Monday, October 22, 2012

Best Laid Plans


Even the best laid plans can take a sudden detour as with our plan for raising dual purpose chickens. Dual purpose birds provide the best of both worlds. They won't win prizes for the number of eggs laid, but they will provide a more than adequate amount and while they'll never tip the scales like some broilers, their meat is nothing to scoff at. Dual purpose birds, a good choice for a small homestead such as ours, tend to be healthier and better foragers. A fact, well seen in our Chanteclers. 
Our plan, after raising our second generation this summer, was to keep the hens for additional layers and to cull the roosters as a meat source this winter. It had become quite evident over the last few weeks that the Rooster Posse was running amok and causing all sorts of havoc. Eli, used to being the only ladies man on the scene was stressed. He tried his best to keep his virile sons away from the rest of the hens, even Callie tried to help him on occasion but it was a task no rooster could manage and we often found him hunkered down at night alone in Callie's doghouse while the rest of the flock was nestled in the Rural Roost and last weekend, an overzealous rooster trying, most likely, to mate with one of the banty Barred Rocks, ended up breaking her neck. The remaining two banties were quickly sequestered to a brooder box for safekeeping.  So with testosterone levels at an all time high, something had to be done...quick.

Here's where our plans, took a bit of a change. We knew of an abattoir that processed small flocks for small homesteads, but the Artist is the ultimate comparison shopper. You can bet anything he's purchased, whether it be twenty or twenty thousand dollars, has been well researched, reviews combed through and prices compared from coast to coast. After doing just that, he positioned it like this to me..."We can cram them into a crate, drive them for an hour to a processing facility where they will sit around for a few hours, more than likely scared out of their wits and extremely stressed, before being killed or we can do it ourselves at home"
Say what?
As much as I wanted to shake my head no, I knew he was right. I haven't raised these birds, giving them the coveted chicken fantasy life of free ranging to only let them down in the end with a kill in an abattoir, far, far away. And let's face it, if I'm really going to continue this life of self-sufficiency, this return to the way things used to be done before our culture got so out of whack with reality, and if I am going to continue to eat meat, then I need to be a part of the process from beginning to end, not skipping out of the more difficult parts.


And that is how, we ended up processing a few meat birds this weekend.  Did I feel like a red-neck as I de-feathered birds hanging from my clothesline. You bet I did. Did I learn the hard way that poultry evisceration requires a sharper knife than can be found anywhere in this old farmhouse? You bet I did. Did I learn the complete, and I do mean complete, anatomy of a chicken? You bet I did. Will I ever look at a chicken the same way, sitting all packaged up on the cooler shelf at the grocery store? You better believe I won't.


And this morning, it is eerily quiet. There is no chorus of crows coming from the coop. Just now a single crow, barely reaches the office window. A crow of a bird, much happier, I think, this morning. And yes, his name is Eli.



~Be well friends!

::::::::::


The Chicken Chick



15 comments:

Lynne said...

This will "age" me . . . I can remenber my mom doing "it." Not a fun memory thinking back but I remember eating the bird, very good "eats" BTW! My dad was a pheasant hunter so . . . there you go, remember that too!

Lynne said...

As soon as I saw the steaming pot I knew the direction you were going . . . smile . . .

City Sister said...

We just did the same thing a few days ago...the roos started sparing and we knew it was time to get the bad boys out! They are now being served as chicken noodle soup!

deb duty said...

I am so impressed with you! I have a brother who is the biggest red neck you'll find. He would have been right at home helping you. I, on the other hand, only bought a whole chicken at the store once because cutting it up was just so unpleasant. I stick with the nicely packaged boneless breasts now. I bet you will have some delicious meals!

Jenni said...

I guess this is an inevitability on a farm..and although a little gruesome it sounds like you were thinking of being humane at the end, so good. I remember my mother plucking chooks in the laundry tub... Horrible smell! Glad Eli is happy again.

Buttons said...

Oh Andrea I understand I have been there and it is a strange place to be put in. You made the right decision. HUGS My friend. I just shipped off five of my older cows all of which have names. I am heading to the sales barn to hopefully not cry in front of the old farmers who are used to this. HUGS to both of us I think. We are both going to be OK her name is Mandy:) no hay no cows. B

Mary Ann said...

I can appreciate your doing this, and we need to do SOMETHING of the same sort here... only most of our roos are bantams, and only "McNuggets!".

Elizabeth (Blue Clear Sky) said...

I' m not a fan of raw meat in any form but I do eat it. I think the Artist is very wise in his thinking on this and that you are very brave in tackling the job. I face the same dilemma with the rabbits. Our son is raising 4-h commercial/ meat rabbits and wants to process the meat and since I have never eaten rabbit I would prefer to stay away from the gory part. But it is the natural next step for my young farmer. I guess I just have to make sure he plans to eat it as well as the processing. Thanks for sharing.

jean said...

Yeah, right now we are going through too many rooster thing. It's time to eat chicken. My husband is experienced with that and he gets the job! I would probably go meatless before processing it. You're brave.

Our Neck of the Woods said...

I think that was the best decision, as hard as it may have been to do it yourself. The photo of the chicken legs tied up is powerful!

Michelle said...

You are my hero!

vintage grey said...

Oh, how I look forward to doing this one day!! How tasty they will be! xo Heather

Kathy Shea Mormino said...

GREAT blog post, I enjoyed it. Processing birds is an important topic for chicken-keepers and I think you handled it gracefully in the face of a very persuasive argument put forth by the Artist. ;)

I found you through the Homestead Barn Hop and would like to invite you to link up with us at the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week!
http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/10/clever-chicks-blog-hop-5-happy-hen.html
I think my readers would be interested in your perspective on this topic.

I hope to see you there!
Cheers!
Kathy
The Chicken Chick

Dog Trot Farm said...

Hi Andrea, I have to admit those hanging rooster legs certainly caught my attention! My hat is off to you for following through with your plan. Not something I could do. My two banty roosters behave themselves, perhaps I would feel differently if they did not! Have a lovely day, Julie.

Carla said...

I too saw where you were headed with that big pot steaming. I remember when I was younger watching my uncle popping the chickens little necks with 1 swift movement. Chickens are Good Eats