Callister Farm, located in West Concord, Minnesota, held its second processing class today, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to attend (and equally grateful to have shared the experience with my friend Kate). If my memory serves, there were nine of us plus the Callisters, and each of us slaughtered, dressed, butchered, and packaged a chicken.
I was expecting more blood and guts and gore than what I got, but I'm not complaining. I stood and watched the chickens die, as I felt they were owed that, and although at times it was difficult to see people who were not skilled in slaughter doing the deed - myself included in that group - it was less difficult to watch the life go out of the chickens than I expected. As Kate pointed out before I stepped up to kill my bird, "These are happy chickens. They lived a good life." That was a speech I needed to hear at the time. It was a lot more difficult to dispatch a chicken than I expected; the feathers and skin provide more resistance than I thought they would.
Strangely enough, I thought the plucker was the worst part, with the thumping and speed and random glimpses of feet. But, boy, does it do a good job.
The farm is lovely and Lori Callister did a fantastic job teaching and encouraging us. Her stories and the family's dedication has solidified my desire to avoid mass-produced meat. Treating the birds with respect and care takes a lot of work, and that is something I need to support.
I've heard it said that anyone who eats meat should take part in the slaughtering process at least once to get an appreciation of where their food comes from. I heartily echo this sentiment, and hope the Callisters continue to offer this opportunity to interested individuals. My eyes were opened even further (and I have a chicken for my oven) for 40 bucks.
And if you need further proof that the Callisters treat their animals well, I offer this tidbit: I crouched down and opened my arms to one of the many layers scratching about the yard, saying, "C'mere, chicken," and it came to me and let me pick it up. I challenge you to find THAT at a Gold'n Plump farm.