Two Fridays ago I killed my second ever chicken, one of "Mr. Rooster's" kids that turned out to be a rooster after his Dad's harem. This was making "Mr. Rooster", whom I've trained to rarely crow in the daytime (he spends nights in a dog carrier covered in a sheet inside my garden shed to spare my neighbors...I let him out 10:30 on weekdays, 11AM on weekends) to begin crowing 12-15 times daily. People with more experience told me this would continue until I dealt with the new rooster. In an act of cowardice I offered him on Craig's List......no takers. So I tried a technique a friend told me about that takes advantage of how placid chickens become when hung upside down by their feet. I pounded a GIANT nail into the telephone pole at the back of my yard, hung a nylon rope noose from it, and when I took that rooster out of his sleeping box I hung him from the noose. The first rooster I killed, and the first time I tried to kill this rooster, I held them down on a stump. But aiming that machete to come down a foot or so from my own hand was unnerving and made me aim poorly. This time was easier though still very intense. As before, I thanked him and apologized for taking his life to nourish my own. The first swing of the machete apparently killed him but did not sever his head, and he briefly did that disturbing nerve reflex flapping that chickens do, even when decapitated...it took two more swings to sever the head. Again....a very intense experience for a man with the soul of a vegetarian (but whose body will not tolerate that diet). I was surprised JUST how much harder the feathers were to pull this time, but I had tried something I saw on line and let the carcass cool and hang for about an hour. Once I dipped him into very hot, near-boiling water, the feathers came off easily, except for the main flight feathers which are anchored to the arm bones in pits (the same pits have been found in the arm bones of many fossilized therapod dinosaurs!) And just like last time, I got urpy and dry heavy when I reached into the body cavity to pull out the still warm organs. Julia Childs would be happy.....I saved the liver....and gizard....and heart.
I again thanked him and apologized, sprinkled him with sea salt and garlic powder, and baked him at 375 for about an hour....very tasty. I was amazed how DARK the dark meat was....perhaps due to the parentage? (his Mom is a Barred Rock, "Mr. Rooster" is an Americauna). I gave a leg to my neighbor Theresa whose Mom raised and slaughtered chickens during the Depression to help feed her 12 children), then used the carcass to make a yummy rooster stew with barley, wheat berries, onions, spices and garden veggies.
I am hosting a Spring Firepit Potluck tonight, and as soon as I get home from errands I am killing a third new rooster that has beem challenging and upsetting "Mr. Rooster" and will serve him with a giant salad of arugula, Bonar rape, broccoli leaves, and daikon leaves and roots with a dressing I will buzz in the blender..... olive oil, balsamic vinegar, home brewed kombucha tea garlic leaves, sea salt, touch of brown sugar and black pepper. That rooster is still in the shed.
And guess what? As soon as I killed that last rooster, and with this new rooster in the shed, "Mr. Rooster" became his usual, uncannily quiet self! The last thing I want to be is an inconsiderate neighbor, or give backyard poultry raising a bad name, BUT....having a rooster is letting me hatch fertile eggs in my free incubator, knowing that a certain portion of the chicks will be male and thus FORCE me to "meet my meat". I think today's killing will be easier as this rooster is a mean little raptor, attacking other chickens and my flip flopped feet as I work in the yard. But I will still thank him, apologize, and kill and cook and serve and eat him with gratitude and reverence, knowing he had a great free range life in my spacious back yard. He looks VERY different....I suspect that a Buff Orpington was the Mom, and that "Mr. Rooster" was the Dad.
Now off to shop and clean and prep for the party at 7 PM...and kill and clean a rooster.
Happy Spring! John