Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Ding, Dong the Rooster's Dead

After they got into my garden again. The two male roosters (Dinner 1) is dead finally. I came home from one of those have to go into town trips and found the two roosters lazily scratching up my garden bed. Enough was enough! Even with the gate partially closed, I'll admit to fault on this one, they got in and feasted on the newly sprouted corn and cucumbers. What they didn't eat, they rolled on. This made the fourth time I've tried to grow these.

Of course, the hens followed them into the garden also. I couldn't kill the hens because they are our layers, and we use and sell the eggs. They were following the bad boy roosters. No, Whitie wasn't involved. He may have been before we got home, but he wasn't in the garden when I saw them.

Whitie and the hens
I've been threatening to kill the spare roosters since I've gotten here. So now I have. They had almost totally defeathered a couple of hen on their backs because they were so rough with them. I know from experience that a roughly handled hen will stop laying so something had to be done. Mel had put both roosters in an  empty rabbit cage for me after she fed the rabbits this morning. I later went out to kill them.Killing a rooster with only one hand is a challenge. The first one put up a devil of a fight. He caught me on the back of the hand with his spur. The second rooster flew the cage literally while I was breaking the neck of the first.

Herbie
After the first one was going through his death throes, I proceeded to catch the second one. I caught him by the tail feathers. I held him upside down and hung on for dear life. The over a year old rooster squawked up a blue streak and flapped his wings like mad. All the ruckus brought Whitie running to see what was happening to one of his flock. It also brought Herbie, the dog. Being a terrier, he got excited and tried to nip at the rooster's head. Of course, Whitie didn't see me as a threat to his brother, I'm bigger. Whitie started ruffling his feathers and a pecking at the snapping dog.

Herbie was so excited by this new game that he ignored the pecking rooster. I'm holding this bird which is trying to get loose and beating me with his wings, and try to position my body between the yapping Herbie and Whitie. Mel, who was inside, came running out to see what the commotion was. Mel is a tender-hearted soul which is why these birds survived so long. She'd raised them from eggs, played and cared for them daily until  today. I had to kill, pluck, and butcher them. She did hang the dead rooster by its feet in the fence.

I put the bird into the rabbit hutch, broke, and cut his neck. Blood was flowing freely from the cuts. I partially closed the hutch door to let him die in peace. I gathered the eggs (another 17 of them) from the last two days and went into the house. I had to put the eggs into the refrigerator and I badly needed a drink. Although cooler after the rain storms the last two days, it's still in the low 80s.

The pot of water was ready so I went outside to deal with the second stage of butchering chickens (beheading and plucking). I went to the rabbit hutch to hang the second rooster and found it empty. We had another blasted zombie rooster on the loose again. (Watch here for the first one) Darn!!!! I broke the news to Mel as she carried the vanning pot full of hot water to the plucking station, a table on the deck off the back patio.
"You're kidding me?" She responded.
I shook my head. I broke its neck. I know and heard it snap. The head was at a cockeyed, and very unnatural angle when I put him in the hutch. But low and be hold, there he was out in the yard with the other chickens. His head still had a strange tilt, but he was up and walking around. Chock up one for the rooster. He gets to live for another day.

The first rooster was still hanging upside down on the fence. I laid him on a board after searching fruitlessly for the hatchet Mel swore was in the barn. I took my knife to behead the chicken. I managed to cut all but the last two inches of skin. Did I mention the bird was over a year old? Really tough skin. Mel had to cut the rest of the head off. She brought the dead bird to me. I half expected in to start flapping its wings again, but it didn't. I dunked him into the hot water and then began plucking the feathers. It took several dunkings  to release all the feathers. By this time, rigor mortise had set in. The legs wouldn't go into the pot. I picked the rooster up by its headless neck and tried to soak the legs that way. No luck. The water just wasn't deep enough. I started to think some unkind words as I put the chicken down and went inside to get another knife. I cut off the feet and dunked the legs into the water.

Cuddles
By this time I'm pretty exhausted. It's been over five years since I've done this and I had two hands. I picked up the bird and placed it into the kitchen sink. I decided that when we build the new homestead, I'm putting in a butchering station with running water outside. All this climbing up and down slick, wooden steps is for the birds. Literally! Cuddles can do it faster  and much safer than I can.

I put Dinner 1, now naked, into the sink and ran cold water over the carcass. I sharpened my Ulu knife knowing this job was going to be a work out. I wasn't proved wrong. I was practically using full downward force to even put a slice into the skin. After 30 minutes I managed to gut him and get him ready for his salty ice bath It's a job in a half trying to gut a chicken with your only functioning hand up inside the bird. I had to use the inside edge of the sink to have enough force to pull the innards out. In the process I broke the liver into three pieces. That's okay, it, the gizzard and heart are destined for the dogs anyhow. I can't eat organ meats because of the higher cholesterol count and Mel doesn't like them. Just as soon as I get enough of them for dog food.

I've told Mel when I get ready to kill the zombie rooster aka Dinner 2, I'm going to buy a pair of lopper for the head and feet before I start to butcher him. I'm not going to take her word for it that she has them. She thought I was talking about standard hedge clippers. All of my butchering equip will be sharpened by the grinder before the fact not after. Those little knife sharpeners just doesn't put a sharp enough edge on them. They do okay for kitchen duty but not butchering.

I may be nice, but I'm practical too. The right tool for the right job. This ain't my first time as a butcher. If an animal is causing problem or is born for a purpose, it needs to fulfill the need. Whether it is a chicken or a cute bunny. Everything on our homestead has to have a purpose even me. If I have to be the Grim Reaper, then so be it. I've already put Mel on notice. After today, she will help with the processing of any future chickens or any other animal bred for meat. I'm not going to do it all by myself again. It's not pain or guilt I feel, but the need to make Mel into a homesteader. It's time to accept the fact that I: 1) am not physically able, and 2) I'm not always going to be available to be the Grand Executioner. She must gain the basic understanding of this skill.

Well, that's my adventure at the Cockeyed Homestead for this week Y'all be blessed.

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