Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What's Up Chicken Butt

Warning: If you are too sensitive to read about a dead animal, then you better take this opportunity to move along. Today's post is all about chickens, dead chickens, and chicken dinner.
Because I am an ass, I "lost" an entire flock of chickens last summer (around 20), besides two survivors I gave the names of Chicken and Soup.
So, all winter, Chicken and Soup hunkered down in the hen house with no sunshine, heat or friends and my family ate store bought eggs.
Of course, we had to make things right so Project Do It Again Hen, was conceived.
We ordered 25, non-sexed (strait run) rainbow assortment of chicks from Strombergs. They sent us a double batch. Of course, we did not think to count them until they were in the tub on the back porch. But, by then, it was impossible to get an accurate head count. They were too busy, busy.
The goal was to butcher the roosters, keep the hens for eggs, and then order more hens-only, when we felt confident we knew what we had gotten ourselves into.
Of course, we had to make room for the extra 25 chicks. Of course, that means the cost to feed them would be double.
And so, for the past 14 weeks we have fed and cared for a pretty ragady looking bunch of half-grown chickens. About two weeks in, their food cost went up $5 per 50 pound bag. Because we only have two adult chickens, the survivors, I only harvest 2 eggs per day.
I have taken to calling them my chicken-pigs.
My man and I, have spent considerable hours trying to figure out which ones are roosters, and get a real head count on the hens.
To me, when output does not equal input, the creature can be considered a pet. True, when you raise an animal from its defenseless infant stage, it is hard not to get attached, or feel like they have a personality. However, the object of the project was never forgotten. And, so, nobody has a name.
This past week, some of the roosters have started to crow. And, some of the white ones are larger than our two adult/survivors.
Also, they have gotten to be a handful of fun to care for.  A few days ago the door was left ajar (it happens!) and they ALL escaped their yard.
They were scattered hither and yon. I could tell my man could only see dollar bill signs running helter skelter all over. I'm sure a hawk and an owl were circling overhead.
No real harm done, (so I think) and all the chickens were returned to the yard (who knows we never can get a real head count on them).
Except, now these chicken pigs know about all these yummy bugs in the grass. And, so on Saturday, I notice a couple have escaped a small hole in the fence and are free-ranging. I open the chicken yard to shoosh them in, and out come the rest of the 40-something chicken-pigs.
I ran around stupid for about an hour befrore I gave up and went inside for nap time and to plan and cook dinner. Perhaps, the ones left out, will get bored and want to go in later...But, after nap, now here come the boys with a chicken, who is obviously not upset by being held by them.
Good gosh, what has happened? Well, something got after them while I was inside. I find a pile of feathers and at least two wet, slobbery, stunned, chickens begging to get back in the hen house. Toby was with me, so he was not the culprit. Who knows it could be a ranch dog or a coyote.
I spend the rest of the evening chasing after three dummies, through the tall grass and rose bushes.  Once returned to the coop I counted them to no avail. What is the point? I know Soup is gone. If she was not somebody's dinner, she is never coming back because it is too dangerous! Now we have but one egg layer.
So I finally think it is time to turn the chicken-pig-pets into chicken dinner and reduce the the chicken-food bill and my time spent chicky-chasing. 
The only problem we have is that my man has not seen a chicken butchered since sixth grade, and I cannot say that I ever remember participating in such.
No matter, we decide to do a practice run with two fattys before we go hell bent for Sunday on the rest of the roosters. 
Because neither one of us can remember "the first time" we butchered, we figure we always did. We think this is how our kids will be, if we make no effort to exclude them from the work at hand. 
They were interested for a few minutes but never made any indication they cared about what was going on.
We do what we have to do, and it turns out I am better at this butchering chickens stuff than my man (okay, I just like it done my way).
I end up taking over. I end up with my hand up a chicken butt. 
Does it look as good as the chicken you get at the store? I think it looks yummy in my tummy. Needless to say, we are having chicken for dinner tonight. Thanks for reading, HjB.
June 13, 2011

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