Home Again & About Cheerfully Slitting Chicken's Throats

Gee but its great to be back home
Home is where I want to be, yeah.
I’ve been on the road so long my friend....

The lyrics from that old Simon & Garfunkle song were going through my mind today as I was heading back home from Albany (see yesterday’s blog for details).

I used to have that song on a cassette tape. But back in the mid 1980s Marlene and I contributed all our rock music tapes to a Halloween-night church bonfire. It was a small mountain of worldly music that went up in smoke that night.

Compost Temperature Update
I got home early this afternoon, gave Marlene a hug and a kiss and, shortly thereafter, went out to check the temperature of my compost pile. I made it four days ago, before I went away. The temperature of the pile was 65 degrees when I put it together. This afternoon it ranged from 100 to 110 degrees, depending on where I stuck the 20"-probe of my handy-dandy compost thermometer.

According to the thermometer package, 100 to 130 degrees is the “active zone.” It’s a good temperature for rapid composting action. If it climbs up to 130 to 160 degrees, it’ll be in the “hot zone.” When/if it gets to the “hot zone” I’ll be the “envy of backyard composters everywhere!” That’s what the package says.

I don’t care much about being the envy of backyard composters. But if this all works, I’ll give some more details and maybe my experience can be an inspiration to others who want to successfully compost (no, I will not be writing a book about how to compost).

Adopting James
When I got home today Marlene informed me that James and a couple friends were helping a nearby farmer repair his hay wagons. Then she told me he was out until 10:00 last night helping another farmer replace the bearings on a piece of farm equipment. The farmer told Marlene he wants to adopt James because he is such a good helper.

Butchering Chickens Gets a Lot of Attention
In my previous blog I told you about how my blog, How to Butcher a Chicken got a favorable mention in a Slate magazine article about urban farming. Well, today I checked my site meter for that blog and was astounded. As of 8:00 this evening, 2,516 people had visited the blog and there had been 11,072 page views. Prior to yesterday I was averaging around 110 page views a day. That is absolutly remarkable. I’ve never had so many visitors at any blog I’ve written. Now, if every one of those people decided to buy a copy of my plucker plan book....

My Most Popular Blog Essay
The most visited Deliberate Agrarian essay I’ve ever written, by far, is this one: Backyard Poultry processing With My 11-Year-Old Son. Today I got this comment in response to the essay:

I’m all for “urban” farming, and being more in touch with our food production, but there’s something very disturbing about an 11-year-old cheerfully singing bible songs while slitting the throats of small animals. Why should you be proud that your son enjoys this step? This seems so wrong. Shouldn’t there be some degree of reverence and respect paid to these animals who are giving their lives for you to enjoy a meal?

My response to that was as follows:
Reverence? If you mean by reverence some sort of spiritual regard or worshipful attitude towards chickens, my answer would be absolutely not! My family does not worship the creation. We do not thank the bird for giving us its life. We worship the Creator. We thank God for the chickens He has given to us. Taking a chicken's life is not a sacred thing to us. It is just a matter of harvesting a crop.

As for "respect" for the chicken, yes, we very much respect the birds. Part of of our God-given responsibility as caretakers of these creatures is to treat them with respect and give them a good life.

As a matter of fact, that's why we raise our own poultry--because we want to eat meat from birds that we know have been raised in a healthy environment with good food and a respectful degree of compassion. Our chickens get fresh air, sunshine, bugs and fresh grass to graze, a balanced feed ration, clean water, and a lot of "personal" attention each day. They have a good life.

And when their life comes to an end, we treat them respectfully by killing them without a lot of trauma. How many chickens die with someone talking to them and singing Bible songs? That's a bad thing? I think not.

As for cheerfully slitting the bird's throats, the point is not that my son enjoys the task. What he enjoys is being a useful part of a distasteful (none of us LIKES butchering chickens) but necessary job here on our homestead.

And, yes, I am extremely pleased that my son is such a willing and responsible helper in this work.

Are you suggesting that we should assume a somber attitude while processing poultry in the backyard? Well, what 11-year-old boy would want to be a part of that? We can have fun at this. There is no wrong in that.

I suspect that you have not butchered many chickens in your life. If you did, you would be better able to relate to what I'm saying. After you've "processed" your first hundred, it's no big deal.

That response to my essay is the tip of a sizeable discussion about killing chickens at the Slate Magazine Article. I did not read all the discussion but I read some entertaining commentary there about how “evil” chickens are, and that killing them is as justifiable as killing Nazi war criminals.

