Monday, January 10, 2011

Of Chickens.

There is so much going on at the farm right now that involves poultry. It's funny because we're not really a "farm" yet. We're getting there, working towards it but there is a long way to go.

I'm currently in the process of building a 4x4' coop with an attached nesting box. Cross your fingers it's doesn't come out completely widdershins. I'm trying my best here but I'm doing it solo. I'm utilizing scraps and broken fence boards (the replacement privacy fence boards that get damaged or broken that the hardware store sells half price). So far I have a completed floor, 1 wall and most of 2 additional walls. I did purchase new lumber for the floor skids and framing but so far we're at a total of about forty dollars.

The fourteen chicks have been moved out to the barn in the goat's stall. They're doing fine so far with their heat lamp and many bodies to snuggle against.  The only complaint I have is that they go through feed like no one's business. We're needing to get another fifty pound bag and it's only been three weeks.

In other chicken news we got our first egg Friday night. It was tiny and blue-green and absolutely beautiful.

Saturday morning I took Coco to a local farm and had him slaughtered. It was a jarring experience for me. Remember now, I'm a city girl used to chicken unrecognizable from it's feathered beginnings. I had raised Coco since he was just a tiny puff ball of a chick so small I could close my hand all the way around him. It was -and still is- unsettling for me to have literally felt the void where his life had been only moments before his head came off. It was done quickly and resepectfully and I'd like to think he only had the one bad day in his five months of life. But I still haven't been able to bring myself to cook him and eat him. The scenes from the day keep flashing before my eyes when I see his saran wrapped carcass.

I'm avoiding the freezer right now.

One thing that I now realize that Coco had on his rooster duty roster was keeping the turkey vultures away. Yesterday morning I came out to see more than half a dozen of these giant birds perched on the barn. Another dozen were circling. They're the size of my dog. With a six foot wingspan.

Thankfully, they don't like people or dogs. So, Leeloo got barn duty for the rest of the day.

She was pretty happy with that. Working dogs need work. I think we're going to move her run over towards the barn as soon as we can manage it. I'm sure out of the brooding chicks we'll get quite a few rooster candidates. I'll test drive them to see who gets the position. Roosters aren't bad. They're good at keeping the chickens safe and mating them but they do have agressive tendancies. Some breeds more than others, some roosters are jerkier than some. Kinda like people in that respect.

I don't know what my chicken future holds. I know that while I can give them a good life, I can also give them a good death. Could I do it myself? I don't think I could. Could I help? Probably not. Does that mean that I will cease to eat chicken? I'm not sure yet. I have to discover if I feel that ensuring a happy and healthy life with a humane and respectful slaughter with minimal stress and pain that I am not present for is acceptable to me and my beliefs.

1 comment:

  1. Jeff told me I'm not allowed to name the chickens when we get them! He says they are "Chicken 1, Chicken 2, etc." But.....aren't those names? I'm with you....I don't know if I could take a life with my own hands. I know Jeff can and will do it right. I THINK I can cook them and eat them long as they don't have faces to look at me with. I think I can detach myself that far.
    I'm enjoying seeing you evolve and can't wait until it's my turn!