Thursday, January 8, 2015

Once there was a boy... ***WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT***

Back in the beginning of November, I went to visit my friend in Omemee.
Her and her fella live on a 55 acre farm and raises beef, chickens and has a landscaping business
called Green Side Up Environmental Services.

She told me all about her struggles trying meat hens for the first time.
She went on to explain that she lost some of her laying hens during a cold snap.
Let me clarify here.
She didn't lose the hens because it was cold.
She lost the laying hens because when they all huddled in together...the meat hens squashed the layers.

So she did what most farmers would do.  She ordered more laying hens.
As her new laying hens began to grow...she noticed a few that stood out.
Stood out because they were HUGE!
Their feet, beaks and bodies were twice the size of hens bought at the same time.
They also had very beautiful long tail feathers.
She suspected they were, in fact, ROOSTERS.

While a rooster can be a very good addition to your flock 
(for a variety of reasons, such as breeding your hens, flock protection, managing the pecking order)
my friend's flock already had a rooster.
Here is where we get into the nitty gritty of farms and homesteads.
My friend has a working farm...and the cost prohibits the owning of more than one rooster.
You only need one per flock - and why would you spare the expense of feeding more than one?
She suggested that we try to take one of them...and if it doesn't work out, throw him in the stew pot!
That being said, I figured it was either her stew pot or ours.
Up until now, we considered our flock as pets.
I was so excited to introduce our girls to their new boyfriend.
I was so excited that I just put him in the coop.

Everything seemed great...for a few minutes.
Then one girl went at him with a small snip.
His neck feathers puffed out.
Then her feathers puffed out.

Then it was all out war.

Those girls attacked him with a fury I had not seen from our flock.
I decided to give them some extra room and I opened up the door to the run.
The girls chased him out the door...and wouldn't let him back in the coop.
By 8pm, he was still outside sitting on the tire.
I picked him up and brought him into the basement (aka chicken hospital)

Granite (of course we named him) stayed in the basement for 3 weeks.
During that time, I researched on how to introduce a rooster to your flock.
There are many great online resources to check out.
I found a lot of good info right here.

I didn't intend to keep him in our basement for 3 just happened that way.
During that time he learned how to cock-a-doodle-doo and generally seemed happy.
I thought I'd try the nighttime trick (placing the rooster in the coop while everyone is asleep).
The idea being that when they wake up, they act like he's always been there.

Sadly, that wasn't the case.
I watched over the course of a week and a half while the girls kept attacking him.
He crunched into a milk crate all day everyday just to get away from their constant assaults.
They kept him from food and water.
It was torture for him....and torture for us to watch.

Finally, we made the decision to end his suffering.


Now comes the graphic part.
If you don't want to read about the butchering part...please stop reading NOW.


My husband is a trained cook.
He has his Red Seal and works in a kitchen full time.
That being said...he admitted that he had never butchered his own meat before.
Sure he filets fish...
Sure he was trained to carve up meat cuts.
But he freely admits they never walked a cow into the kitchen and had the students get to work
from start to finish.
Makes establishments aren't supposed to have access to live meat.
Their are strict laws to ensure that all meat was butchered in a sanitary environment.

We have only ever butchered a rabbit once before.
(shot in our own backyard)
We watched a YouTube video on how to do it!
After that event, I decided to purchase a book on butchering meat.
(You know, just in case there is no power...or internet connection)

I selected this book because it had a nice mix of meat including wild game.
I thought the section on poultry was decent...but when Ches read the chapter...he felt he needed more instruction.
We searched online for other resources to help us out.

There was one standout site:

Bookmark that site for easy reference!!!
Seriously a great site.

I didn't take any pictures of the event itself...mostly because it was dark out.
That, and I wasn't sure what (if any) pictures I would want to show of the process.

Ches took Granite's head off with an axe and I went out to help with the plucking.

I will say that I was totally torn about this whole event.
I wanted to be a tough country chick.
I wanted to be detached and logical about the whole thing.
I wanted to tell myself that we were putting himself out of his misery and feeding our family.

I also wanted to throw up.

The more feathers we pulled out...the more the carcass started to look like what you'd buy at the market.
The less I felt squeamish.
That is, until Ches started carving.
When he wrenched the legs backwards to break the joint and cut...
Oh...the sound.

Is this getting too graphic?
I dunno...I just wanted to be honest about what we did and how I felt about it.
Perhaps I'm not as country as I thought.
Perhaps I should go back to being a vegetarian.
Perhaps we shouldn't eat meat that we've named.

All I can say, is that we made chicken and dumplings for dinner.
It was a delicious recipe...but the chicken...well...I just couldn't bring myself to truly enjoy it.

Recipe came from Martha

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