King Cluck II: The Chicken Mummy

We started our chicken mummy today. This disgusting hands-on project will take about two months to bring to completion.

We mummified a chicken 4 years ago. I was pregnant with our fourth son at the time, and having lots of morning sickness. Trying to preserve King Cluck didn’t help. We used cinnamon and nutmeg to try and conceal the horrible smell of rotting flesh during the mummification process. It did not help. At the time, I was sure I would never eat pumpkin pie again! And I would never, never, never make a chicken mummy again.

Here’s Jack, mixing up King Cluck I, almost 4 years ago. Notice how black King Cluck I’s body has become.

Never say never.

Here’s Jack, stirring the salt mixture today.

Our 11 year old and 8 year old remember when King Cluck was embalmed, and our 6 year old and 3 year old want the opportunity to preserve King Cluck II. I want my oldest boys to build on what they learned when we did this the first time, so I am actually considering taking it a step further. We may bury it in the backyard and dig it up next year to see if it really worked! Here’s a link showing what happened when some kids did just that.

My kids want to bury it for 4 years and dig it up next time we study Ancient Egypt. I’m not sure if I can bring myself to go that far.

Supplies needed for this project:
baking powder (3 cans)
baking soda (3 boxes)
chicken (small, or cornish hen)
freezer bags (large, get lots of them)
paper towels
plastic gloves
rubbing alcohol
salt (about 10 boxes)

Here are the directions:

1)First, put on gloves!

2) Remove the neck and package of organ meats. You can dispose of these or mummify them, too!

3) Wash the chicken well with hot running water. Pat dry with the paper towels. Wash again with the rubbing alcohol and pat dry. Wash the inside of the cavity, also. Make sure to dry the chicken as much as possible inside and out before continuing to step 4.

4) Mix 1 box baking soda, 1 can baking powder and 4 boxes of salt in a large bowl. We used a 5 gallon ice cream bucket. You can add cinnamon to help with the smell.

5) Put some of the salt mixture into the bottom of a ziploc bag. Place the chicken inside the ziploc bag on top of the salt. Pour some of the mixture into the cavity until it is full. Then pour more salt into the bag until the chicken is totally covered. Place the sealed bag inside a second freezer bag and seal. We like to place these bags into a styrofoam cooler with a lid (I got one of these at the Dollar store), as it really will start stinking soon. If you have salt mixture left, save it for tomorrow.

You might decide you want to get some small masks, too!

6) Check the chicken every day for the first week. If the salt is wet, put on your gloves, remove the chicken from the bag, dust off the salt and repeat step #5, using a fresh ziploc bag. You will probably need lots of the salt mixture, so you might want to mix up a bunch and keep it in a big bucket or ziploc bag.

7) After the first week, check the chicken once per week. If the salt is wet, transfer it to a clean bag and add more of the salt mixture inside the cavity and around its body. You’ll probably need to do this about once every 5 to 10 days.

8) After about 6 weeks, put on gloves, remove the chicken from the bag, and dust it off as much as possible. Wet a paper towel and wipe away any remaining salt. Dry it immediately afterward with paper towels.

9) Rub scented oil inside the chicken and out. You can make this oil by filling a jar with cooking or baby oil and adding a combination of pleasant-smelling spices to it. Allow it to sit in a sunny location for a week. Shake the jar 2 to 3 times a day. Drain the oil and discard the spices. This can be used in the mummy making process or as an Egyptian “perfume”. *Note: if you didn’t make this oil up ahead of time, and you are preparing your bird for wrapping right now, you can rub the body with dry spices and and then rub in unscented oil.

10) Stuff the inside of the bird with fabric or sawdust and spices (optional).

11) To wrap the bird, tear linen into 1″ strips. I am not a “purist” so we will use a cheaper, white remnant fabric rather than linen. Mix white glue and water (1 to 2 parts water to one part glue).

12) Dip the fabric strips into the glue, then begin wrapping. Wrap the wings and legs separately, and then the body. You will need to wrap the chicken in at least 2 to 3 layers. We are planning to wrap some amulets into the mummy (like the Egyptians did). We’ll cut our amulets in Egyptian shapes out of colored fun foam.

13) The boys are calling the styrofoam cooler a Sarcophagus already, so we will probably decorate that as well, before (possibly) burying it.

Comments

  1. WOW, I will be starting TOG year 1 in Aug. Can’t wait to get into this mummy thing. Ya Right but my boys might find it fun. We will see. I am so glad i found your blog so i am a few steps behind you.

  2. How Fun! I want to do this this year. My daughter did this a few years ago at a co-op. The class shared about 6 chickens and her group’s was the only one that lasted until it was a mummy!I have never done it myself and I love the directions. I will definately reread them when we get closer to the project!

  3. Hi Molly, I just wanted to thank you again for such a great post! We followed this 4 years ago and it worked beautifully. We actually never got to the burying part of our chicken as we were hoping to move. Jump forward almost 3 years and we finally moved, at which point my dh declared we were NOT moving the chicken! Being that I was pregnant and exhausted (and just didn’t care due to the exhaustion) we just threw the chicken away, never looking at it!! It had spent the past 2 1/2 years sitting in our mudroom just in a Styrofoam cooler (the sarcophagus) in it’s bag of dry salt mixture. It did not smell. Now that we are preparing to begin Year 1 again, we will be doing this once again so our younger kids can enjoy the process. I admit, I am mourning, just a small bit, the fact that we cannot dig up our first mummified chicken of 4 years ago. This one will be buried in our yard and we will dig it up sometime in the future. 🙂 The only think I want to add is a chicken weigh in each week.

    Thanks again,

    Wendy H in MA

Trackbacks

  1. […] had to throw our chicken mummy away last week, since our stay at the hospital meant he didn’t get the care he needed in a […]

Speak Your Mind

*