Friday, November 5, 2010

Chicken curry and eggs



First, an update on the trip to the slaughterhouse. By the time we went back to Island Farms on Tuesday afternoon to pick up the three gutted and plucked roosters, we were doing pretty well at feeling philosophical, if not actually positive, about the whole thing. But when we got home and opened up the cardboard box and saw three scrawny, long-legged carcasses we felt awful all over again. The boys have gone into the freezer for the time being - maybe they'll make a good chicken curry dish some day.

Big Boy, the remaining rooster from the original flock we raised from day-old chicks, is now living on borrowed time. We had planned to keep him for breeding, since he was the biggest, but he's turning into something of a pain. We have to keep him separate from Pee Wee, the enormous rooster that came with Ev's flock, since the two of them have hated each other on sight. This poses some logistical issues. But the real problem is how brutal he is with the hens when he tries to mate with them. As a result, even the hens that have been raised with him run away when he gets close, and are noticeable jumpy and stressed when they are in the same enclosure with him. The only bird that gets along with him is Hector, our sweet boy Hector. In contrast, Pee Wee gets the mating business over with much more smoothly, and all hens from both flocks are very comfortable with him. We called Ev and ran it by her, and she said very emphatically that Big Boy shouldn't be used for breeding, because that roughness is not something you want to breed for.

So we put Big Boy in the orchard, where he could be away from the other birds but still be able to graze on all the grass and bugs - which led to a renaming of the orchard from "The Cloister" to "Death Row." Kim is still weighing the options, but it looks like Big Boy may be joining his brothers in our freezer...

On a much happier note, our girls have been laying up a storm. All nine of the pullets we got from Ev are now laying, and although we were told to expect about six eggs a day from them, we've had eight on a few occasions. The four nest boxes are so often full...


...that Kim has now added a second tier of three boxes beneath the existing ones. And it seems as if the two Australorp pullets and our original five Buff Orpingtons might start laying soon: they are showing a lot of interest in the nest boxes, and are practicing their "I'm laying an egg" chicken song.

8 comments:

Paula said...

Sorry about the boys- glad about the girls. I would have to agree with Ev that badly behaved boys do not get rewarded for this behavior.

The girls looks cute in their next boxes. What are you going to do with all those eggs?

Miriam said...

Well, we sold our second dozen today, and have one more in the fridge looking for a home. So we're scouting around, offering eggs to friends and colleagues at band practice, choir rehearsal, Tai Chi sessions and anywhere else we can think of! Plus we're eating more than we had been. So far we haven't been buried!

Wonky Girl said...

We purchased two frozen birds from a 4-H group many years ago. The meat was very good, so much more tasty than store bought. That said, I could not eat one I raised. Maybe you could gift the frozen birds to special friends.

We gave away our big roosters. Both were brutal to the hens and attacked us. Now we have Silky roosters, they are sweet to the hens and us.

Flartus said...

When it was time to replace our old rooster, Sam, we simply let him wander by himself outside the coop and run. I can't say it was a happy life for him, but he did save the entire flock from a pair of feral dogs. It was a tale told in feathers--he was never the same afterwards, but he'd earned his podgy retirement, puttering around the estate 'til he died.

Natalie said...

I love that song!
You are brave farmers. I am still mustering the courage to give our roosters the boot. They are way long passed the cute stage.

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

I'm glad you're getting some great advice on 'parenting' your chickens! I had no idea that like people they wouldn't all just get along!

I also am quite sure I would feel the same way as you about eating something I've raised, which is why I like the idea of "gifting" them--I'd love a gift of your eggs though! :-))

Toni aka irishlas said...

Since we've had the hens we've become quite creative with egg dishes. Isn't it funny how your egg consumption increases??

We don't have roosters, so, we'll never have to deal with the issues you are having. I have seen on several other blogs when the over zealous rooster gets a little rough they put chicken saddles on the hens to help protect them. Maybe that's something you could use to help protect the hens. Just a thought..

I miss doing Tai Chi. I know I can do it on my own, but, there's something peaceful about a group of people moving so gracefully together and in the same "zone" that is relaxing to me.

Miriam said...

Yes, chicken saddles...now there's an interesting concept! We have seen them at chicken swaps. They look like little capes that fit over the hen's back, with elastic that goes under the wings to hold them in place, and the ones we saw were sewn out of colourful cotton printed with little chicken designs. Ha! My first thought was that they were the chicken version of silly dog outfits you see everywhere, and took them as a sign of the further degeneration of civilization. But then the woman selling them kindly told me of their practical purpose...

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