Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Rooster Named Bertha

I'm sure you all know by now that I have chickens.  Six...er...five to be exact.  I've watched them grow from tiny little peepers, into big fat chickens, and I've had many a vision of happy, egg laying years ahead.  The thought of what to do with my hens when they stop laying has also crossed my mind.  I've always known that whatever I choose to do, it's my responsibility since I'm the one wanted them, cares for them, etc.  It's like having any other animal, really...but with chickens, when they stop laying, they need to be killed...which is unlike any other animal.  As the one who took responsibility for them from day one, I knew the final responsibility would also be mine.  BUT, I knew I had a few years a least to prepare myself for that day, until the one day when Big Bertha let out a big, FAT cock-a-doodle-dooooO!

We had been wondering for some time whether or not Big Bertha was a rooster.  She didn't really have many rooster like characteristics, she didn't have that extra long neck, or the super long tail feathers.  Her comb and wattles were only a smidge bigger than the rest of the ladies, and her body was a little larger.  I never saw her try to mate with the other chickens, and she was a terrible protector; any time I came through the fence and tried to pick up a chicken, Bertha would squawk loudly and be the first one to run away....every chicken for them self, evidently.  I thought I had head a faint crow last Sunday, and on Friday, while I was at work, Kristoffer confirmed our worst fear....Big Bertha, was in fact....Big Daddy.

I was super bummed.  Mostly because I hadn't prepared myself for doing the deed this year.  So because I was at work and wouldn't be home until almost 7, and I didn't want this rooster crowing all day after Kris left for work at 1, I asked Kristoffer if he felt comfortable...doing the deed.  He did, and I felt awful for pushing the responsibility off on him.  So Kristoffer whacked him.

I told Kris to put him all wrapped up into the freezer, and I would clean him out the next day.  I watched a multitude of chicken plucking/cleaning videos on YouTube that night, and felt relatively prepared.  So I got to it the next day.  The hardest part was stripping the feathers, not physically, that part was easy, but because it was my chicken, you know?  I dunked it in hot water, tied it up and they came out relatively easily, although, it would have been easier if he were fresh, not quite as easy after freezing and thawing.

Then I took my sharpened knife and got to work.  There are a couple of tools I wish I had to make it a little easier, but I got the job done, although it wasn't the prettiest butchering job.  I ended up slicing off the breasts (which were quite small) and the legs and planned on using them for biscuits with chicken gravy, which I did.  The breasts were quite yummy, I wish there was more to them, the legs were very tough, not my fave.

All in all, it was tough, but I'm glad I did it.  I'm a country girl with a dad who hunted and cleaned his own animals, and I like to think he would have been proud of me.  I've always tried hard to push myself to do things that may not always be easy, but that give me experience and wisdom and mad skills that make my hubby a proud man.  I'm a great wife, by the way, and if the government ever shuts down and the grocery stores can't afford to ship in their food from heaven-knows-where, this girl right here can get it done and feed her family.  And anyway, I totally have a new appreciation for where food comes from.  It's tough plucking and cleaning your own chicken!

So here are a few pictures, if you're interested.

Ripping off the feathers:

 Hard at work!
 Here's my final product!  Some meat on the right, and a carcass that I made into chicken stock.
So there you have it.  One rooster dinner!

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