I LOVE THIS LIFE. I love the millions of reasons to be outside. I love the feeling of accomplishment when I plant a seed and something (no matter how small) grows. I love gathering the eggs, no matter how few I get each day. I love being around the animals and caring for them. I love watching them grow. I never get tired of it. I mean, sure I get tired, but never of the duties of the farm/homestead. Because each duty brings me true joy and happiness.
But there’s one duty that I don’t love. Not even a little bit. And that duty is culling animals.
It’s just so hard.
I haven’t yet purchased animals for the purpose of processing for meat. That is coming very soon, hopefully, but not yet. Therefore, the animals that I have on the farm have been purchased to perform a task, provide a service, or be a source of ongoing food supply.
But, in my ignorance and new-farmer status, I made a mistake on my first pullet purchase and I am still paying for it—even a year in. I made the mistake of buying my first pullets at the large, nation wide box-store style feed store. You know the one. I’m not here to knock them. They have things they are good at. Then there’s things they aren’t….selling baby chicks is NOT their strong point. Here’s a little note to those who may be a little behind me on the farming gig (which will be pretty much no one because I’m still so green….): Don’t buy your livestock from a place that also sells lollipops and lipgloss. It’s not going to end well.
So, what was the big deal? A chick is a chick, right? Nope!
They labeled the pullets and cockerels separately and had them in different tubs. Great! I’ll take 6 pullets! They cost more, you say? That’s fine!! I am not ready for roosters! I will pay a premium for ladies only! All the stuff I will need for 6 chicks will be $200? Ok! Sounds reasonable to me! Thanks! I’ll see you next time I need some feed!! Thanks, big box store feed store worker who is probably still in high school and knows even LESS about chickens than I do!!! This is going to work out perfectly!!!
And, off we (yes, I took the entire family on this adventure) went with our 6 chicks, ready for a lifetime of fresh eggs and happiness.
But, when you get your first set of chickens, you never have really noticed how slow 20 weeks goes by (except when you were pregnant, and that has been a while so you’ve forgotten by now). So, I fed those little, messy birds everyday. I checked to be sure I did it all by the book and not lose one of them. I mean, I was super serious about caring for these little birds! They are the beginning of my farm, and I loved them all.
And then things start to change.
Someone starts growing a comb a lot bigger and faster than the others. Then I notice another larger than normal comb. Maybe it’s just the breed, I tell myself. Maybe they are just eating more, I say in a feigned reassuring, muttering-to-myself kind of voice. And then they started cock-a-doodle-doing. Not one. Not two. But three. How in the world!?! How in the world did I-the beginning, novice, knows nothing about nothing, just wanting eggs to cook for breakfast farmer-end up with THREE roosters!?!?!
Yep! Three out of six were roos. And, remember the part where I paid MORE for hens?? Let’s not forget that part! So, I’ve been doing all this cleaning and feeding and caring for half the eggs I was expecting. UGH. Thanks, big box style feed store. I owe you one. Or three….
But that isn’t near the worst part. No. Not by a long shot. The worst comes later. When they get older and you realize you cannot possibly have flock of 6 birds and 3 of them be roosters. So, I took the one that was the meanest and….listed him on craigslist.
Are you laughing yet? Because, if you aren’t, you need to go back and read that again. I thought craigslist was going to fix my problem…….
But really!!! I didn’t get into this chicken gig for meat! I only wanted eggs!
But when craigslist garners only one response, and IT is from a guy wanting to meet you at the tattoo parlor to trade out money for bird, you sort of realize your options are pretty limited.
And I was not about to meet some scary man from craigslist at a tattoo parlor.
So, I took mr. rooster and butchered him. All by myself. With my children watching and holding the phone so I could watch the you-tube video of the woman going through step by step of how to butcher your own chicken. (that is a very well done video, by the way, and I appreciate you-tube not taking it down for graphic violence because I really REALLY needed that video!!)
So, I let the other two live because they were not mean and I didn’t want to deal with that again at the time. And they are still here.
But not for long.
Because for the second time in as many weeks, the barred rock rooster has come up behind me—ninja style—and spurred the snot out of me. Now, I am not sure how many of you have experience that lovely piece of work called a “rooster attack”, but think of it more like a sneak-attack from behind with a low swinging 2x4 being knocked across your leg and foot area at the force similar in strength to a tornado. And the first time wasn’t so bad because I had my boots on. But, the second time it was warm outside. And I was wearing my chacos.
Yeah. It hurt major bad. And it made me REALLY angry. Because when you get ninja’d in the bare foot by a stupid chicken you have done nothing but care for and feed….it’s pretty maddening…..
But, why did it take an attack from him for me to know that I really HAVE to cull him?? I have known deep down for a while that is what I needed to do. But I hate it. I mean, he was supposed to be a she. And she was supposed to be an egg layer. And I got attached. And, I didn’t realize all I was getting into when I got those little chicks that day. But, I’m committed to being a farmer. And farmers have to do hard things sometimes.
And, come Saturday, I’m gonna have to be a real-life, grown up farmer.
HELLO & WELCOME!!