Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Roosters

It is interesting to note that we are still enchanted by our new washing machine; it has to be the window through which we can watch our washing go round.

We are now down to thirteen chooks. One of our hens died last weekend, we don’t know why. My partner in crime and life went to lock them in the pen in the evening and we always count them, we were one short. When I went up and did a re-count, I found it was Peg who was missing; she is never missing as she is never far from the flock, never going off on her own. A short search found her under the pigeon peas, not a mark on her that we could find, it was quite sad.
Peg is the hen a the back, next to her is Gaga, Dirty and Orange

We have been working on the second pen so we could separate out the six young chooks, three roosters and three hens. The young roosters have been chasing the hens around, a lot of running and screaming and screaming and running, and the hens have been fairly stressed and we haven’t been getting many eggs.

So we pushed through (well, my partner in crime and life did with some help from me) and finished the pen enough that it was completely enclosed, had a door and a roof over the house section. We have temporarily put up some tarps for walls till we can locate some more corrugated iron.

We got the three roosters in one day, not easy to separate just a few from the flock, and then the next day we got the three young hens in. The original flock and the three big chicks (who are now fat hens) have now settled back down now that all the running and screaming has stopped. The new problem that emerged from this is that the two dominate roosters started to fight each other, this is also not a good look.

We knew we had to get rid of two of the young roosters and had already picked which one we would keep to lead our second (rather small) flock. So then begins the lead up to getting rid of them. We know people who are verging on vegetarians and they get rid of roosters by taking them bush and letting nature take its course, but we don’t agree with this, being devoured by a bush python in a strange place doesn’t sound like a nice way to go. However it means they don’t have to do any chopping off of heads themselves.

I can understand this, it is something that I can’t do either but I think we are showing more respect for this animal by giving it a good and happy life, roaming free around the property and ending it very quickly and humanly. So that is what my partner in crime and life and our number one and only son have done, with me somewhere else.

So we have now eaten one of the roosters and the other is in the freezer. My partner in crime and life skinned them rather than plucking which apparently is much easier, and to tell you the truth I didn’t’ really want to know any more details so can’t tell you more.

We put them into the fridge to sit for 24hours or so and cut one up for cooking, freezing the carcass for soup later on, and the other one was put whole in to the freezer. The one we cooked was very tender, cooking it in the pressure cooker and the meat turned out quite red, I think that is because they were so well fed and they free ranged. The taste was quite different from farmed chicken, very nice and I didn’t’ have any problems eating them, thought I might but I didn’t.

It goes to show though how far removed we are from our food source, that we mindlessly buy meat on a Styrofoam tray without a thought where it has come from and whether the animal treated properly. I believe we are meant’ to eat meat, though not in the quantities a lot of people do, nor every day, and I believe we should be mindful of what we are eating and not to waste anything, which is very disrespectful to the animal who has given up its life.

So we have now done it, not something I could do regularly but it all worked out. I know a lot of people would be mortified, but everyone I know eats meat and at least I can say these birds had good free lives and were respected (they had to go one way or another) and I know where the meat for our dinner came from last night, which is more than most people can say.


  1. I find this a really interesting post. My hubby is vegetarian. He has said to me on many occasion that he wouldn't be prepared to eat an animal that he couldn't kill himself. I think part of this philosophy is because people forget where meat comes from and are often unaware of the practices used to slaughter the animal. (There are other issues too, but I won't elaborate here!) In a way, I see that your experience actually is an extension of this principle. You were prepared to give the animal a good life and you "walked the talk", so to speak. You treated the animal with dignity, gave the animal a humane ending and the animal did not go to waste.

    I also agree with you that this is the way life (rearing animals and then using them as a food source) has been the way for hundreds, even thousands of years. I honestly think the simple reality is people often don't want to think of where meat "comes from", because it is unsettling.

    Finally, I'll never forget my Dad talking about his experiences as a child with his pet chicken called "Mr Chicky" to my friend and I many years ago. My friend asked "Whatever happened to Mr Chicky?" and my Dad said "He became a roast. Absolutely delicious! ;-)" She was horrified, but it was a reality check of what life was like just a generation ago. Yes, animals were pets, but at times, they also were required as a food source. My, how quickly times change!

  2. Thank you for your comment Kate, it was a hard thing to do and to write about too.

    While we are meat eaters we have a lot of meatless meals and we stretch our meat with beans and veges and such so we only have a small amount in our meals. I also always give thanks to the animal when we eat meat.

    We won't be having any more baby chicks for a fair while so we won't have to do this again but it has been an experience.

  3. Good on you. Like you say, many people would think it a horrible thing to do but it's a part of life when you are trying to live the way we are.
    I couldn't *do the deed* myself but I have helped clean them. We skin them too.