Thursday, 30 April 2009


Well that was a lovely morning. Which I'm surprised about because I thought killing chickens was going to be unpleasant. We have spent the morning on the sort of farm that has lots of baby animals and that was looking as lovely as it possibly could, everything lush and green, flowers and blossom everywhere, welcoming dogs. And in a very lovely setting.

OK so it seemed like a good idea at the time. Joined in a discussion on a french forum about how people got their chickens killed and ended up with an invitation to come and see and learn.

Today was the day. Up at 6.00 and off to near Perigueux to a farm run by a Welsh woman who has been here 30 years who was killing and preparing 10 chickens for market with her french neighbour. Mixed farm with chickens/rabbits/ducks/quail/pigs/sheep/cows. She prepares meat for sale on a market and also delivers to local customers.

First catch your chickens from the shed where they have spent the night and put in a crate, hold at top of wings. Don't let them eat the night before. Wheel the crate down to the barn and meet up with the neighbour and her sister. One person takes one chicken, holds firmly by feet and upper wings with head down. Other person puts hand over head which seems to calm it and inserts knife through wattle and cut up towards chin. Catch blood in plate already containing garlic and pepper. Wait til stops dripping and it's done. Put in large cardboard box and on to the next one.

(This blood makes sanguette. Leave the plate to coagulate and when solid, slide off plate into a pot of boiling water for about 20 minutes. Cool and fry like black pudding.)

And it really is that simple. The chicken doesn't seem to notice that you are slitting its throat, it struggles a bit but very little, you've got your hand over its eyes so you can't see it dying and the others in the crate don't seem to notice.

To get the feathers off you dunk the bird up and down in a large pot of water that is just off the boil, for a couple of minutes - don't cook it. And when you put it on the table the feathers come out really easily.

Cut where neck meets chest and remove a bag of stuff - think it's the crop. Cut below chin and pull out the tube (airway?) and if it's for the french market cut off the bottom beak and clean up. At the bum end you have to cut out the anus in one piece and gently pull out the guts. DON'T cut the gall bladder or everything will be green, bitter and spoilt. Apart from that just pull everything out. Cut off and discard feet, cut off the gland that oils the feathers. Cut gizzard in half and empty out, remove layer of skin next to the contents, wash. For market put heart, liver, gizzard back in the cavity. Then use a blow lamp all over to singe any feathers and rub with cloth to make sure all spotless and tie up.

It was a good experience. I can do it, it seemed simple, I enjoyed being part of a gossipy, good humoured group of women preparing something.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009


Well we got the plastic for the window, just in time because it has just been tipping it down and window is perfectly watertight - Him outdoors strikes again. Nobody came to serve us, so we cut it ourselves which is very brave because you then have to explain to the checkout lady why you haven't got the chitty!

Got the table from Champion too. Had to have the last one so had to ask if we could (note use carton not boite for the cardboard box). Also apropos of nothing in particular, use c'est bien not c'est bon, aparently bon is for tasting good not for everything.

And the cacti thingies which are sitting on the new table waiting for it to stop raining!

Also went to pharmacie to get the tick remover for Arthur. 7.30€ for two tiny pieces of plastique !

One year on am confident to explain what I want or why I want it and understand what they say back - mostly. Still can't understand enough of the chat between people. Get the gist but lose the detail. But get great satisfaction out of these tiny achievements.

Thierry and Wayne are off now so I'm going to go and look at what they've been doing.

Another wet day in the Dordogne

Evelyn tells us that we will have 3 days of rain before the good weather comes back. This is mid way through day one. Evelyn is a very glamourous french woman who presents the weather on TF1 as if going to a cocktail party. A new outfit every day and although sometimes more than a bit odd, always beautifully put together.

Arthur has decided that he doesn't need to go out in the rain and has plonked himself on my lap to help with the typing. Hamish is, very surprisingly, out exploring. Unusual for him, he doesn't usually like the wet.

Sound of tyres on gravel either means that Thierry the mason is back from his lunch - not likely as it's only 1.30 - or the postman's come. Will restrain myself from leaping up to see what it could be. Put in an order for DVDs at this week so am expecting something. Also belong to and there's usually a book in the pipeline somewhere.

(One of the DVDs that arrived was I am Legend which made me realise that I really don't enjoy scarey movies. Need something to do while watching to replace peeking out from behind the sofa. And it really isn't a very scarey movie at all! Enjoyed it 'in spite of'.)

This afternoon have to go and get a gadget for taking ticks out of Arthur from the pharmacie. Didn't have any yesterday but the nice lady said that there would be some today. Him outdoors is going out to get some plastic for the new temporary window that he is making to stop the rain spoiling the new floor, so I expect we shall combine the two. But have to wait for at least 2 and probably 2.30 to make sure that the shops are open.

I also have it in mind to buy a small marble topped table to go with granny's wrought iron chairs that I have painted and some little cactii whose name escapes me for the pair of urns that are too small to keep damp in the summer or unfrozen in the winter.

The front door has finally refused to open after sticking for weeks so Him outdoors is struggling again with the bloody thing. Maybe we shall have to add a new door handle to the things we need from Weldom :)

Wayne the tiler is here today making a lovely job of the hall floor. Tiles we bought to go with the kitchen ones are too small, too thin and a pain in the arse to lay diagonally rather than straight. I hadn't realised how many more cuts you need to lay the edge tiles of diamonds - sorry Wayne.