For Those Who Might Mourn-The Death of House Chicken
Tonight is a blue moon- a night touched with a singular magic. It is fitting then that we say good-bye to a member of the Seedpod Farm menagerie. You might recall that House Chicken had a unique start in life. He was one of the red broilers we raised this past Spring that for some reason, didn't quite mesh with the rest of the crew. Two sessions of first aid in the house lead to his moniker....and the love of the Seedpod children.
I had mentioned that one of the lessons that can be difficult for kids- be they on the farm or not, is the transient nature of our time here on Earth. When we had butchered the other red broilers last month I had lobbied hard to include House Chicken among their number. He had rallied and flourished being raised with Isaac's little flock of New Hampshire Reds. He greeted us each morning and puffed up for visitors. He also threw the feeders over every morning, ate the majority of the food....and bullied the other birds. He was bigger after all- grew more quickly, which meant more hormones. Isaac's other rooster, Sonny, simply could not compete.
The kids were slower to come around to my way of thinking. But, as we saw what was happening with the other birds, even Ike had become increasingly frustrated with House Chicken's behaviour which was limiting his time with his favorite hen, Pickles. For the last two weeks, he had not been able to spend time with the hens in the enclosure due to House Chicken's haughty ways. We had worked with him of course- boundary stick in hand.....spray bottle at the ready- but the truth is- this chicken was made for free ranging in the pasture, not hanging out with a docile backyard flock.
When I had relented last month and spared his life when the other red broilers went the way of the butcher- I knew it was a temporary thing. I could see the writing on the wall after all although one hopes that you might be wrong. I found myself thinking- Those hackles are really pretty- they'd make great flyfishing flies.......I bet he'll dress out at twice the size of the other broilers.....roasted with some Seedpod herbs- delicious......that'd make a good blog post! My thinking changed from recipes and fishing to murderous intent on Friday when Ellie came into the house screaming.
She had been near the enclosure feeding crackers to the backyard flock through the fence. House Chicken had flown out of the enclosure- something he'd never done before and in what was an inevitable move, went after Ellie- attempting to rake her with his spurs. Ellie is about the same size as Walter and Rudy- our other roosters. If they puff up and do the tango step to "move" her, she knows how to position herself, use her boundary tool, remain calm assertive- and make them move. She's a confident chicken handler. This was different. House Chicken waited until she wasn't looking and attacked- no warning, no puffing up, just attacked. She's fine by the way- just a red scratch on her back....but it could have been much worse. Effectively, House Chicken had declared war- and sealed his fate.
Adam and I just celebrated our 10th anniversary. We had received some lovely knives for our wedding a decade ago- and they have never been properly sharpened. After asking (for years) for a fancy knife sharpener for Christmas, I finally got a ProChef one in December- but it had remained in the box........ until tonight.
We put the kids to bed and Adam went to the closet and set up the knife sharpener.
Under the light of the blue moon (and Farm Adam's head lamp), House Chicken met his fate. He's in the freezer- and he'll be delicious. His hackles will make great flies.
For those who would mourn House Chicken, I give a nod to you.....but I won't share in your grief. Had I had a gun the moment Ellie came in screaming- he would have met a less proper and very messy end. He lived a good life here and also chose the moment of his demise. I'll have no problem making "Tandoori House Chicken" this next week!