Thursday, October 21, 2010

Life and Death at Cluckingham

Did I say I love chicken farming? If I said that, I meant it, mostly. There are however parts that are quite distasteful. There's all the poop (not that I ever tried to taste any, don't misunderstand), and the smell, which is all I ever heard about when I brought up the subject of chickens. None of that really bothers me. I hang the herbs I grow in the palace, we use a fan all summer, and I scrap all the poo off and turn it over every week. I actually like that job a lot. So it doesn't get too stinky. I love that my gramerlings will know how all this works. I love sharing eggs with people and never ever having to run to the store for some. I like the difference in the plants grown in that brown gold I haul out of the palace. But it's the end of animal life that is very distressful to me.
Pap's girl, pictured above, is the second chicken to develop a problem of some sort. With the first chicken, Jetta, also an Andelusian, the problem she developed was an eighty pound white fur ball puppy named Arwen, who mistook her for his squeak toy. Arwen has since chosen to get treats and toys from all the neighbors in a 2 mile radius and no longer bothers chickens, unless they try to eat her food. She will chase them and pull out a tail feather as a warning. I digress.
She is called Pap's Girl, because she has always only had eyes for Handy Man Pappy. What you see in the picture is typical behavior since we got her. She always comes right to him, coos and clucks softly and wants him to hold her. Though we held and messed with those chickie girl princesses all the time, she's the one and only one to do this, and it's only Handy Man.
Well, she's ailing. She obviously has nothing that can be found on anything I've searched because it's gone on for a month and everything I read said she'd be long gone already.
She stopped laying eggs in the spring. Then she started walking a little off balance, then so off balance she couldn't walk. We brought her in and nursed her and in a couple of days she was fine. We let her out, same thing again.
So, she's been in a cage by herself for two weeks and doesn't try to move that we can tell.
Why the cage? Well, in addition to just her being sick in general, nature will take its course if we left her with the girls. If she fell and wasn't able to move, they would peck her to death. Ugly barnyard truth. Also, if a predator happened by and Arwen was busy being stuffed with snacks at the neighbors, she wouldn't be able to flee and there would be no fierce dog to protect her.
So, the conundrum- I didn't name or take as a pet the recent rooster of Sunday's post, yet I cannot leave Pap's Girl to a getting pecked to death fate. This is the part of farming I don't like.

Though I must say, on the other hand, watching my sons and grandson with that rooster situation was most endearing and entertaining.
1st Lt. had read and copied in color the exact steps you take to make the rooster's end as painless and non-traumatic as possible. Bean wanted to experience the whole process, which all of us wondered about. Drummer Boy wanted to help.
No matter how old I grow, I can say for a certainty that my greatest joy in life still is watching my children enjoy themselves. So, hope I don't disappoint you too much when I say I had to suspend the reality of the rooster, and laugh at the antics of my grown children.
In order to carry out this near painless demise, one has to catch the rooster.
My sweet boys make plans on the fly- all the time. Plans that include my house, or dinner or an evening, or Handy Man's tools or presence, without filling us in on all the details. I was not warned of the BIG EVENT until I'd let the girl's out of the palace for the day.
Two grown men running round and round my house and chicken yard chasing a rooster was hysterical. I am so sad I didn't video it. Then their cry of triumph when they captured the two pound critter, amusing to say the least.
I had asked Handy Man to please take care of business way away from the palace, so it didn't attract any unwanted guests.
I waited at the bottom of the hill with Bugg and Buttercup for a bit, then walked them up the the site. It hadn't been long and it was all over and all boys were beaming at the success of the plan.
Last night, their efforts fed them.
If we're going to eat chicken, as most of us do, then I think you oughta know how it all works. I don't want my gramerlings thinking that fluffy white all breast of chicken finger just falls from the sky. I want them to ask why it's a bit tougher and not so much white meat when it comes from Gramerly's. I want them to ask how those chickens are raised.
So, all that to say, Pap's Girl and Sunday Dinner, were much enjoyed and well cared for in the time we've had them. And we'll stick with Pap's Girl, as long as she wants to hang around.

No comments:

Post a Comment