6.27.2013

Life at the Colony

We were so blessed to once again be able to spend a day with our dear friends at the Windy Bay Hutterite Colony, in Manotiba. We sang at their colony last time we were in Manitoba and were so excited to return again this year.
These people have been such a blessing to us-they roll out the red carpet for our family and include us in everything, making us feel so at home and such a part of their colony while we are there.
Above photo...they cleared out their colony laundromat for us and then several ladies basically did all of our laundry. So sweet...there was SO much laundry but they were so insistent to help.
We gave a concert there again and then the young people of the colony sang several songs for us. 
It was amazing..their harmony was so beautiful.
Their gardens are incredible! 
While giving our bus an inspection & fixing a few minor things, the colony mechanics discovered a large hole in our muffler. They kindly took hours out of their day to get everything fixed and get us safely running again. 
We were SO thankful that they discovered the hole there and that we didn't end up with a breakdown on the Alaskian highway!
Carson & Dad loved their well-equipped shop and enjoyed helping with the fixing process.
The day we arrived was sheep-shearing day!
The ladies graciously allowed Allison & I to help with preparing several meals. 
It was so fun to work in their big, commercial kitchen.
They make all the meals for the colony there, so everything is BIG and efficient!
Definitely the highlight for me (and most of us, I think!) was getting to help with chicken butchering the second day we were there. 
About every month and a half, the whole colony joins together and butchers 2,000 chickens, which they mostly sell. 
It was SUCH a cool system-I could've taken pictures all day! We've butchered cows and deer but we children had never done chickens before.
(our parents had though)
The whole process was definitely a great example of how much can be accomplished when people work together and everyone does their job. 
 I know some people aren't used to blood and things of the following sort so you are welcome to stop reading if that is you.
Just consider yourself warned. =)
(note: NO comments about how disgusting this is, or how unkind to "the poor chickens", or anything of that sort, will be posted. I'm quite certain that most of our blog readers eat chicken, and I assure you that every bite of chicken you eat was at this stage sometime before it entered your freezer =))
It started here, where several guys caught the chickens and hung them by their feet to the above racks on the conveyor.
The racks moved around slowly from this side...
....to just a few inches ahead, where they were bopped on the beak by the guy on the left. He used this little wand thing that electrocuted them. They obviously died instantly. Next they moved by the guy to the right, who cut a slit in their neck so that most of the blood could be drained by the time they got to the next "station". 
So now the chickens came on the conveyor, through the doorway into the room where all the rest of us were. 
The guy above pulled the chickens from the conveyor and threw them onto the above table...
...where they then were dumped into the scalding tank, to the left. 
the piles of feathers (that came off after being in the scalding tank)
From the scalding tank, the chickens were hung by their necks & feet from the above conveyor and were moved slowly around to the right.
each person had their various assigned job, either cutting or cleaning out some part of the chicken.   Along the whole line of the hutterite ladies, the extras were dropped into the trough below and emptied into the bucket at the end of the line. Then there was a person whose job was specifically to empty all the waste buckets.
Allison & mom & I cut off extra feathers that had been missed in the scalding part.
The whole process was so fast-the chickens were still hot when they got to our end of the conveyor.
Mitchell had a cool job-he got to run this suction hose thing that cleaned out any "extras" still left inside the chickens. =)
Following that, the chickens were hosed off several times...
...And then Taylor and his friend William did the one of the lasts steps-hooked the chickens legs up beside the necks.
Smiles! They had so much fun-they were chatting away the whole time and Taylor hooked those 4000 chicken legs like a pro. =)
Following Taylor's job...the chickens arrived at the last "station" where their heads were snipped of with a sharp scissors and they were placed in big bins of cold water to chill.
All done and cooling!
The colony had just gotten a new laser cutter and the guy that runs it designed and cut out this beautiful plaque as a gift to our family.
"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men."
Colossians 3:23

-posted by Chelsy

13 comments:

  1. That was totally NEAT! It looks like you had a wonderful time in Manitoba! WOW!!!! :D You guys are such a blessing to SO many people!!! That was an exciting post! And don't worry! I LOVE chicken! So I didn't mind at all!! Thanks for taking the time AGAIN to post! ;) ~Mary

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  2. Fascinating! Love that sense of community and how Christ binds us together and makes friendship come so easy!

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  3. Wow that is so so special to see there pictures. I am the daughter of Peter and Sann Maendel from PA!! And how special it is to see pics of my old homestead and my dear parents and people I know. I would of liked to see another 100 pictures!!!!! I am so thankful they receive you so well and make your time so special. I do think they are the best colony to visit and I have sweet childhood memories!! I miss my family very much and love to take my family there every year. Would love to meet you someday. Thank you for letting God use you wherever you go!! He is so good and worthy.

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  4. This was so cool! I enjoyed seeing that process in pictures- it was so neat and very descriptive- I learned quite a bit. :) basically all our family has done is deer, and a lot of it- because it saves so much money and we love it more than beef in most cases!

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  5. What wonderful timing, and thank you for being willing to post this. We are learning to process our own chickens and, this is how we were trained (except without the electrocution part because if the throat is slit in just the right place, the heart will pump the blood out very well. But I sort of like the idea of the instant death... I'm sort of weak on that part. So glad the guys will handle that part!) Anyway, was wondering if they have one of those automatic chicken pluckers or if they do it by hand? What a wonderful experience for you all to learn these valuable skills. Many are very disconnected from food these days - thinking that chicken comes from... Walmart!
    I don't know if we'll ever process 2,000 chickens - but we're looking forward to learning a few at a time. Thanks again!
    Lv,
    Sheri

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  6. Looks really interesting, but HOW can the let you wear flip flops in a Chicken Processing area, dangerous for you and for the processed chickens!!

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  7. Wow! Super efficient! Wanna come help butcher our chicken in a few weeks?:)

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  8. SO COOL! This is so desciptive also!

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  9. Hi Margie!
    Honestly, we don't really think twice about wearing flipflops (or nothing) on our feet, as we are farm kids and LOVE to run around barefoot! The chickens were in no way contaminated.......and feet are washable.:)
    Thanks for being concerned, though!
    blessings,
    Allison

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  10. Loved this post! Looks like a ton of fun! You were lucky that it was warm when you butchered. It's not fun butchering when it's freezing cold out and the wind is blowing! (I speak from experience. =D) Otherwise butchering is fun! (except when you get the bile sack sprayed at you.)
    Praying God's protection over you as you continue your travels! Hurry back soon!

    ~Kaylee

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  11. Hello to all of the Bontragers,
    That's so kewl that u got to spend time w ur friends, do a concert, help w garding, and help with the chickens!!! I LOVE THE SKIRTS that ur girls wear!!!!! I think when I start having kids(10 or 15 years from now) I might have them dress like u all!
    In Christ,
    Lexi

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  12. I was just wondering - did it hurt the hens to be upside-down like that? I do eat chicken, but I just hope it didn't hurt them too much. ;)

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  13. Ashlyn,

    They were died seconds after being put upside down, so they were fine. =)

    -the Bontragers

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