Urban farming, hobby farming, off the grid...I hear those words a lot in various places. Living off the grid is clearly not for me, no matter how much my husband used to tease me about being a hermit. (Although, his actual statement was "If hermits had electricity and internet, I think you could be one." He knows me well.)
But today I learned that I can absolutely not be a true urban farmer. We had to finish hatching out some eggs late this summer. And since it's impossible to sex the eggs before they hatch, we wound up with several roosters. Five, to be exact. A month ago that began to be a problem. They were fighting each other, debating whether or not to challenge the head rooster (their dad), and were attempting to all mate the hens. We ended up locking up the main rooster and all but two hens (those hatched with the roosters and refused to join the other hens in the big hen house) so the hens could recover from all the trauma. Within a week they were starting to regrow their feathers. So that problem was solved, though we were still dealing with the crowing convention that started about 4am every morning. Well, I heard it when rolling over or shifting covers for someone before going back to sleep, but the other person who lives in our house evidently couldn't sleep through it. (But he can sleep through the dogs barking ALL NIGHT LONG. Yes, we're all wired differently.) Regardless, we can't leave the hens locked up forever.
After many unsuccessful attempts at rehoming and finding out the closest processing plant is about 4 hours away, I began researching ways to kill and clean chickens on youtube this morning. In my college years, I spent 6 weeks in Africa, and one of the villages we visited blessed us with a welcoming gift of about 20 chickens. I kid you not. And the missionaries thought we needed the experience of killing and cleaning the chickens. The boys in the group did the slaughtering and we girls had to pluck the feathers. It was gross. Thankfully the Africans took care of the rest. Later we found out the missionaries teaching our classes didn't do that themselves but actually took it to a butcher to have done. So since I've had one very brief introduction into the process, I thought maybe I could take care of the rooster problem. I thought I could review a few videos, and have the process halfway finished before Bobby came home from an errand this morning. After four different videos, none of which I finished watching, I came to the realistic conclusion that I am NOT a pioneer woman and have no desire to handle this aspect of a hobby farm. So not long after he got home I called a butcher shop, who gave me the number to a slaughterhouse nearby that processes chickens for a very reasonable fee. I don't know how long it took for us to round up the roosters and get them in their boxes, but we were home with birds in the freezer by 2pm.
And this picture, right before I loaded everything in the van, made me laugh. I asked Bobby if they were saying good-bye, and he just laughed. We both know our birds are extremely curious creatures.