Friday, October 15, 2010
Chicken Soup (Part 1)
Well, I guess we just got a little more serious about the whole 'homesteading' thing...
Our Speckled Sussex hens were not quite living up to our expectations as egg layers. They were an impulse purchase at the local hay and grain. I cannot be purchasing chicks on impulse. This is a 6,000 square foot urban lot with a 1200 square foot house on it. There is not a whole lot of room for livestock. Chickens live a long time and only lay eggs regularly for a few short years.
I was in the process of introducing two new young hens to the flock which was not going well. First of all, they were supposed to be an Americauna, a Wellsummer, and a Barnevelder. But, noooo..... We ended up with an Americauna (fine), an Aracauna, and another damn Speckled Sussex! To make things worse the Speckled Sussex turned out to be a rooster. Roosters are not allowed within city limits. What a mess. Another impulse purchase gone awry. The rooster went to live on a ranch outside of town.
So, I began to introduce the two young hens to the resident flock after carefully raising them in an separate enclosure within the main enclosure. Everybody was happy. Then, the second the smaller enclosure was removed all hell broke loose. The resident Americauna went for blood and the Sussex joined in. The terrified new hens decided to live in the tree above the coop and have nothing to do with the older hens since they want to KILL them.
All I wanted were some nice little hens to lay some nice big eggs on a regular basis for the kids to collect and for us to eat. But, no. It had to be blood and mayhem and chickens living in the trees!
So, that was it. I decided the Sussex had to go. I'm still attached to my first ever chicken (the older Americauna) so I gave her a break (for now). Luckily she went into a full molt and was too weak to continue to try to KILL the new hens.
I got out my copy of THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COUNTRY LIVING, turned to the section on butchering chickens and made plans for the following morning. We happened to have an out of town guest staying with us who probably thought we had completely lost our minds. "Have you ever done this before?", he asked. "No", we both answered and carried on with our plan.
My husband got up the next morning and said, "O.k., I've got my killin' pants on!". He reached for the cleaver and headed out to the backyard. Our visiting friend and I followed. I got a big pot heating on the outdoor stove. I looked over toward the coop and saw my husband holding Hanna (one of the Speckled Sussex). He looked like he was just having a little talk with her. I asked, "Are you going to be able to do this?". He said, "Yep". We all headed over to where the cleaver was waiting.