Monday, 21 April 2014

What happened to the Easter chick?

It seems like an appropriate time of the year to talk about birth and death and the cycle of life and all that.
I'll start with some very sad news. For within the last six weeks we have lost two of our original hens. Still, compared to farmed hens, they had a good innings. Honey and Hazel both succumbed to old age. I have learned not to get upset when a chicken dies, but that doesn't mean it's not a sad moment. And more especially since these were two of the originals.

Honey.
In her younger days
Hazel.
During last year's moult, feathers in a right mess. 
 
But with the passing of old hens comes the birth of new chicks. Elvis, the last of the originals, is now showing her latest brood the big, bad outside world.

They are a bit bigger now than in these photos and have grown into quite an audacious little bunch.
But then yesterday, as this post was in its preparation, I just happened to noticed that they now number just six. I don't know how, but at some point between Saturday late afternoon and Sunday afternoon one of Elvis's chicks has had one adventure too many.

As I write this, there is a pile of feathers outside the back door. But its nothing to do with that missing chick. For some of Elvis's previous offspring met their maker too yesterday. The two Cocky lookalikes had grown old enough to challenge Spike, but not skilful enough to defend themselves very well. And the two cockerels from the next hatch, so several months younger and not really big enough for the pot, had grown up into very problematic teenagers, challenging the older males and constantly harassing the ladies. They all had to go.

So, the chickens must have wondered why they were being kept in a little later than usual on Easter Sunday. It was tricky enough catching them when they were confined to their houses, let alone if I'd had to chase them down first. While they were crowing inside their houses, the pot was put on to boil, the table top and broomstick were readied.

This teenager has been
strutting his stuff
just a bit too much
This was our first opportunity to put into practice the skills we recently acquired on the poultry dispatch and preparation day. I won't give you all the details, but this way is so much easier, both for us and for the chickens. In no time at all four cockerels were dispatched and plucked.



The two aggressive teenagers
when they were little


Dispatched
Well and truly plucked!

After a night hanging in the stables, Sue was up at the crack of dawn. (ed - just read this back and realised I need to point out it was the chickens hanging in the stables overnight, not Sue!) There wasn't a lot of meat on these boys, but they won't go to waste.




So that's the end of my Easter story. Enjoy the Easter eggs!



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