I dreaded it for days–no weeks–prior. Every time I’d look at them I felt guilty. But it had to be done. I had too many free-loading chickens eating me out of house and home and it was time to do some culling.
So Saturday I shipped my daughter off to Nana’s house and got down to business.
We did seven stewing hens in about 2 hours. A record time for us! This is our 5th time butchering and you really do get faster as you get experience.
I think the first 2 or 3 hens I apologized to and thanked them for their sacrifice, but it got easier. My husband does the killing and plucking (or skinning) and I do the cutting up part. It’s a good system for us. Honestly, what relief I felt (as I do every time) to have less crazy chickens to worry about. I had 39. Now I have 32. 39 chickens are too many for me. Too much drama! And I was finding myself filling the feeder far too often.
When we were done processing our stewing hens, my husband came over to me and said, “you know, when you get married you think you know what makes a woman happy…until you see how she looks at you after you kill a chicken.” My Bright-and-Shining-Farmer. He knows that getting projects done and worries off my mind is something worth more to me than diamonds.
Now if these new pullets (all 26 of them) will just start laying here soon… I really hope I don’t have to feed them all winter without recouping any of my costs. I usually get my chicks in March or April. I was a little late this year. Plus I haven’t had any eggs for sale in over a month since the older girls began moulting.
I kept the five Easter Eggers to assure us of eggs over the winter. They have been wonderful layers all along and I may keep them an extra year or two if they keep up the good work. Two of them, Kitten and Sunbeam — they have become pets. I think they will be with us for a long time.
Once the last of the Black Australorps were gone, Little Boy Blue the cockerel (young rooster) realized his advantage and immediately seized upon it. He jumped a couple of the EE’s just to show them who was boss. I dislike him already even though he is good-looking. Rooster attitude just rubs me the wrong way. I told him he better watch his back or he’d be next in the pot. Bad roosters make good dumplings! As long as he doesn’t get smart with me I’ll allow him to hang around my coop and eat my feed for a while. This may be the last time I let Murray McMurray Hatchery trick me into falling for their “free” rooster ploy…
Eat, drink and be merry. That’s the life of a chicken. They take no thought for tomorrow (Matt. 6:25-26). They just enjoy today. Eating, dust bathing, laying in the sun, chasing bugs, eat some more, go to bed early, get up early and do it all over again… Isn’t that how we all should be? And not worrying about things we’ve put off until tomorrow. I’m a little jealous of how easily it comes for them. I’m going to have to start channelling my inner chicken. Especially the early bird part, because I am so not.
It’s been a couple of days now and my daughter has not noticed that there are any chickens missing at all. She has plenty left to entertain her.
One evening not long ago when we were having barbecue chicken for dinner, my little girl got out of her chair, drumstick in hand and looked out the window and declared, “thank you chickens for my chicken!” She really likes her chickens, but her statement rings truer than she at this age can quite know.