Busy Spring at Soul Fire – Chickens, Interns, and Compost!

The season has picked up and we are almost too busy to blog. The crops on the farm have exploded into luscious green – garlic, cilantro, radishes, peas, and Brussels sprouts reach to the sky along with their myriad siblings of other varieties. We are in the middle of our first week this season without an apprentice living in our house and we miss it! Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to those who have shared time with us so far… Imani, Eshe, Colin, Melissa, Mark, and Abe. Here is a brief spotlight on our mother-daughter pair who spent a week and will return later in the season.

Imani and Eshe (May 14 – May 19)

We live in Annapolis MD, and I study English Language and Creative Writing at Sweet Briar College in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. We came to Soul Fire Farm with no expectation besides work, physically hard labor. We wanted to learn how to create a sustainable environment in which to grow great quality food. Soul Fire Farm, met our expectation and went beyond that in so many ways. Through Jonah and Leah, my mother and I learned more about farm management, natural building and on a broader scale we learned about enjoying life. Jonah and Leah live with a smile on their sun-graced faces continuously. If we never reach a scale equal to Soul Fire Farm in our humble gardens, we will take away a greater understanding of what the land can provide our bodies, minds, and souls through working with nature to achieve its greatest peak as well as our own heights.

We had an ideal chicken slaughter day just now. Smashing our previous year’s record we processed 50 birds in four hours thanks to our helper friends and the rental of a plucker. We started off the morning with a Hebrew blessing thanking Creator for giving breath to all creatures and sustaining all life, and for the Torah’s guidance in how to properly slaughter animals. Our kids added their own prayer in the form of an impromptu chant, “Thanks for your life! Thanks for your poop! Thanks for the people that you feed!”

We carted the birds over to our work area and hung them on ropes by their feet in batches of 4. A quick and firm cut to the artery and they bled out.  After hosing them off, we dunked them in a hot water bath (140 degrees for 60 seconds).  Then they went to the plucker which had them defeathered in about 30 seconds (by hand it’s at least 7 minutes per bird). At the evisceration table we removed the head, legs, oil gland and internal organs. We saved livers and hearts. Next came quality control and washing. Then, they were soaked in an ice water bath for cooling until our daughter was ready to pack, weigh, and label them. Enjoy the pictures of the process!

We shared a delicious lunch with our volunteers of fried chicken, fresh arugala salad, potatoes, and squash soup. It has been delightful eating straight from the land, minutes fresh once again. The strawberries have even started coming in!