Last week, I took advantage of the gorgeous weather and moved 8 roosters from their chicken tractor to the freezer. John had warned our builders that they might hear some rooster squawking coming from down by the barn. I just hoped I wouldn't cause too much of a spectacle. I'm used to having the farm to myself during school days, so being here with the builders has been different. For example, rather than just being mad at myself, I was also embarrassed when I high-centered the lawn mower down by the basketball court 2 weeks ago. So, I just hoped that this rooster slaughter day would go off without a hitch.
These roosters were from the batch of chicks we got just before Easter -- in time for Open Farm. The hens have already been moved to the chicken wagon with the other layers. We had ordered a bunch of Pioneers this time -- they are a good middle-ground breed. The hens are decent layers, and the roosters beef up enough to eat. I was not prepared for how enormous these guys had gotten, though. They hardly fit into the killing cone! In fact, because of his insecure fit in the cone, one of the huge ones jumped right out of it just as I'd cut off his head. He ran around squawking (yes, they can squawk without a head) until I scooped him back up and held him suspended by his feet as he continued to flail and splatter me EVERYWHERE with his blood. So much for avoiding a spectacle.
And wouldn't you know that this was the day our builders' wives stopped by to check out the progress. Girl 1 (home sick from school that day) and I gave them a tour, walking them through the floor plan. It wasn't until I got back inside the trailer for lunch that I glanced in the mirror and saw the blood splattered across my face. I asked Girl 1 why she hadn't clued me in before letting me play hostess to our guests. Her response: "I figured you knew it was there." Oh, well.
Overall though, things went pretty smoothly for the processing of the 8 good-sized roosters. And, then there was one left. "Doyle Crab" as the kids named him(I have no idea what this is based on) is TINY. He was the free chick included in our order and was labeled as an "exotic" breed, but the best I can tell, he is a Silver Spangled Hamburg. Anyway, I figured he is worth more to us as a tick-eater than as meat for our table, so he was spared the killing cone. I set him free and am hopeful that he is quick and nervous enough to survive okay outside the confines of the chicken tractor. He seems to be enjoying his freedom and spends most of the day out in the woods of the buck pen, fraternizing with the other fellas.
So, these giant roosters will feed us this fall. I have one in the CrockPot even now. For this recipe, I usually throw in a whole chicken, but weighing in at 5.5 lbs. -- dressed and skinned -- it wouldn't fit in the CrockPot whole, so I had to go ahead and cut it into pieces. Based on my calculations, between the meat and broth I can make, I think this one rooster could feed us for the rest of the week!