A Hard Decision On The Prairie
Life throws us curveballs sometimes and we are forced to make hard decisions in our life; last week came time for us to make the first hard decision on the prairie. It wasn’t an easy decision, but it had to be done.
It all started a few weeks ago…
You see, a few weeks ago is when my roosters decided they were both going to hit puberty and their hormones were going to go crazy. One of my roosters ( Buddy ) was more gentle with the girls, but Luke ( my other rooster ) was vicious with them. He had never been aggressive with us; but he was beginning to be very aggressive to the hens. One of our hens in particular ( Ruth ) he would overly mate, to the point that her poor little head was bald and she had a bloody comb on her head because he was pecking her so much. She even had a broken leg from him crushing her ( he is HUGE ). Anyways, I kept putting it off, thinking (…and hoping ) that maybe he would get the hang off things and settle down.. but no.
I tried separating him from the girls, which worked great! But then came time to bring them all back again and that’s when he would go crazy on my one poor little girl Ruth. She is the sweetest out of all of my chickens.
The last day we separated him from the girls, my Mom happened to be at our house. The time came for us to bring Luke back with the girls.. and this was the last straw. My Mom and I were merrily in the kitchen, enjoying our task of peeling potatoes, when all of a sudden we hear a ruckus outside. I look out the window to see what was going on. Roman and Vitaliy were yelling and I see Luke attacking poor Ruth. Next thing I know, she is running for her dear life trying to escape from the crazy beast and then he gets her again. Then she gets away… and he gets her AGAIN. I ran outside screaming “ STOP LUKE!!”. I ran down my back deck stairs and out into the pasture. When I caught up to Luke, I put my foot out to stop him from getting her again. I picked poor Ruth up and Luke was just staring me down. I started yelling at him, “ Luke this is MY girl, not yours! Leave her alone!! You are such a bull! Go, GO, GO!!“.
Come to find out, Mr Hubs was outside working on his truck during the ordeal, and he said before I came outside, that Luke had gotten her like 10 times and poor Ruth was running to Mr. Hubs for help. To which Mr. Hubs didn’t help her by the way.. UGH!
By this point, I am so mad and my Mom was like, “ Wow, this is crazy “. I replied “ Yep, you didn’t know you were coming over to so much drama on the prairie today , did you”?
That was Luke’s last time at the prairie.
I had never intended on butchering my laying hens or roosters, but this was a situation where an intervention was needed and we chose to butcher him, and not sell him.
This is the point in the story that if you have a weak stomach about animal butchering, you might rather enjoy my cool kitchen remodel HERE instead. Oh, and all the photos are courtesy of my 7-year-old. He did pretty good!
Butchering time calls for my friend Kathryn.
She’s been doing this for years so I knew I wanted her help. I am still not fully ready to butcher a chicken 100% by myself yet. But I can say that I am getting a lot more accustomed to it and feel a lot more comfortable than the last couple of times I did it.
First of all, I truly believe in animals instincts and I think Luke knew something was about to go down. We could not catch him! Usually I can catch him and hold him, but not today.
So we shot him in the head.
Next we hung him upside down and cut his head off to let the blood finish draining.
Next came time for the hot water bath to help us de-feather him. He was a big Ol’ boy ( or so we thought ). He wouldn’t completely fit into the pot, so we had to pour some of the hot water on him and dunk him in the water from all different ways.
Note to self: make a feather plucker! We were pulling out feathers the old-fashioned way; with our hands. Luke had a ton of feathers. Viktoria was very into it and watched closely. She kept pointing and saying, “ Chicken, chicken! “.
Plucking, Plucking, Plucking
Next I removed the feet ( which I am going to save to add to my bone broth for extra gelatin ).
After that we took out the crop ( which is the a part where their food goes when they first eat ).
Then we flipped him around and started the cut to remove the innards.
Intestines, kidneys, heart, etc.
Viola, ALL DONE! Clean up time!
I can’t believe how scrawny he really was underneath all of his feather fluff. I told Mr. Hubs that’s he probably only good enough for a chicken nugget or two..haha. No, really though, his breast meat wasn’t very much, but his drumsticks were of normal store-bought chicken size. I plan to use him for a soup and bone broth.
On a happier note: look at what we found the next day after Luke was gone….
That’s right folks..this is our very first egg, laid by RACHEL!
I can definitely tell that the girls are less stressed now and can relax enough to start laying me some eggs!
* Special thanks to Kathryn for coming over on such a short notice; I can always count on your help!
* Special thanks to Roman for being the designated photographer. You did an awesome job and maybe photography can be one of your next hobbies!
Vitaliy’s birthday is today and when I asked him what kind of special dinner he wanted me to cook for his birthday, he replied, “ Luke soup!”.