the hoff

I know I shouldn’t let it happen, but this guy has found his way into my heart.

He is one of the 14 Gold Laced Wyandotte chicks we bought from Andrew and Kira in June.  We ended up with 5 hens and 9 roosters plus our original six barred rocks.  About a month or two ago we found one of the Barred Rocks dead under the roost for no apparent reason.  Then in the past couple weeks we have had some sort of hawk preying on our free range flock.  He (or she) was sitting on the woodpile one morning and we lost our first rooster the same day.  It doesn’t eat too far away because the dogs, who stay fairly close to the house, found the picked apart carcass and brought it back to us.

The most recent loss was on Monday.  The kids and I went out to play in the fresh snow and I noticed the chickens were quite spooked and still hiding.  One Barred Rock was under the cedar and she screamed as the dogs playfully chased her.  I caught her and she stopped squawking, burrowed into the crook of my arm and closed her eyes.  She was alive, but terribly frightened so I placed her in the coop with Bumblefoot (long story short – she had Bumblefoot in the summer, but after we preformed a wee surgery she healed up.  For some reason in the last couple of weeks the others pecked her neck raw so she has been taking refuge in the coop until she heals) and they snuggled up together in the cat carrier (also known as the nesting box which is currently out of use as the old girls molt and the young girls mature).  I could only count 4 Barred Rocks and Mike was able to confirm the loss was in fact Goose (She came with the name, but she was easy to pick out as she had a missing talon on her middle toe) when the dogs once again brought back the carcass.

All this to tell you that this silly, fearless, ginger headed rooster (whom I have named The Hoff) has stolen my heart.  He is always the first one to come when I offer up kitchen scraps and the most stubborn one who jumps into the feed container at feeding time.  His “mane” is a brilliant orange unlike any of the others and he likes to ruffle it up often which always makes me think of a slow motion hair flip reminicent of Baywatch (hence the name).  He is fearless, but not aggressive.  Usually they  nearly knock me over in the mornings when I open the coop, but since the latest brutal attack they have been a bit hestitant to go outside.  I will often find The Hoff sitting on the smaller roost with Bumblefoot, the spooked chicken, and one of the other Wyandotte hens.  I can tell he has a tender heart and is kind to his ladies.

The time to process our chickens is drawing near.  The original plan was to process all the roosters and just keep the heans, but we will now attempt to keep this kind and curious gentleman (and hope that he stays just so without the others to keep him in line) and hope he keeps the “cockadoodledoos” to a minimum.

My heart is heavy at the thought of killing and eating our chickens, but I know they have had a much more natural and happy life than any chicken we would ever find in the grocery store.  I know it will be harder, but maybe it should be harder, especially if it means I have a more grateful heart.

 

go gently + be wonderful

e.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted November 29, 2012 at 12:07 pm by Meryl | Permalink

    We processed our first one just this fall. (A rooster who wan’t nearly as friendly as yours.) It was easier because we didn’t like him much, but it was still a bit…oh, unsettling…to eat him. Which is so funny, because we eat chicken about once a week. Usually the kind that’s had a good life, but still….the contradictions in my feelings are interesting to me.

  2. Posted November 29, 2012 at 4:25 pm by Danielle | Permalink

    We processed a batch of 25 this fall. We did the meat bird thing rather than the slower growing ones as we wanted to fill the freezers. I’ll be very interested to see what you think of the meat. Ours were also 100% free range and we only gave them access to food 12 hours of the day. They have literally no fat. It’s amazing and something I’m still coming to grips with in terms of cooking techniques, but just goes to show how much their quality of life influences of the quality of the meat.

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