New Plucker Movies on YouTube
With that fast wireless internet in my Albany hotel room I was able to check out YouTube for any new Whizbang Plucker movies. There are a couple and they’re pretty good. Here are links:

Whizbang Plucker Movie #1
Whizbang Plucker Movie #2

Ian Paisley Sermons
I stayed in a hotel room for three nights and didn’t once turn the television on. My laptop computer with fast internet allowed for plenty of constructive perusing. I stopped by Sermonaudio.com and downloaded a bunch of sermons for later listening. Two of the sermons were by Dr. Ian Paisley. The name was familiar but I had no idea who Ian Paisley was when I downloaded his sermons. If I lived in Ireland, I would have known who this man was.

Today on the drive home from Albany, my coworkers in the front seat listened to rock music on the radio while I listened to Ian Paisley preach these two sermons:

The French Reformer John Calvin
The Scottish Reformer John Knox

I must say that Mr. Paisley has a way of delivering a sermon that holds my attention and is glorifying to the Lord. In the sermons about Calvin and Knox, Paisley portrays both men as evangelists. Paisley himself is, among other things, an evangelist.

Ian Paisley’s Wikipedia biography (click on his name above) is most interesting. He is a controversial person. Has anyone else out there listened to this man’s sermons?

No Bread This Year
A lot of people at the Skaneateles Farm Market are going to be missing Marlene’s home-baked bread this summer. She has decided, after eight years of baking for the market, to take a year off. We have a lot going on around here with our older parents and busy kids. And she plans to focus more on canning and freezing food from the garden. Marlene will miss the market (and the extra money), but can get back into it any time. I, for one, am glad to see she is taking a break.

Upcoming Blogs
I still intend to blog a how-to about a very nifty way to cook whole grains. And I’m thinking about maybe writing a blog essay about how to solve all the problems of Industrial Agriculture. ;-)


Patricia said...

Hi, it's me again the poodle woman. I went to Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC. Ian Paisley was a frequent preacher in the chapel and Bible Conference services. He is known to be very contraversial. His church is Martyers Memorial Free Presbyterian Church. Here is a link.
http://www.ianpaisley.org/ When Pope John Paul came to the US, Ian Paisley was here protesting.

Thought you would like to know.

Andy & Kelli said...

"about how to solve all the problems of Industrial Agriculture. ;-)"

Har har Herrick... :) (but I'm waiting now)

You know - if everyone had a sense of humor - rather knew how to use the one they start life with... the world would be a lot better place.
Always a pleasure :)

Bluebird Meadow Farms

Manette said...


I wonder if the lady who was so worried about the chickens realized what kind of life those poor chickens in the grocery store lead? I realize I'm preaching to the choir here, but her response pretty much ticked me off. I've cleaned quite a few chickens in my life time. Your answer was right on.

Ray said...

Thought I would note that I agree 100% on your thoughts toward the chicken slaughter. You respect the animal and are its caretaker and responsible for it. However, you don't hold it up as an object itself to be reverenced during slaughter.

I also found your comment about the compost pile so nice. I just helped a friend of mine start one with some grass clippings and a bunch of wedding done out of a much neglected flower bed (it came with her new house). It was amazing to her when the following, very cool morning, just how warm it was inside the pile.

Not judging mind you - but just a thought. If you are still singing the song in your head is that the same as listening the tape? I am just asking - and wouldn't be one to be burning "worldly" musical tapes myself. Just wondering your thoughts on that.

Jeff Culbreath said...

Good post, Mr. Kimball. You contine to be the Christian agrarian par excellance.

However - I definitely don't approve of Ian Paisley. But then I'm a rather uncompromising Roman Catholic, and he doesn't approve of me either.

Undoubtedly his sermons are better than rock music, although both come from precisely the same place. :-)

Herrick Kimball said...

Now I'm getting confused. Isn't Bob Jones a Fundamentalist Baptist school? Paisley is a Presbytertian. Would it be right for me to conclude that Paisley believes and teaches that God saves His elect through predestination (the sermons seemed to assert this), but Bob Jones Univ does not? The Baptists that I know take a dim view of Calvin's teachings on this subject.

No, I don't think that lady was totally aware.

Hi Ray-
Nice of you to post here. My compost pile seems to be peaking at 122 degrees. The thermometer is an unnecessary but fun tool. No, I don't think that singing a verse from a song is the same as listening to the tape.

Hey Jeff-
Having read a bit more about Ian Paisley, I can see why you wouldn't "approve" of him. I suppose it only makes sense that he would rail against the Catholic church since he is a Reformed Presbyterian and the whole Reformation was about breaking away from the Catholic system.

