Tuesday, March 06, 2012

A whole new level of backyard chicken keeping

Fair warning.

This post and the accompanying links may not be for the squeamish...  It is all about our family taking a new step into keeping a backyard flock of chickens.

Chickens lay eggs and they are food too.  That is your last hint...

In the last few weeks I have become more convinced that one of our newest chicks was not a potential egg laying hen (which are really called pullets), but a potential noise maker and hen hassling roo (which are actually called cockerels).  In a backyard flock of 10 (now 9) birds, roosters aren't really desirable especially by the neighbors.

A few days ago The Boss Lady bought a magazine about different chicken breeds.  The suspected rooster was an Australorp and he had huge, long tail feathers.  The magazine all but confirmed my suspicions.  But conventional wisdom says that you don't know for sure until the bird gives you either a crow or an egg.

That noise I heard this morning when I was walking to the car?  Yeah, that was NOT an egg!

I posted an ad on our local chicken message board, but I knew that this guy needed a new home quickly if we were not going to make the neighbors mad. Yeah, their four barking chihuahuas?  That is another story...   No nibbles on the ad, AND Wednesday is trash day which would make it a lot easier to get the "leftovers" taken care of quickly.  It was looking like the rooster's fate was sealed.

This evening The Boss Lady and I decided to butcher the bird ourselves. So, like all good urban farmers, I hit up Google and found this link:

How to butcher a chicken in 20 minutes or less... 

After a few hours of reading up on how to best process and butcher chickens, I decided that this was the best method for us to try for our first time. We would skin the bird, instead of scalding and plucking all of the feathers and there was not even a small chance I would eat the livers and gizzards...

Cut to the chase.  We did the deed and it took less than an hour, including the times that we stopped to read the instructions I printed out.  Now the bird is in the freezer and we will cook up some chicken and dumplings later this week. 

When we started with backyard chickens, I promised the kids we would not be eating their pets.  But this seems like we are kind of coming full cycle with having chickens and growing our own food in the garden. The Boss and I decided that we will tell the kids about the roo and give them a choice when it come time to eat the chicken and dumplings.

No comments: