Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Mr. Woo

I don't know what was different this morning compared to yesterday morning but whatever it was, it made Mr. Woo sing. It was a pleasant crow too, just as the sun was coming up. Perfect timing for the wannabe city farmer that needs to get her butt up to finish her fall and winter beds.

Fortunately/unfortunately, he's not going to delight us with his internal alarm clock much longer. Yesterday, I noticed him being a bit aggressive with my red hen, Ruby, and who knows what other kinds of mischief my teenage cockerel has been causing when I'm not looking. Besides, he's skiddish and wont let me anywhere near him so it's good timing because I've been preparing myself to get rid of him since I noticed his comb was bigger than the others- months ago. His crowing is the absolute line in the sand. It's time to say goodbye to Mr. Woo.

Part of saying goodbye is to take his life. Culling is a typical practice on the farm and even though I don't actually have a farm, I do have a desire to prepare a meal (mostly) from my own backyard. I'd like to be able to be (mostly) self reliant (for a million reasons that we can discuss in the comments). I know what to do and technically, I know how to do it too but...

But I'm afraid that when I take the knife to his neck, a part of me will die with him.

I'm afraid of losing a sensitivity to life that I've always had for all creatures, even spiders and other creepy crawly things. Hell, I couldn't stand the thought of unwanted mice suffering with a broken neck in my kitchen, so I adopted a cat...I (we, familia Franti) do not care for cats.

Although a quick and easy solution is to find a neighbor who is willing to "take" him for me, it will only be a temporary solution. In time, it will be one of hens' turn at the chopping block and I am positive that will be far more difficult because I like my hens. So now I vacillate between what I want to accomplish, what needs to be done, the options, the long term solution and the short term fix.

Any of you have experience with this? Any suggestions for the first time rooster murderer?

Also, anyone out there considering the urban farm and self reliance ? What are your reasons?

Maybe I am just making a bigger deal out of this than I need to. Yeah. That's probably it- I'm a chickenshit.


  1. Ms. Rojo (red in spanish, lame, huh?)

    What? Chickens aren't born under plastic, on top of a blue styrofoam tray? Say it ain't so!

    I've been checking your blog for new posts; thx.

    Not a chickenshit, a chicken lover; oooh, that sounds worse.

    WHen I was 10 I had a friend with chickens, I used to occasionally watch chicken executions, didn't bother me much back then--we always hoped that the chicken would run around with its head cut off for awhile, like happened once.

    Now, not sure I could handle it.

  2. Have you thought of going vegitarian? Then you can respect the sanctity of your chickens' lives, still eat their eggs, and just don't keep as many. I don't know. I could be totally naive about that, since I don't know how one does chicken population control. But I'm to the point now where I try not to kill anything (I haven't switched over to vegetarianism yet, but I don't personally kill things anymore).

  3. djinn, i like old fashioned names. that's why my bike is named eleanor and the three white chooks are named after the golden girls. i'm hoping to come up with good names for the 2 other hens.

    lessie, being a vegetarian (or vegan)is not something i aspire to. eating less meat, yes, but I don't get caught up in sanctity of life, only when i'm doing the killing.

  4. clementine, lettice, artemissa, columbine... (I've always loved the named Lettice, but its unfortunate similarity to the veggie has kept me from using it. But for a chicken....)

  5. No question, I would absolutely become a strict vegetarian if I had to kill anything I ate. I'm not absolutely morally opposed to the principle of animals dying for my own diet, but I could never kill something with fur or feathers--particularly if I had raised it. That isn't in me.

    (or at least that is what I say when I'm well fed. Put me alone in the desert for a few days, and I might change my tune...)

    Cassandra, Rowena, Maeve, Boadicea (if she's a tough ol' hen).

  6. nice names all...

    derek, i think that's why i want to cull him/them myself. i've always said i couldn't eat something i had to kill but what happens when the oil stops flowing and food is scarce. I will be grateful for my "training" in the home arts.

    not that i live in fear of dooms day. i just think this is an important exercise in humility actually.

  7. Okay, this is one of my weird passion things. I fully believe that we in the west are too far removed from the means of production for our food and that that is detrimental on a physical and spiritual level. I think we have a much greater appreciation for our protein (and by extension for our own bodies) if we have come eye to eye with it, if we recognise that it was a living creature that died so that we could eat it.

    However, in this as in all things, I'm a big fat hypocrite. While I think the only ethical way to eat meat is if we are willing to kill it ourselves, when push comes to shove, I can't do it. I know this, because our neighbors were offering us geese for about two years, and my answer was always the same: "I'd love a goose, will you kill it for me?" I could never bring myself to make that leap, even though geese are (apologies in advance to any goose lovers) annoying, loud, obnoxious, and they poo too much.

    So, what should you do, or what would I do? You should suck it up and kill your own chickens and appreciate having that one-on-one contact with your food source. I, on the other hand, would find a nice home for the chicken and go to the grocery store and buy mine instead. Like I said, big fat hypocrite.

  8. By the way, I thought all hens had to be named Henrietta?

  9. quimby, you get it. i knew you would.

    i wonder if this is good discussion elsewhere. whadyathink?

    and i think the red hen will be ruby and the barred rock will be...?

  10. So M, this is about emergency preparedness?

    Yep, Quimby, I'm with you. That is what I was getting at. It is one of the reasons I would theoretically like to be a vegetarian, to ease that contradiction. Yet I'm not now unable to give up certain meat products. I salve my conscience (in a rather pathetic way) by noting that you can't raise a pepperoni if you wanted, nor hunt a wild Tuscan red wine sausage.


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