From this in January, to now.
My 12 babies are now arrogant, pushy teenagers. Apparently the roosters (seven of them) are attempting to crow. Or so the kids say, I haven’t heard them. I can’t wait for the part where they attempt to ‘tackle’ (kidspeak for giving the hens a good rogering) the old hens, who most certainly won’t put up with silly business from teenagers. Meanwhile, we’re trying to muster the courage to ‘harvest’ them.
This is an interesting part of the journey for us, as vegetarians of a few years now. Mostly, for me, it comes down to the fact that we do plan to breed fowl in some capacity (and have done so before). Knowing us and our gung-ho, over the top attitude to everything, we’ll do it on a grand scale. We have two breeds in our suburban backyard, and another three on our ‘must have’ list (If you have Crele Penedesencas, I have money for you). As a breeder, you must cull. I see people who believe they’ll keep or sell all of the hens and somehow manage to give all the roosters away, off in their la-la land. The market for roosters is very limited and heavily saturated, even for heritage breeds. So what else are you going to do with a few kilos of free-range, high quality protein you’ve paid to feed if you have trouble even giving it away? Shoot it from a distance and throw it in a pit?
Also, as a breeder, you must breed good stock. If hens are extremely stupid, or terrible mothers, or just plain nasty, it’s irresponsible to allow them to pass those undesirable traits onto the next generation. I’m sure everyone knows a person they think shouldn’t be breeding-in your animals, you actually have the responsibility to stop them. Plus there’s the mercy killing side of things-you can’t really call the knacker for a hen that’s at death’s door. Or for the elderly who have finished laying, but still cost to keep.
Plus it’s free, quality, (mostly) organic, very local food. I’m vegetarian more from a refusal to eat anything factory farmed, chemical laden and generally of shitty quality. Give me lentils instead of watery, fatty pork anyday. But i’ve had homegrown lamb and it was goooooood-flavoursome, tender, and not seemingly related to the insipid stuff you buy on polystyrene trays. I imagine homegrown chicken would be much the same.
I think this is the point where we are most definitely going to have to learn how to do the dirty part of the job, or limit ourselves to a couple of hens in the backyard. As the second sounds incredibly boring…………….eek.