1. Stations everyone! Whether I process alone, or have helping hands with me, stations are the best way to get the deeds done quickly and cleanly. 'Killing Cone' is station one: knives, cones, and lined buckets are ready, waiting, and stay at this station until clean up. 'Break Down' is station two: cutting boards, knives, bowls of salted ice water, large lined trash cans are on hand for the main processing station. 'Cool Down' is station three: positioned near the sink are sealing bags, markers, and towels to rinse, dry, bag and label. There are also several large ice chests filled with ice for quickly cooling processed birds once they are washed. The final stop is the freezer..but only once the birds are cooled down.
2. Loose the skin. One of the nastiest parts of butchering poultry is plucking; dipped in boiling water and stripped of every feather these birds leave a fragrant memory you never forget! I skip this all together skinning my birds before processing.
4. Party! Have a processing party. Grill some meat, bake some treats and invite green horns to come learn the fine art of processing. The more the merrier. Family, friends, local college kids can often be bribed with food..or the promise we often make..you clean it you keep it.
If you have never had the privilege of processing your own poultry or if you are considering it, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and give it a go. Start small, maybe a few birds, and work to a goal that meets your family's needs. Sitting at the table tonight, we shared in good food and the satisfaction of hard work and the provision it brings, the security of a well stocked freezer, and the joy of fellowship shared over the task.