WARNING: Photos of the slaughter included in this post.
I did not grow up on a farm, and I've never been hunting. At age 12 when my pet guinea pig died I cried in dramatic heaves for hours as if I'd lost a parent. So slaughtering birds was not in my comfort zone. But I eat meat, and felt very compelled to be a part of the process. Now, having taken part in the process, I vowed to only eat our own chickens or meat from the local farmers market. It made more of an impact on me than watching Our Daily Bread or any other unsettling documentary about the industrialized food system.
We slaughtered our first meat bird over a year ago, after much YouTube video watching and internet research. I leaned heavily on Ryan, who has hunted since he was young and has more of a stomach for the difficult parts. The two tough ones for me are A) the killing, B) the cleaning out guts. In reality I don't know if I'll ever be able to do either, but I will pluck feathers all day long.
Since that first chicken, we've done it several times more. Each time getting better and faster -- this January we processed a batch of five. I still have one in the freezer. It's a proud feeling, though Vicky-the-chicken-lady at Callahan's General Store would say -- "wait til you do fifty in a day". I must say it's much harder work than I knew, but it's one of the most gratifying experiences I've ever had. I now wake up giddy when it's butcher day, a feeling I never could have predicted for myself. And the stock is from a different planet than store bought chicken stock.
Also noteworthy is that we do this in our side yard right in East Austin, and while we try to be conspicuous it's pretty out in the open. One time an unsuspecting neighbor walked up to ask if we could help him move a TV in the middle of the bloodiest part. Well Howdy, neighbor. So don't let a lack-of-special equipment or being in an urban setting stop you, because we have both of those things. Here's a glimpse at the process.
The feet get cleaned and peeled, and set aside for stock along with the gizzards.