“David, I can’t meet you in Vermont because I have to get ready for the hurricane.”
It was September 2017 and Lloyd and I had booked flights to see Bruce and Beth Hennessey’s Maple Wind Farms’ Plant in a Box near Burlington, Vermont. I went alone. Lloyd fought Hurricane Maria.
Months went by before Lloyd finally sent me a short message. Mucho dańo. A lot of damage. The entire island was devastated by the full force of Maria. So it was something of a miracle for Lloyd’s Plant in a Box to be in full operation only a year later.
As Renée and I drove south out of San Juan and over the 3000’ hills in the center of the island toward Lloyd’s coastal town of Salinas, I imagined Lloyd making this identical drive every week to get his guinea hens processed. No wonder he had his PIB up and running so fast, quickly reaching 600, then 800 birds per day on the days I visited and filmed. We appreciated the slower pace of Salinas and admired all the agriculture, from cattle to plantains, and many other crops we didn’t recognize. We especially appreciated Lloyd’s hospitality.
Lloyd is a big farmer but he didn’t start out that way. Like me, he grew up a city kid. Then he grew tomatoes. Lots of tomatoes. Then it was cattle, pigs, and guineas over several farms. And two restaurants! From the open patio of one we looked down into the emerald Caribbean, amazed to see four foot tarpons swimming slowly, hoping for scraps. There Lloyd treated us to his home grown pork turned into a local favorite, lechón al fogón con platanos.
The first day I visited the crew processed 800 older hens. They had some creative ways to use the evisceration line, hanging three birds per shackle til all 18 shackles were full. Fifty-four birds on an eight foot line! It did make using the pneumatic hock cutters efficient as you can see in the video. At 5 lbs a bird x 54 birds = 270 lbs, it was the most weight I’ve seen yet hanging from a PIB. We calculate our evisceration line could support eight beef halves hanging so it wasn’t a weight concern.
Here is the video of the hen processing.There are a few things you’ve never seen before in it, I’ll keep them a surprise. Enjoy! Also be sure to follow so you are notified when the Guinea Hen video from Puerto Rico comes out.