The following blog post describes some aspects of the butchering of both rabbits and chickens. Sensitive readers beware.
Usually when we tell people that we process both the chickens and the rabbits on our farm, we get one of two reactions. Either we hear "Ew, omg I can't believe that" horror-- or we get "whoa". I'm not going to pretend that when I first started butchering, I didn't kind of feel both of those things simultaneously. But it's part of life now, an act as crucial to the week as watering, planting, weeding.
But it never gets 'easy'. The skill, the rhythm, the actual steps required are habitual now. I know what needs to be done. I still know though, that I am setting up for a day of turning a living creature into food. I don't feel guilty exactly, because this is the reason I'm raising these animals. I know they've had a really high quality of life. It's more like a really solemn moment, each time, a recognition that the harvest involves blood, a moment of pain, and death- at my hand. I don't feel that's it wrong, I just feel the weight of the responsibility.
I often process alone, which can lend me to feel pressure to rush, keep it moving. Butchering is time-sensitive. It has to be done cleanly, and the meat must be cooled almost immediately. There is a lot of clean up involving gore, feathers, parts and fur. Usually, I have orders that must be filled- so there is a lot of pressure to get it all done. So I guess I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that the act of raising and butchering your own meat does change you. You can't ever think of meat the same way. I can't disconnect myself from where it comes from. Even if I never processed another chicken or rabbit again, I can't un-know how it turns into meal.
I'm glad for this, it helps us not waste any bit of meat that we grow or buy.
It's one of the most transformational aspects of farming.