Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sending Off the Roos

I'm all for the new, localvore, non-industrialized, back-to-the-land type of farming. Heck I AM it-- at least on a very small scale.

But it is what it is, which is to say: not pretty.

Farming (even vegetable farming) is, at its most basic level, about manipulating natural things so that they serve you. In other words "using" them. It is not really a quaint, idyllic pastime. It is messy and brutal, beautiful and hard and very, very real.

I have to re-learn this every few months here on Maggie's farm. Yesterday was a case in point.

Y'see, we had five too many roosters. They'd been part of the batches of hen-brooded chicks that blessed last spring. The ones that survived the fox attacks and hawk swoops. And they were now grown up enough to bully each other and stress out the hens and generally act like the feathered bags of testosterone they were.

We knew we should eat them. But Dan wasn't up for it after the last time, and I didn't want to try it alone. (Have I mentioned we are wimpy farmers)

So I put an add in Craigslist knowing that what I was too soft to manage, some other person could do with a quick twist of the neck.

Then I chased down those five roosters, feeling all the while so sad and sorry as only an absolute farming wimp can. In the crate, the cocky birds continued their squabbles, the weaker ones, crouching in the corners, the toughies crowing victory. "Soccerball," who'd turned out to be a beautiful feisty rooster was in there, and the soft ginormous "Mongo Rooster."

(LESSON LEARNED: Never name your rooster chicks.)

And then the guy came to get them and I felt..... awful.

I know. It makes no sense. They were making themselves (and the hens) miserable. They'd kicked our formerly-dominant rooster, Jaguar, out of the coop, they were all fight and fury, but I felt so responsible for their fate. I hoped the guy who bought them would give them a decent life/death, but I had no more control over that.

But I sold them. For $2 each. And washed my hands.

And then I moped about the way farming is not the bucolic wonderland that is sometimes portrayed.


Amateur Yankee said...

I completely sympathize. Our chicks weren't sexed for whatever reason, and we ended up with extra roosters, too - and they were THUGGISH. Completely beating up on the others - I couldn't stand it, though I know they were just being roosters. We found someone to take them off our hands, too - and now we just have one ineffective silkie rooster who crows at you after you walk away. :)

Karen said...

Oh boy, I'm a wimpy farmer too. And hubby is even wimpier. I sold our one extra rooster on Craigslist too.
Got $10 for him though:) Apparently he is now named Duke (he only got called 'the young rooster' around here) and is about to become a dad.

Perri said...

We've had some wonderful roosters here too-- especially "Jaguar" our current one-- but you're right, Yankee, they ARE totally thuggish when young and roaming in groups. (I work with teenage boys so I am somewhat familiar with this phenomenon.)

Karen, last year, we sold one of our extra roos, "Stellar", for breading he was a huge docile brahma mix. Our hens hated him. But the guy who bought him did well with him.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

i know straight up that i would not be able to butcher my own animals. I get way too attached to things (even inanimate objects) so killing something would not be OK with me. I don't even like killing houseflies.
But, that said, one day i'll have a farm like you do and i'll have to cross that bridge too.

Alina said...

Luckily (for me) I am not a wimpy farmer, though that may not make me popular, here. I like taking charge of my own food-chain rather than heading to that other chain--the grocery store (except, of course, when I want to write at night). ;)

I think we two have a lot in common, though, save our ability to process extra roos! :) Glad you followed my blog, so I could find yours!

Perri said...

I Agree! Not too many fiction writing farmers out there.

I wish was less wimpy about it. I never buy chicken (Nowhere to get the humanely treated kind) so mostly we eat lamb (ours) and beef (from a grass fed farm nearby.)

Lisa Gail Green said...

OMG that's so sad! We had a rooster adopt us once (yes in a suburb of LA). The kids named him Fat Boy, and the neighbors started calling about our rooster waking them up. To which I said, "He's NOT MY rooster!" He left us after four days, but we still talk about him.

Perri said...

Fat Boy! I love that! Also, Call me crazy, but I sort of like the crowing.

Rooster names are fun! We've had Archie, Batman, Batmandu, Stellar, Soccerball and now, Jaguar, Blackbeard and The Black Bottomed Rooster (a reference to the vulture in "Horton Hears a Who")

I just found out from a friend at the livestock auction that roosters fetch $15 each, so this is probably where mine went. (Sold them for $2 each which is about how things go around here)

Perri said...

Oh, and I guess I should have said "Never name your roosters until you are definite about keeping them. :)