edible endeavors

THE FINAL CUT

Local farmer teaches humane poultry butchering.

WRITTEN BY BARBARA TWITCHELL
PHOTOS BY CANDICE NYANDO

"Our goal is that our animals have only one bad day their entire life. Can you say that about your own life?" – Unknown Farmer

These words at the beginning of the syllabus for Nancy Dineen's poultry-butchering class serve as the standard that guides how her animals are raised, as well as how their lives are ended: as respectfully and humanely as possible.

Final-Cut-1

Dineen, owner of Nancy's Green Barn Farm in Dayton, Nev., offers what she believes to be the only poultry-butchering class in Northern Nevada. She started it two years ago to fill an unmet need after numerous people had asked her to guide them through the process. Now people travel from as far away as Lake Tahoe, Fallon, and Sparks to participate.

The class is offered monthly and runs two hours in length and is held at her Dayton farm. She limits the size to about six students to ensure a good learning experience for all.

The students have a wide variety of experience levels, Dineen says, from absolute novices to veteran poultry farmers looking to improve their butchering skills. Many come specifically to learn the efficient and humane techniques she has perfected over the past seven years.

Animal to Meat

Dineen knows that most people are squeamish about the butchering process.

"A lot of people really like eating great food," she says. "They just don't want to know how it got there."

She is philosophical about it.

"Growing your own food and knowing how it was raised are really important to me," Dineen says. "I love my animals and believe they are kind of fulfilling their destiny. I just want to do it right and make sure they don't suffer. The people who come for the class feel the same way."

Step by Step

Dineen demonstrates the entire process step by step, from live to oven-ready bird, while her students take notes and ask questions. For safety and legal reasons, no student is permitted to actually engage in hands-on activities; they can only observe. Even so, by the time she's done, they have the knowledge to do it on their own.

At $15 per person, the class is a real bargain.

"It's a service," Dineen says. "I don't do it for the money. I do it for chicken feed. And I tell my students, 'Each one of you is a bag of feed!' They think that's funny."

Oh, and at the end of the class she gives one student the bird. Literally.

For details on Dineen's class, call 775-246-8456 or visit www.Nancysgreenbarnfarm.com.

Reno freelance writer Barbara Twitchell still ranks herself among the squeamish when it comes to butchering, but was totally impressed by the Dineens' wonderful farm and her loving commitment to her animals.

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