Friday, April 10, 2009

Dispensing with the roosters

We got rid of our roosters yesterday... the hard way (Warning, some slightly gross description to follow). I love my hens but the roosters have been a nuisance since we realized they WERE roosters. We did not order roosters. The feed store messed up.

A friend had offered to kill them for us. I said "If you can catch them, you can have them." She said "Bring them down and I will". So we were at a bit of an impasse because I can't corner the little buggers. Well her husband came up yesterday to get some eggs and he got to talking with DH. The roosters had started getting slightly aggressive last fall and have gotten a bit worse over the winter. They're not horrible but they can be territorial and they chase the little ones. Well one of them went after the baby yesterday 'for the last time' as DH puts it.

The friend went home and got his son, pistol, and a couple pocket knives and came back. By the time I got home from picking up #1 son they had already dispensed with two of the roosters and were chasing the last one around the yard. Fortunately I had the baby and the dog with me. I didn't know what they were doing, so when I pulled in I let the dog out of the car. DH wanted him him in the house so we dragged him inside and went back to chasing the rooster. Finally the friends son picked up a walking stick while we all circled the rooster. He clubbed it once over the head and it staggered then ran off and hid under a tree. Our friend ended up shooting it.

We've always agreed that the children should see slaughtering meat animals as a normal part of life so we agreed not to hide it from them. My daughter was playing with her new friend in the yard and wasn't the least bit interested in what the guys were doing til after it was all done. The 2 year old was a bit more interested. He laughed when the last one started flopping around the yard, but changed his tune a bit when he realized it was dead. It was his first confrontation with death and you could see a bit of confusion in his eyes. He hung pretty close to me for about 10 minutes and didn't want to go to dad. He also wouldn't take his eyes off that rooster, even when they cut it's head off.

I've never seen a chicken killed before but pretty much knew what to expect. They continue to flap around for a couple minutes after they're dead. I wasn't particularly grossed out til they finished ripping the head off it, something about that step just made my stomach churn a bit. That split second where it went from being a living thing to a dead one. I know it was dead before the head was cut off but in my mind it just didn't click til then.

I think I could now deal with eating my own meat birds. I wanted to get past that first slaughter before I committed to it. We're going to stick with laying hens this year but I think we'll be talking about meat birds next year.

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