Left Handed Monkey Wrenches

Years ago, a friend and I sent a third friend to get a left handed monkey wrench.  Every time he returned to tell us that somebody told him there’s no such thing and that it’s just a regular pipe wrench, we accused him of not trusting us, of calling us liars, and thinking we didn’t know what we were doing, and sent him back on his quest.  After a half hour or so, he figured out what was going on.  He’s never spoken to us since…

I first learned about Murphy from my guitar teacher who had a poster of his laws on the wall in her office.  As a young kid things like If anything can go wrong it will go wrong at the worst possible moment seemed funny.  His laws were a good distraction while being lectured about not practicing enough or not paying attention to my lessons.  Years later, as a pseudo-adult, those laws carry a little more weight.

Today, 10 years later, Murphy threw a left handed monkey wrench into butchering day. Continue reading Left Handed Monkey Wrenches


Chicken Plucker: Part One

When I bought 50 meat chickens, I started to think very seriously about how to butcher them.  In the past, we’ve butchered 10 or 15 at a time, skinning the birds instead of plucking.  If they’re young, they skin easily.  If they’re more than about 6 months old, they’re “tough old birds.”

The problem is, I like chicken skins.  And I don’t like skinning chickens.  But I really don’t like plucking them by hand.  I finally realized that I would have to build a plucker.

The little PVC table top pluckers that attach to drills seemed only marginally better than plucking by hand.  Whizbangs looked simple and practical but too expensive.  Then I noticed the similarity between a Whizbang plucker and a washing machine.  Turns out I wasn’t the only one who noticed.  A man posted this video of his “Chicken Washer” on YouTube.  And better yet, he offered free plans to all who asked!

That seemed great, until I finally got the plans from him this morning.  Turns out it’s just a modified Whizbang dressed up as a washing machine.  Nothing wrong with the design, but not what I was hoping for – I wanted to use as many of the machine’s original components as possible.

Unafraid – well… maybe a little afraid – of venturing into unknown territory without the guidance of an anonymous appliance hacking guru, I forged ahead. Continue reading Chicken Plucker: Part One