The boys’ participation in a working farm enterprise is at the heart of the unique educational experience at St. Martin’s Academy. Students will have daily maintenance chores on the farm that will include milking cows, collecting eggs, feeding and watering all livestock, and moving beef cows and chickens on an intensive rotational grazing system. On a weekly basis, on Wednesday in particular when classes are paused for a full day of work, we will take on larger projects that require the sustained, focused effort of several hours.
One such activity will be processing meat chickens and preparing them for the communal table in Theotokos Hall. While I often prefer older, less mechanized ways of doing things, such is not the case when it comes to plucking chickens. Plucking by hand is only mildly onerous. The issue is that it is rather time-consuming and wildly inefficient for anything beyond putting a bird here and there in the family stew pot. At St. Martin’s we’ll need dozens of chickens, nay hundreds, in store to help feed our growing lads. So, we’ll be introducing some serious mechanical advantage into the equation by employing a system that has been used for years on Joel Salatin’s place, Polyface Farms. With this system, we can process 250+ birds in an afternoon.
How does it work? We take 8-week old chickens (pictured at 2 days old above) and run them through the Featherman Pro. Have a look as I give a quick tour below!