Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Butcher

One of my favorite authors, Jon Katz, often writes about the life and death aspects of owning farm animals.
Everything isn't all fuzzy chicks and cute pony rides all of the time. 
There are times when the harsher aspects of owning a small herd of animals rears it's grisly head. 

We bought 8 pullets from the farm store in March. 
Two day old chirpy balls of fuzzy goodness. 
As they grew we realized one was different. 
One was a boy. 
Not at all what we had planned on housing, feeding, nurturing, or hearing. 
And geesh, as he got older did we hear him. 
His crowing started out as a garbled mess. 
And as he practiced, which he did A LOT, he improved. 
He became more and more majestic looking. 
Beautiful iridescent feathers sprouted from his tail. 
His comb and waddle were big and bright. 
He was turning into quite a beautiful rooster. 
And he had gotten the crowing down to an art. 
But then he did it. 
He crossed a line. 
THE line. 

Zoe went out to the barnyard to get some water from the water trough. 
The trough that the horse, goats, and a few chickens drink from. 
The trough that houses a lively group of minnows who pop up every so often to say hello. 
Zoe was participating in a science camp at a local junior high and needed to take in some water to look at under a microscope. 
As she was leaving the barnyard, it happened. 
The barnyard that houses her pony from Make A Wish. 
The barnyard where she likes to go to sit at the water trough and pet the goats. 
Wheezy attacked her. 
Out of the blue. 
Scratched up the back of her legs. 
She came in crying and frightened. 

Later that same day we all went out to the barnyard. 
All of the animals were meandering around. 
Zoe walked over to an area where a few of the chickens were pecking around in the tall grass. 
Wheezy came up to her. 
He didn't walk up to me or Gigi. 
He went to Zoe.  
And attacked her again. 
Right in front of us. 
What an asshole. 
That was the last straw. 

Chad and I have always said that if we have an animal that attacks us, the children, or any of the other animals here, it couldn't stay. 
We had a stray, Lucy Moon, for a while, but had to get rid of her once she started trying to eat the cats and my parents. 
Wheezy was not going to be allowed to stay here. 
He wasn't allowing a child to visit the barnyard to see her healing animals. 
The animals that helped her get through the crap that is childhood cancer. 
So, I called my dad. 

My dad grew up on our farm. 
And it was a real farm in the 1950's and 1960's. 
It was a farm that raised pigs and chickens and cows to butcher. 
What we have now is a hobby farm. 
Where the only things we intended to eat were the eggs that popped out of a hen. 
My dad came over and we prepped for the situation. 
Boiled a big pot of water. 
Corralled Wheezy into the chicken run. 
Lined up the knives. 
And even though Zoe was full of tears and didn't want to see him go, she knew the rules. 
No one here can hurt anyone else. 
This is a farm full of hugs. 
Nothing less is acceptable. 

The end came quick for Wheezy. 
My dad relived his childhood and had a moment of rekindled purpose. 
We threw him in the oven with some potatoes for dinner the next evening. 
We became a farm that repurposed a fault within itself. 
We didn't waste a thing of that rooster. 
Our dog even snuck out later on and ate Wheezy's feet and head that were left on a pallet. 
Something we preferred didn't happen. 
But, that Lola?
She's one gross dog. 
What are ya gonna do?
And our roasted rooster dinner?
It was disgusting. 
He had a nasty attitude and a nasty flavor. 

Nothing is 100% in life. 
Your child may get a horrible disease. 
Your dog may get fleas even when he has preventative on. 
You may not get all hens from the farm store when buying baby chicks. 
And you may need to butcher a rooster that attacks your baby. 
Life is an adventure. 
Nasty dinners and all...


  1. nice post about taking care of business.

  2. I grew up in a home that had the same rule regarding people and animals: they couldn't stay if they hurt others. I hope that I keep that rule in my home. I know it can be tricky.

    Interesting that he didn't taste good!

    Great post.