Let me introduce you to June, my newest new chicken. June is still very shy, and very terrified of mean old Mrs. Hall, who has some very old fashioned ideas about the the pecking order. So far, when the coop door is closed, June spends most of her time hiding on the perch, or cowering behind the water bucket.
June dresses in all black, except for her bright red face and comb. Despite the fact that she doesn't seem to mind standing in chicken poo, I think she is very elegant, and she is exceptionally soft when cuddled.
Why do I have a new chicken? What happened to Rosie and Egret? Are you sure you want to know?
Well, I started to have my suspicions about Rosie and Egret early on, but it wasn't until right after I wrote this post, that my suspicions turned grave. Turns out they were both roosters! This is not the first time this has happened. Mrs. Hall and I don't ever talk about the first Helen, since
she he was only with us for a few months before I did an after dark switcheroo, and replaced the original Helen with a confirmed female Helen, but we both remember.
This time, I didn't try to trick myself into believing that I could return Rosie and Egret to the farm and they would live out their lives in rooster bliss like Mrs. Hall and I imagine with Helen number one. In reality, only a few roosters get to live beyond frying age on any farm, and mom already had surplus roosters. Surplus roosters are a problem because they fight each other, harass the hens, crow, and don't lay any eggs. Mom already had three extras, and Rosie and Egret would have been number four and five. It was time for me to test myself by butchering animals that I cared for and named.
We assembled our gear and our team, and did the deed near the edge of the forest at my parents house. Jamie manned the killing cones, Brandon and Shanna did the plucking, and Shanna and I eviscerated. We set up our gear, did the work, and cleaned up the mess in just a few hours, and had five nice looking chickens for the freezer. Maybe Rosie, Egret, and I never hit it off that well after all, because I didn't have any problems preparing them for the freezer.
When mom was trying to select which of her roosters to cage up so we could butcher them, I recommended she pick mean ones, ugly ones, or tasty looking ones. I didn't even consider that Curly, the poor ugly rooster I hatched in the incubator would be on the list of candidates! He's been the king of his flock for quite a while now, and was doing a pretty good job too. Unfortunately, his ugly comb and bent toes meant he was number one on the ugly rooster list, and because mom's flock has lots of black and white hens, she decided to select the black and white roosters for culling and keep two pretty multicolored ones, hoping that future chicks will take after their fathers. I can't deny that it was upsetting to see Curly in the killing cone. He was the most vocal about being handled too, which is probably normal when you have an older rooster who's used to being the boss. But, as bad as I felt for Curly, I was glad to know that I can butcher an animal I know. If I had found that I couldn't do it, then I would have to rethink some of my plans for raising my own meat, or at least rethink naming them and anthropomorphizing them like I do.
So I now have pretty, feminine June, and rough and rowdy Rosie and Egret are no more. Now that I know for sure that they were roosters (I confirmed this by seeing their tiny testicles, which are inside the body cavity, against the spine), I have some explanation for why Mrs. Hall was so mean to them, and why they weren't very cuddly and were always misbehaving. Mrs. Hall keeps June in her place too, but not with such ferocity.
This rooster mix up let me know more about myself too. I can be on a first name basis with my chicken friends, and still put them in the freezer when the time comes. Scary, huh? I wonder if someone should warn my kittens?!