Posts Tagged ‘animal harvest’

The Great Rooster Disaster of 2012

#1 Mommy raised the three chicks.  Yay!

Two faverolles:  Bonus.

One bantam Belgian d’Anvers (BBD):  Cool.

Not so cool:  The BBD is a rooster.

However, we’ll go with what we’ve got.  Besides, hopefully the BBD can help protect the flock from the #%$&! red-tailed hawk that is federally protected and prowling the skies with poultry on its mind.  We nickname the BBD “Little Roo” and we loved his cute stature and musical crowing.

It was not to last.  Nature reared its ugly head in the form of teenage rooster hormones.  Little Roo attacked our daughter’s very threatening pink butterfly boots while I was across the garden.  Our dog rescued her by driving off Little Roo.  Hmm.  I’ve heard about banty roos and their Napoleonic aggressiveness and privately vowed to keep our child close by while out in the garden.  A few days went by without incident. Until one morning, we went to collect eggs hand in hand.  From across the lawn, Little Roo came flying at my daughter’s face, spurs out.  Really?!  I’m right there holding her little toddler hand!

That’s it, husband.  Something’s got to be done about the rooster.

Crying, my daughter insists that Little Roo can learn to be nice and that we shouldn’t eat him up.  So I lied.  Yup, I took the easy way out and lied to the toddler.  “Ok,” I said, “we’ll send Little Roo to a nice farm were he can learn to be nice.”

That nice farm was coq au vin.  And it was indeed nice.

However, husband didn’t have much of an appetite.

So much for my brilliant plans to help the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy‘s mission by raising endangered chicken breeds.  It’ll have to wait until the kids are old enough to don protective gear and ward off flying coq au vin.

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A Difficult Letter to Write to Chickens

Dear Chickens,

Mommy has been conflicted since you came into our lives last summer and my child kissed the tops of your fluffy heads. Is it odd to call myself your mommy? After all, I am the only one you knew since hatching from your shell. Like all beginnings, we knew there would be joys and tragedies, but I did not foresee how welcoming you into our garden would change my daily life. Before you came, I went grocery shopping; I ate. Now I cannot make a menu or walk past the market’s glistening shelves of plastic-wrapped cuts without thinking of you, thinking of your warm chicken-ness, thinking of your curious beak begging a treat, thinking of each feather quill on each of my fingers when I carry you inside your run at night. I’ve read about what your kin are subjected to in factory farms and wasn’t that the point of raising you here at home? To give you dignity, freedom, and chicken-joy?

We have had lots of joy: Glorious eggs, chicken chatter, scratching in the compost, and dust bathing among my flower beds. We’ve already had lots of tragedy. One of your number did not make it long after hatching. It was a case of failure to thrive and we had barely met. There were still so many downy little chicks to care for. We lost another a couple of weeks later. She was partially paralyzed and suffering severely. I admit I hastened her end. I had never before purposely taken the life of another animal, but she was in pain, I assuaged myself. Then not long ago, we lost Chocolate Chips to a hawk, our friendliest and most inquisitive of the flock. She was perfectly healthy and all that was happy in the sun and grass. This was the hardest of all and I still miss her every morning. This is life on the family farm. This is the cycle.

So, dear chickens, we are daily participating in that farm cycle that precious few families and livestock experience. Do we take the next step? Do we expand our flock with a heritage breeding program to rescue an endangered breed? If our family is to eat meat, do we do so from chickens that were hatched by chicken mommies instead of electric incubators and allowed to run in the grass and nap in the sun? How do families do this? Not technically (I’ve found that in books), but spiritually, emotionally? How do we explain it to a 3 year old? How do I pluck feathers that I saw moving with breath only minutes ago? How can I not when confronted with agribusiness?

Help. I need advice.

Love,

Mommy

Ps. Perhaps you can tell I’ve been reading Alice Walker’s “The Chicken Chronicles” by the letter format, but forgive me because it feel good to write to you, my dearest chickens.

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