Sunday, April 20, 2008

Oh Deer, That's Good!

We've got the Chicken Coop DeVille building pretty much complete - minus trim, chicken door, nest boxes, roost, and fenced in chicken yard. We still have a little work ahead of us, but the lion's share of it is finished. You can check out the pictures on the website.

Yesterday, after we finished working on the coop, we spent some time walking around the yard and enjoying the wildflowers and trees that are just starting to bloom here. I found a crab apple tree in bloom. Most of the blooms are up high, but I found one at just the right height for me to get this picture:


It was such a pretty little bloom, and I spent quite some time studying it. Which is a good thing, because this morning I looked out the back window and saw this:


Look at how calm and sweet those girls look. Look at how.... wait. What is that one on the right, in the back doing? Why is her head so far up? It looks like she's.....


Ugh. Yep - she's eating a crab apple bloom. The one, single crab apple bloom I could actually reach and see. We went out a few minutes ago, and this is what's left:


*Sigh*. It's hard to be too upset about that though. It's a wild crab apple and I'm sure that deer was quite happy to find it. Living with nature means accepting nature as it is. We chose this exact location for many reasons, and one of those reasons was the amazing range of wildlife that calls this homestead their home. We're learning to live with the wildlife. We'll do what we can to protect the food we raise for ourselves, and part of that includes planting extra food for those inevitable times when one of those furry little buggers sneaks past our efforts and finds the bonanza of tasty vegetables. We'll all get this figured out eventually.

Several of you have asked if I will be willing/able to butcher any of these chickens for our meals. Let me first say, I am getting these chickens to be pets, and I am extremely hopeful that they will show their appreciation of being pampered by rewarding us with eggs. Having said that, I also understand the basics and necessity of practicing good flock management. While my primary purpose is having these chickens as pets, we really can't afford to feed a bunch of pets that serve no purpose at all. Mean chickens/roosters should be culled. Non-layers should be culled. You will notice that I said "should".

A couple of you asked if I have ever killed a chicken in the past, and I said no. But the truth is that I have killed a chicken before. It was such a traumatic experience, I think I temporarily blocked it from my memory.

Many years ago, my parents had a rooster named Roy. Roy was the meanest rooster on the face of the planet. I hated that rooster - and that rooster hated me. In all fairness, everyone hated that rooster - and that rooster hated everyone. My parents kept him in a large fenced in area and, while it kept him from viciously attacking anything that moved in the yard, it did not keep him from trying to get at us through the fence. Well, one day Roy managed to get out of the fence. And my parents' little terrier, RJ, finally got back at Roy for all the tormenting through the fence. My mother and I were the only two at the house that day, and when we heard all the commotion, we ran into the back yard to find that RJ had all but killed Roy. Roy was a bloody mess of rooster feathers. He could not get up and he was certainly dying. My mother said "We've got to kill him and put him out of his misery." I completely agreed. "How are you going to do it?", I asked. The look in her eyes explained everything. By "we", my mother meant "me". She told me where to find an axe, and then stood behind me as I sent Roy Rooster off to his certain reign in Rooster Hades.

As much as I hated Roy, I hated killing him even more. It was very unpleasant, to say the least. I will spare you the gory details, but if you've ever chopped off the head of a chicken, you understand just how unpleasant that experience can be. There is a fair amount of flopping and kicking involved - and all of it occurs AFTER the head is detached from the body.

So CAN I kill a chicken? The answer is apparently "yes". WILL I kill any of these chickens? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

A friend told Bernie we could make some great chicken noodle soup out of these chickens. Bernie told him he didn't know if I would be able to kill any of these chickens. His friend said "Well, I guess she better learn how to make the noodles then."

Bee Free,

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