There is no stopping the line now. No wasted motion. No idle
chit-chat. What little conversation there is centers mostly
around the unseasonably cold, breezy weather and the proper
techniques for dressing the birds, quickly and cleanly. Everyone
is wearing rubber aprons and rain pants to help stay dry.
Lucille and Teresa are also wearing hooded sweatshirts --
with the hoods up.
All the action takes place under a processing pavilion that,
like most things on Polyface Farm, is simplicity, itself.
The pavilion is a simple concrete slab poured around locust
posts. The posts and other lumber were cut from trees growing
on the farm. The farm consists of about 230 hectares, only
42 of which are open ground. The rest is in wooded hills.
The pavilion has a corrugated metal roof and open sides. It
is strategically located on the north side of a large shade
tree, not far from the Salatins' home. The pavilion has electricity.
Ice-cold wash water comes from a nearby well. It is carried
to each work station by overhead hoses attached to pavilion
'I need another crate!' yells Daniel, taking a turn at keeping
the killing cones and scalder filled. O'Connor lugs eight
more birds in from the stack of crates. They're racing to
keep the line going, trying to meet their own deadline --
and beat the arrival of the delivery driver. It's 9:30 a.m.
The stack of crates of about half empty.
Once birds have bled out, they're hung upside down in the
scalder/dunker. A thermostat and electric heaters hold the
water at a constant temperature of 63 C. Four at a time, the
birds are gently dunked in and out of the water for exactly
1 minute and 20 seconds. Any longer -- or hotter -- and the
skin tears or comes off with the feathers. Any shorter --
or cooler -- and the feathers don't come off in the plucker.
The scalder/dunker is homemade. The foundation is a wooden
box built within a box. Salatin added a submersible thermostat
and a pair of 4500 watt electric heaters. Then a local metal
fabricator covered the whole thing with heavy, galvanized
sheet metal and soldered the joints to make it water tight.
'I need another crate!' yells Daniel. It's 10 a.m. The pile
of crates is going down steadily, but slowly.