Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ahhhhhh Chickens....

On Saturday we cleared our chicken coop of some pesky roosters. Three Rhode Island Reds, getting large enough, and cocky enough to be dinner. :)

These are birds that we incubated in our old Leahy Incubator, hatched and brooded ourselves for long, tortuous months. Unfortunately we had such a horrible time with these batches, that we began to fear that we were NOT made for raising chickens. It was so very disheartening. So many didn't hatch. So many didn't make it even a few days. So many perished every day after. We have since learned that this was not our fault. Since hatching our own eggs, we have nearly a 95% survival rate!

A few birds DID survive from that sad, sad batch. And the oldest of the group were all roosters. Two had to go about a month ago. They were getting quite aggressive, attacking my husband during feeding time, chasing my son while he did his chores. So we ate them. They were delicious. LOL They were plymouth barred rocks which I had heard were calmer, but these two were NOT nice. So... done.

There were also a few Rhode Island Reds. But they were so scraggly looking and thin. So we upped their feed and gave them another month.

For the last couple of weeks, we had noticed our rooster would immediately clear his hens from the coop and stay away all day, while these little (nearly full size) roosters took over the coop. They were not aggressive to us, *bonus*, but they obviously were annoying to our Main Roo and his gals. We also decided, after having them on special feed for a month, that they still looked so ugly and ragged, that we just didn't like their breed, and didn't want to continue with them. So, as I heard their competing cockadoodles with our main chicken man, and saw clearly that they were larger than our hens, we decided it was time to eat them.

My son and husband girded themselves, for the snow and the job. They herded the buggers into the coop and then, capturing them, took them to our 'butchering block'. I did not watch the entire proceedings, although I did get a good laugh watching my husband chase an escapee, while my son held in one hand a headless chicken and an upside down roo in the other, taking it all in stride. I doubt many little lads get these types of educational experiences.

This time we skinned the chickens instead of plucking them. It was MUCH quicker! I was glad to see the birds were all good sized and healthy.

I also collected the livers to make some pate. I remember going out to a local restaurant, as I was growing up, and having little melba toasts with pate. I am not good about following the letter, when it comes to recipes. So I basically just threw some chopped onions, garlic and herbs in butter and then sauteed the crud out of that liver. Then I threw it in my magic bullet and refrigerated it overnight. It turned out great. Even the kids asked for more.

I then boiled the chickens and pulled it off the bone and diced it. I was able to fill 7 pints with the diced meat. I also boiled the carcasses and got 8 quarts of good thick broth. I also canned some jars of water because I don't run the canner unless it is full.

A pretty good return!

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