Living

Squabble-Squabble-Cluck-Cluck: Raising Chickens

We have 22 chickens. We started out with 23. Each one of the kids named their favorite. Owen had Blackberry, a beautiful little black hen whose identifying mark was one “toenail” that looked like it was painted black. Sydney had Peaches, the tiniest chicken in the bunch. Mason connected with Squabbles, the largest chicken, who was competitive and full of personality.

Squabbles turned out to be a rooster.

While we watched the chickens grow, we started to suspect that Squabbles was not of the female gender, but we couldn’t be sure. We thought maybe that chicken was just growing faster than the others because it was more competitive and therefore, ingested more calories than the others. Squabbles was certainly bent on intimidating the other birds with puffed chest feathers and an in-your-face attitude. But when Squabbles started making hoarse-voiced, teen-chicken attempts at crowing, we knew we had a rooster on our hands.

We also have neighbors in close enough proximity that we knew a crowing rooster would pose a problem. Even I didn’t want to wake up to a crowing rooster. As romantic as pseudo-farm-living is, and as much as I used to love waking up to the sound of the rooster crowing when I visited my grandparents at their ranch, I wasn’t that committed.

We decided we would eat him.

My friend, Eva, offered to let me borrow her meat cleaver. We spent two months preparing Mason to have his favorite chicken for dinner. By the time he became ambivalent to the bird (he had to separate himself emotionally), I became nervous. Could I really do it? Chop the head, drain the blood, pluck the feathers?

I was dreading it.

And then, Chris the egg farmer told me that he has a rooster sanctuary, and I could drop Squabbles off at the farmer’s market as he closed up his egg booth, safe inside a box. Squabbles went to live with Chris, who told me our rooster would have many wives and plenty of branches to perch on.

Sigh of relief.

Our hens have begun to lay.  Here’s the first egg we collected:

We are so excited! Our hens are happy, and laying with regularity. We have enough chickens to provide Blush with plenty of eggs. Look at those ladies: 

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