The sign of the chicken

Years ago Ben’s parents had this metal sign made for us.  At the time we were living in a small San Antonio neighborhood and I couldn’t fathom any reason why I would or should have a sign with our name and a chicken in my house.

Little did any of us know what foreboding the chicken sign would have on my life now.

For years I lugged that thing around.  Hiding it in closets, underbeds, the back of the utility room.  I was all for the country, distressed look but a chicken?! Really?!

Then  we moved to the woods.  And not just any woods.  Two acres of overgrown, barely cleared for the house, snaky woods.

Soon came the goats.

      “But why?!” I asked
      To clear the pens and chicken coup.
      “But why?!”
      So we can have chickens.

Of course.

And there I was. Finally in a situation where the chicken sign could come home to roost.  And I wouldn’t change it for a thing.  Well I would add more land for more goats and chickens and a barn and more gardens and OH a tractor and for me to be able to stay home and take care of all this stuff.  But all of that is yet to come.

But someday.
I had a sign.

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The last crow

Today was a first for the Darley Farm. We killed, cooked and ate (well I picked a few bits to see how it tasted) an animal we had raised.

Our rooster, has crowed his last. I won’t pretend I’m sad in any way. In fact it was I who sent down the death sentence earlier this week. As beautiful and proud as he looked, a peaceful addition to the flock he was not. Since his maturity into rooster-dom, we’ve lost 2 hens. And not to predators.

Our first victim survived and is currently running the show at the Greer Urban Cottage Farm Project.

But sadly the second died on Wednesday. She was one of our first hens we raised from a chick. An araucana. Admittedly she was getting up there in age. She was going on 3 years and her demise could have had a lot to do with that. But it still doesn’t excuse the fact he left her crippled on the coup floor. She was a good hen and still provided eggs.
I as well as the rest of the family have had run ins with him. He would attack you. I had the glaring proof and pain to prove it.

Maybe it’s just that our old rooster Birchy did such a great job. Maybe Black was just young. But to take our flock from 6 down to 4 wasn’t showing improvement. And what if he got after a visitor who hasn’t learned to keep him in the corner of their eye at all times. I want our farm to be a place where people can come and enjoy watching and experiencing the animals, not running for their lives.

Our oldest David had the hardest time with the fact that we had killed, plucked and had the rooster in the oven by the time he came home from grandma’s. (now the other two were perfectly fine with this, namely because they share the chicken duty and have had a few run ins with him) He just didn’t see why we just couldn’t drop him off somewhere. We had a long talk (ok so I was rather excited because he called me cruel) about the fact that these animals aren’t really our pets. We love them and take care of them the best we can but on a farm the animals have to serve a purpose. 
 
And I admit. When it came time for the actual harvest, I did waver a bit. The thought are we horrible entered my mind. But then I thought about the hens and I thought about my leg and all doubt was subsided. I’m still a bit squeamish with the whole blood and guts thing. I did assist Ben but turned my head a lot.

We were nervous about how he would taste. That old adage that mean birds were tough birds. After he had plucked and gutted, he quartered it up and we set it to roast on very low heat.  I tried a bit once it was cooked. So very tasty and only a bit chewy. Not in tough way though and certainly not dry. David is still turning his nose up at it. If he doesn’t come out of this a vegetarian it will be a close miracle. Luke said he really didn’t have any interest in eating him. Phoebe although happy to not have to deal with Black anymore proclaimed she would not be eating a bite of him because she believed he was possessed by the devil. Ben said then by all means, don’t let her have a bite because she sure didn’t need anymore of that.

I have to admit I am really looking forward to a crowless Sunday morning.