Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A good investment.

We have been producing our own broiler birds since we returned here from Spain, this is mainly because it's hard to find a genuine free range Organic bird. We bought the odd bird from the Famers Market, however the people who were doing organic meat stopped supplying our local market due to ill health. We had done table birds before so decided as we had the land we would do them again. Processing the birds is always a labour so we were very pleased when we found a small processer an hour and a half drive from us. He always did a great job, at a reasonable price. Then came the bad news, he was no longer processing other peoples birds as he had enough work on his own farm and the family were missing out on quality time with dad. We didn't relish the idea of all that plucking, although Simon can pluck a bird in half an hour, it's hard on his hands due to arthritis. So I did a bit of research (Google is your friend). and came to the conclusion that a small Italian plucking machine might be the answer. There were various companies who stock this machine, at wildly varying prices., I was amazed to find that the cheapest price was in fact a smallholders supplier in Ireland, normally prices are far higher here than UK prices. I gave the company a ring and had a chat, I was assured that this machine would do what we wanted it to do with the number of birds that we produce yearly.
After dipping in 55c hot water the bird s feathers will come out easily.
This week it was put to the test, it does exactly what it's supposed to do, pluck a fully feathered bird in under a minute.

Less than one minute on all that remains are a couple of wing feathers.
Needless to say we are very pleased that it has lived up to our expectations. We have yet to test it out on ducks, which should be done this coming weekend as they will be fourteen weeks old. With ducks you have to catch them at the right time due to moults and pin feathers, either ten weeks or fourteen weeks should make for better plucking.
There is a wide range of weights with these latest birds which are supposed to be Hubbards, a slow growing strain.
Two whole birds and two as half birds.
They have ranged in weight from six and a half pounds to nine pounds three ounces.
We really  do have our doubts as to whether they were in fact Hubbards, none of our previous batches have weighed so much yet they were reared and fed exactly the same as previous batches. One of our customers wanted her birds done as half birds, probally just as well  even as half a bird it weighed over four pounds. We have put one of the larger birds aside for our Christmas bird, we will also have rib of beef , it will be a nice change from Turkey. Once again we ended up with only five birds for ourselves and then only because I have learnt to say no. Next year we are planning on doing three batches, that way we might get a decent amount for ourselves.
The dough needs to be much thinner.
We are still looking for a good cream cracker recipe,
They look the part but are not quite as we want them.
we have tried one that we found on the internet, it's OK but not what we would like, so we will continue testing recipes until we do find a good one. 


  1. This weekend, we'll do the same here in Illinois. 25 broilers to process ourselves. We have a plucker that looks very similar to yours and works well. The dogs love this time as they get all the heads, feet and innards. We're worn at at the end of the day but as we just cannot tolerate any store bought chicken we know the day is just one more invested in our ongoing health. Enjoy your chicken!

  2. We are very pleased with our machine Donna, how long have you had yours? Not even our cats will eat a shop bought chicken, free range or otherwise, maybe cats are a better judge of food than a lot of people are.

  3. I'm glad your machine lived up to expectations. All too often technology is over-rated and disappointing!

  4. We are very pleased with it Mark, it certainly made life a lot easier.

  5. I never knew there was such a thing, it should make all that plucking far easier for you.

  6. It has Jo. Simon is very good at hand plucking but it now plays hell with his hands.

  7. Yay! The amchine worked! Well done you guys. I was interested in your comments about the huge weight range on this latest batch - we have also found this. There are some 'tiny' hens whom we thought must be sick in some way and not thriving but they seem to be chugging along OK, and some of our cock birds are huge by comparison. I will weigh this lot and let you know. Like you, we have fed and ranged them this year the same as previous years.

  8. So glad the machine worked and was a worthwhile investment! I bet Simon's hands are too! xx

  9. Yes, we are pleased with it, so are Simons hands.

  10. Hi Anne. Great luncheon! Here is the very brief summary of camera exposure information that I mentioned. Enjoy! Bill

    Exposure Basics

    A perfect exposure is like a bucket filled precisely to the brim.

    A less than full "bucket" results in underexposure, picture too dark;
    An over-full bucket means the picture will be washed out, overexposed.

    There are 2 possible approaches to filling the bucket:
    You can open the faucet all the way and run the water for a very short time; OR
    You can open the faucet only a little and let the water trickle for a much longer time.

    The "faucet" corresponds to the lens opening, the aperture; the length of time the faucet is open corresponds to the camera's shutter speed.

    Either approach can result in a perfectly filled bucket.

    The two approaches are complementary: Reduction in one can be precisely compensated by increase in the other, leaving the level in the bucket unchanged.

    The unit of increase or reduction in light is called a "stop" or "exposure value" (EV). An increase of one stop in the aperture setting will be exactly balanced by a decrease of one stop in the shutter speed, and vice versa.

    Increase of light volume by one stop--by whichever means--is defined as a doubling of the light reaching the sensor; decrease of light by one stop is an halving of the light.

    Shutter speed controls motion.

    Whether the motion is that of a moving subject or a photographer's shaking hands, its effects will be exaggerated by a long exposure and minimized by a short exposure. Even very rapid motion can be frozen by the use of a very fast shutter speed. Even slow or slight motion will result in blur when a slow shutter speed is employed.

    A useful guideline for avoiding camera shake is to use a shutter speed no slower than the reciprocal of the focal length of the lens. That is, if the focal length of a lens is 50 (mm), its reciprocal will be 1/50, so the slowest shutter speed to use is 1/50th of a second.

    Aperture controls depth of field, the zone of sharpness which begins at a given distance from the lens and extends to some other distance, which could be infinity.

    It is a fact of optics that depth of field varies with the aperture diameter: a smaller diameter (higher f-number) will result in greater depth of field; a larger diameter (lower f-number) results in less depth of field.