Make Way for Chick(ling)s

Y’know that lovely old children’s story, Make Way for Ducklings?  In it, a mother duck and her newly-hatched babes make their way through the crowded streets of Boston in order to meet up with Dad, who had flown ahead to find a nice spot to live.  Along the way, they are aided by friendly policemen and concerned citizens, until they are safely reunited as a family.

This story is like that one, except without the lovely policemen.  Also, there are no concerned citizens.  And no one is reunited at the end.  And there’s no mother duck.  In fact, it’s not about ducks at all.  And there is killing.

Now that I think of it, this is actually the opposite of that story.

Our friends wanted to start keeping chickens, so we gave them four pullets last summer.  As the birds grew, it soon became apparent that one of the pullets was actually a cockerel which, at the time, seemed like a good thing.  The family felt that it would be nice to have a rooster if they ever wanted to hatch chicks, plus the whole crowing thing added a nice touch of farmyness to their weekend escape.

Darth, in his final moments on Death Row

Darth, in his final moments on Death Row

Because the cockerel was almost entirely black and had a head shaped like a helmet, the kids named him Darth.

And, as will happen as cockerels become roosters, Darth became a ruthless hen-molesting bully.

He became so aggressive, that when our friends raised some new chicks and wanted to introduce them to the existing flock, there was no way Darth was not going to kill them.  They were too small to defend themselves and the space available to them made full separation impossible.

It was time for Darth to go.

Now, I’m not much for killing.  I couldn’t finish a pig (I still have to close my eyes and turn my head when that moment comes) and I could never hunt a deer or a turkey either.  I think my biggest obstacle is my fear that I’ll miss and injure or scare the animal; some fears (this one, for sure) are pretty debilitating and un-get over it-able.

Pigs are lovely, loving, and funny.  Deer are beautiful and gentle.  Turkeys are familial and intelligent.

Roosters, however, are complete wankers.

This small fact makes all the difference for me when it comes time to cull one or more from the flock.  This also allowed me to take Darth home with me the other day and “take care” of him for our friends.

A quick (and relatively painless) end

A quick (and relatively painless) end

It is a quick and simple process that involves

1) knocking out the bird with a quick smack to the back of the head, rendering it unconscious,

2) placing it into the cone and making an incision into the neck through the jugular to drain it of all its blood,

3) hanging it by its feet to easily de-feather and eviscerate, and

4) removing the feet (which the dogs really love–upsetting my vegetarian daughter to no end) and rinsing the bird so it may be stored for eating.

Luke, I am your dinner.

Luke, I am your dinner.

There is something immensely satisfying to me about culling roosters.

When a creature is making the lives of other creatures miserable and needs to be removed from the situation, it is gratifying to be able to eliminate the problem humanely and walk away with the start of a pot of soup.

Because these birds are fed to lay eggs, rather than to produce meat, Darth is undoubtedly destined for the pot, rather than the grill.

Either way, we have indeed made way for chicks.

About applewoodfarm

Restaurateur, farmer, bartender, beekeeper, friend, wife, mother, dog lover, cat tolerater, chicken hypnotizer, blogger, and sometime yogi
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3 Responses to Make Way for Chick(ling)s

  1. I can’t wait to have some Darth Soup……
    Thanks for making room for the chicks 🙂

  2. Susan H says:

    We just had our first culling, our own hand raised hen-molesting cockerel. It was sad and satisfying at the same time. Like Luke, he’d become too aggressive to the ladies and started attacking us. No way would we risk our granddaughter. We’d never killed anything bigger than a fish on our own, but did our research, and felt the most humane method (in our humble opinions) was what you did. Thank you for sharing your own story, it reinforces all the feelings that go along with the facts of life on a farm. Only thing we did differently was to just completely skin ours, as newbies the process took us some time and we thought defeathering would take too long. Thanks again, really enjoy reading about your farm!

    • If it makes you feel better, Darth was the first chicken I’ve ever plucked without skinning. We always skin because it’s much easier, but this particular bird was just the opposite. Thanks for your comment!

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