Last Christmas, when my husband asked me what I wanted as a gift, I answered (naturally!) that I wanted a flock of chickens. "Can't I just go to the jewelry store like the other guys??" I told him to quit whining - we have a farm and a farm needs chickens! So, we found a few birds on Craigslist and set about building a shelter for them.
The first chicken shelter was horrible. It consisted of some PVC pipe arched over and covered with poultry wire. I'm pretty sure the local fox population thought of it as a takeout container. Something had to be done, and a determined search led us to a chicken coop built by an older farmer - all we had to do was go and pick it up. We did so, and along with that came 3 more hens. Now I had 8 birds, three of whom began crowing, thus destroying my dreams of 6-8 eggs per day. But, I like the sound of a rooster crowing, so all was not lost, until one of the nasty little things began attacking our legs.
This left me with a dilemma... getting rid of the rooster meant dumping an aggressive animal on somebody else, which I was loath to do. And turning him loose meant he could attack visitors. Again, that wouldn't work. As a responsible bird owner, I had to rehabilitate him or put an end to him. So, we tried paying lots of attention to the bird, but he still attacked anyone who went in with his hens. I found homes for the two friendly roosters, but the last one had to be dealt with.
I put it off for weeks, until finally I went in among the hens to clean the water container. The rooster attacked me, and broke the skin. I still have a mark, and if it had been a child, the rooster could have put an eye out. That very day the rooster went into the soup pot, and just last week we had another stewed chicken. I don't like it, but it's part of keeping livestock.
As to the deed itself? Let me just say that if I had to do that everyday, we would eat significantly less meat around this house. But, there's something to be said for getting your hands dirty and actively participating in every stage of the process. Chickens are the perfect homestead animal - they turn table scraps and grain into eggs and meat very efficiently. For my part, though, I prefer the eggs!
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