Personally, I do not agree with most of what the Catholic church teaches. In my younger days I had lengthy and heated "conversations" with Catholic friends about what their church believes and what the Bible says about those beliefs. They are still Catholic. I'm still Protestant. And we're still friends. I'm not going to go out of my way to demonstrate against the Pope but I have no problem with someone else doing so, just as I have no problem with someone peacebly protesting against a particular Protestant ministry. It might be that they deserve to be protested against. In any event, I'm not going to use this blog to drive a wege between Catholics and Protestants.

Fact is, I can think of one branch of Catholic thought that I am attracted to and that is the decidedly agrarian concept of Distributivism. I believe Distributivism arose from GK Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc's interpretation of Pope Leo XIII's "Rerum Novarum" encyclical.

Though I have not studied Distributivism at length, I think I agree with it... as long as it is Protestantized. :-)

Patricia said...

Everyone assumes that BJU is Baptist. But, the original Dr Bob Jones, Sr was a Methodist. It is truely a protestant (in traditional sense-aka non catholic) non-denominational school. We had many baptists true, but also many methodist, presbyterian, and mennonites there. I disagree with Ian Paisley's methods but I agree with many of his beliefs. If I lived where he does, I might be more dogmatic. And I am indep. baptist.

Michael Bunker said...


The original Baptist Church was predestinarian, which is simple enough to determine merely by reading the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689. The first Baptist Confession in America (The Charleston Confession) was also predestinarian, as was the Southern Baptist Convention at its inception. So traditional Baptist doctrine is based on election and the Doctrines of Grace. Arminian Baptists are baptists in that they don't baptize infants, but other than that they are a whole new and different animal, with no real historical connection to the Baptist faith.

Ian Paisley's position on the Pope is merely that which is stated plainly in the London Baptist Confession and the Westminster Confession of Faith - the two most accepted Protestant Confessions. It is also the position of Luther, Calvin, the Reformers, and the Puritans. I have my own differences with Paisley (his embrace of Bush and the Bush mafia), but I certainly applaud his willingness to stand by historic protestantism.


eleventh hour said...

Hi Herrick--
I think I can account for at least 1000 of the hits on that chicken butchering article! I slaughtered one chicken (racoon victim that survived), then read it. Then we processed 15, and I read it again. Then read it once more before we processed 33 today. I gain more on each trip! I've also referred folks to it--thank you for writing it! It has helped tremendously.

I love hearing about your farm boys. My farm girls may one day need capable, hard working men to join them in their life pursuit of murdering chickens! We reverently sang many fine songs today about "If you're a dead chicken and you know it, drop your feathers!" and "If you're a live chicken and you know it, run and hide!" This is disgusting and somewhat sad work, but it is also a real part of life and a chance to do meaningful work together. A large intestine (and other organs) are no longer just a colorless idea to my kids--they have a full orbed idea of just what it is and what it does! The clueless lady that thinks one shouldn't sing while killing a bird has no idea everything this means. We appreciate more the fragileness of life, the miracle of our bodies, the freshness of the morning and long more for the rule of Christ than ever. Tell your son to sing on!

I am thankful, to God for this rich life and to you for your help in learning about it and enjoying it.

PS--we love our chicken picker book, and maybe someday the various parts we have prepared will come together and Pluck Chickens!

Herrick Kimball said...

Thanks for the insight into Bob Jones U.

And thank you for the history lesson! I am going to read that Baptist Confession of Faith.

Eleventh Hour-
I'm glad to know you are putting the chicken butchering information to good use, and sure do appreciate the positive feedback. I laughed when I read about your family's poultry processing songs.

Michael Phillips said...


I haven't posted before, but I read your blog a lot and appreciate it. I haven't butchered many chickens, but that's mainly because I have six kids. Turkeys and goats go a lot farther :)

I noted that your wife previously baked for the farmer's market and wondered if you had built a commercial kitchen in some inexpensive and innovative manner consistent with the whizbang ideas, or if you were just able to get your own kitchen approved, or if New York has better and more reasonable ideas about such things.

Anonymous said...

Let me give you a different perspectiuve on Mr. Paisley... Has no one here followed his hate-filled rhetoric in Northern Ireland? He supports terrorism. Hs supported it, in the name of "Reformed Christianity". This is a great blog. As a Traditional Catholic (the comments on Distributism are excellent - read Fr. Vincent McNabb's books on the Back to the Land movement in the UK, 1920's - he was a friend of Chesterton, and Belloc) and as an Irishmen who never hated a Protestant... Please tell me where the Bible says to hate? Paisley HATES Irish Catholics... and has caused great harm in Northern Ireland, as have some Catholics...

Anonymous said...

Ian Paisley is da man!! Chect out his website ianpaisley.org