No graphic pictures or actual descriptions of any killing on this post, in case you were wondering.
My parents, bless their hearts. A few years back they wanted to get a handful of backyard chickens for fresh eggs. They have 9 acres in the some-what country, so they built a coop, put up a fence and waited patiently for their baby chicks to arrive at the town post office.
A straight-run of 50 is what they ordered. This means that the breeder doesn’t determine the sex, they just ship them and you get what you get (male/female-wise). Playing with the laws of probability, they figured they would get somewhere close to half females and half males, give or take.
The plan would be to butcher some of the roosters and ideally keep about 12-18 layers long term.
The chicks finally arrived, 50 little Road Island Reds, and they were absolutely adorable. Although my dad says he “hates them” now because they dig up his yard and are mean to each other, he still tells the story of the day that they arrived and he dipped all 50 of their little beaks into the water dish to show them how to drink. Tough guy…
The chicks grew, started to develop personalities and then hit puberty. Statistical mathematics took a big hit the day we realized that out of 50 chickens, there was only one rooster! He was living the good life, if you know what I mean.
We named him Johnny Bravo.
One month after getting the chicks, an unfortunate event occurred that turned my mother and hunter-trapper-butcher father into complete and utter softies. The neighbor dogs got into the fence and went on mass killing spree, murdering 15 chickens in a matter of minutes. It was bloody.
Yes, they were only chickens and they were meant to be killed anyways, but the chaos, panic and sadness of that day really hit my parents hard. They developed a bond with chickens that were left, and I think that was the day they decided they wouldn’t be able to butcher any of them.
Fast forward to current times…
Four years later and they had 13 dried up hens left, and with winter knocking at the door here in Western Wisconsin. It was time to get rid of the gals. Lugging buckets of water multiple times per day in -20 degree F weather gets old fast.
Mom and dad still couldn’t bring themselves to butcher the chickens. Karl and I were welcome to take them or they were going to offer them to some local Amish. Naturally, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
We highly value meat from animals that were fed a proper diet, a natural diet, a diet that they were meant to eat. Those chickens had the run of 9 acres every day for the last four years. They spent their time inside the compost bin, lounging under the lilacs, at the edge of the woods kicking up leaves, and running like lightening for no apparent reason, from one side of the yard to the other, looking like little people with their hands tied behind their backs. You see it, don’t you?
We valued their life and appreciate the nourishment that the chickens provide to us. We knew that the meat would be tough, so we prepared in advance for that, and only cook the meat with moist, low and slow heat in order to ensure tender, edible chicken. We cherish every package of chicken we take out of the freezer and not a speck of it goes to waste. It’s as good as gold in our house!
Tell me- what do you do with your dried up hens…
Give them away?
Let them live out their days on your farm?
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