The Great Rooster Massacre

We have been watching the chickens, trying to figure out who we had in the flock. If you remember, I wanted to buy 12 hens, so I could have a dozen eggs a day, and one rooster to greet us in the morning. After hours of close observation, we were sure we had two hens and too many roosters. Now what. Sigh. I never wanted to get this personal with a chicken. 

Thankfully, we have friends to help us in our time of need. I have a friend, who has a friend, who has a son who knows how to take care of too many roosters. My friend called me this morning and told me her son and her friend’s son would be available to do the dirty deed in two hours. I gasped, then rushed everyone to get in the car. First I had to drop three children off at piano, then I had to fill my nearly empty gas tank, then we had to run by the library and return books that were due yesterday, then we picked up the “chicken technicians”. 

Timothy and Darien got their equipment ready and I made a “table” out of a board balanced on the barn fence on one side and a bale of hay and a large flower pot on the other side. I threw a vinyl table cloth, that I did not care to use again, over the whole thing, got out my cutting board, boiled a huge pot of water, and we set to work. 

The first job was to catch the roosters. These guys aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer, but they knew something dreadful was about to catch up with them. They resisted capture with all the courage they could muster. David has battle scars to prove it. 

Never try to catch a rooster with your face.

We stowed the birds in a chain link dog kennel (picture at top). Timothy has obviously done this many times before. The rest of us were a bit skittish, waiting for all the chicken horror stories we had ever heard to come to life before our eyes. I expected a bloody mess, a lot of squawking, feathers all over the yard and ourselves, ruined clothes, a few more scratches and a bunch of dead roosters running about the yard. Most of that did not happen and what did was much less dramatic than I have been led to believe, which just goes to show that Hollywood does not know how to kill a chicken. I should have known better. Timothy started out doing most of the work, but as we watched him, most of us became more willing to wade in. Everyone except David. David will not even make meatballs with his bare hands, so I already knew he would have issues. He perched on a bag of chicken feed, nursing his wounds and reading a library book, since it appeared the rest of us had the roosters well in hand. 

When Paul went in the kennel to choose his first victim, “Dumplings” the loudmouth, slipped past him and out the door. The obnoxious fowl hopped over the boundary fence, into the neighboring woods and underbrush, where he apparently felt a false sense of security. Paul sighed and said, “Oh, well. I guess one is going to get away.”

“Oh, no, he isn’t! You hop over that fence and catch him!” I ordered. 

Paul looked at me to make sure I was serious, then he catapulted himself over the barbed wire and began clearing out the lush tropical undergrowth. Dumplings saw him coming and zig zagged all over creation. There was no way Paul could keep up. He begged me to provide a net. I found a cracked plastic flower pot behind the barn and tossed it over. Paul planted it right on top of Dumplings. 

The next order of business was to hold the bird by the feet and put him head down in a metal cone. The roosters looked around in a surprisingly calm manner. No squawking and hardly any struggle. Of course, the next thing to do is cut their throats. They did not resist at all. It makes you wonder if bird brains do much of anything. Apparently they do not have pain receptors. Or perhaps they malfunction when held upside down. 

After they are bled, you dunk the bird, held by the feet, into a pot of scalding water. This somehow loosens the feathers and they pull right off. It was as easy as pulling leaves off a tree. Easier, in fact. When you are done, you have what looks like a rubber chicken and smells just like... chicken. 

When I picked my piano students up after their lesson, I chatted with their teacher for a few moments and she asked what on earth would I do with all those dead roosters? (Scratching my head) I thought we would eat them. She said, “Oh! Right!” Yes, organic free-range chicken, right in the backyard. Funny how we forget where food comes from. as if it came from the grocery store, all wrapped in plastic. But to be fair, I never wanted to butcher my own meat. I just wanted the eggs! Paul, on the other hand, really got into this. He insisted on cutting off the heads with his little hatchet, just like granny would have done. No blood. It really amazed us how much less gross this was than we expected. With Paul’s help, I think we could do this again if we had to. There is a little bit more involved than what I have shared, but I did not get pictures of the “technicians” cleaning the inside of the birds. I was just thankful I didn’t have to do it. I contributed by heating up my 12 liter pot of water after every other bird and plucking a few. Even David got over his initial horror and helped us pluck feathers. 

I am much more comfortable in the kitchen than at the butcher’s block, but lately, I have preferred to sew rather than cook dinner. If I didn’t have so many hungry people following me about asking me what I would feed them, I might fast for a few weeks while I finished up a few projects. Since I can’t get away with that, I just sneak in a little stitching here and there. Last week I finished mother/daughter aprons I started about two years ago. I must have gotten distracted when I had a baby or moved, or both. 

We have had a couple of cold fronts come through, bringing a fake fall, so I have made several kinds of soup. That’s all the fall we need. Summer will be back on Monday. In the meantime, how about some chicken soup? 

© Being Fruitful, 2012