Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sweet Patootie and the Chickens

I was the one who wanted chickens. I'd had them years before as a hippy chick living in the country and I wanted them again. They are easy and they give you eggs - what's not to want? SP went along eventually. He never had a dog and I had Hoagy but then he had two kids and mine were grown so seemed fair in that demented way we might weigh and balance things in a relationship. (Or perhaps it is only me that does that?)
The chickens were a marvel to him though and in his quiet way I saw how he responded to them in a positive way. He was a bit blue the summer that we got them - we were having $ problems and he'd had a couple of difficult projects so...  They amused him and lifted his spirits. He began to take over their care bit by bit. I still did stuff but I do lots of things and well, he's up in the morning earlier so he started making sure they had their water and feed.
And when we found out we had four roosters to cull (having given away one and kept one out of the six) he dispatched them or as he calls it "I'll knock their heads off". This was a great relief to me who had never participated in that with my earlier flock - I sent them on to a teacher friend who kept them until they died of old age. I quickly realized that this was the gift of keeping livestock - you got to learn quickly if you were a meat-eater that you had to deal somewhat in death. Even if you are a vegetarian and eat eggs - birds are killed so you can have that pleasure. This had not been so clear to me before. That is why some folks are vegans - they want none of it. I like meat, I like turkey and chicken and beef and lamb and bacon! I like cheese and creamy cream and butter. So this became part of the process and I at least helped when the birds were brought up the stairs, all plucked and ready to go by SP. This summer and fall we lost three birds - Crow died first - egg bound we think, then Deary was killed by a shrike and thirdly one of RIR's was culled as she was ill - egg bound maybe - we weren't sure. Now we are down to three birds - Jackmo, the lovely rooster, Ruby, the remaining bird from the first bunch and Miss Prissy, Jackmo's sister and the only one really laying eggs (and pretty poorly these days). We had decided we would have to send them off to Kenmore Camp as that is not a flock and it would be difficult to keep them warm this winter. But the deed hasn't been done yet. Because...well because it is hard to do and SP has been putting it off and I am sure not going to say boo about that.
This morning when SP brought me my coffee in bed, he informed me that there was half a bucket of feed left. I immediately thought 'oh, I have to go out to Sackville and get another bag' followed by me uttering 'so..ooo?' and SP answering 'it means we have a deadline'.
In the spring we'll get new chicks - think I'm going to order them from a hatchery that mails them so I can get all girls. Enough of the needless part of the killing I guess. But there will always be death on the farm no matter how small the farm is. And that is a gift.


2 comments:

Hart Johnson said...

There IS death on a farm, isn't there? Birth, too. I grew up in a funny place where probably a quarter of my classmates were farm kids--I think it is good for adjustment to the fact that sometimes life is shitty (both literally and figuratively).

grrl + dog said...

Ah..

a chicken post and a lovely one at that.
Yep, as some farm people say round my parts,
"you have yer live stock, and yer deadstock".

Still, I cant imagine "dispatching" anything...

Hope these ones have a better go.