Wednesday, February 8, 2012

chicken shenanigans

Me around 1982 (I think).

Finally, a farm animal I have some experience with. I'm no pro, but I have successfully raised backyard chickens from chick-hood to slaughter. It is the one farm animal that I didn't need to wait to get out to our farm first to experiment with.

My first flock included two Barred Rocks and two Buff Orpingtons, all hens because I live in a neighborhood (with a "country club", if you can call it that - imagine Boulder Creek's finest white trash [including us] getting sauced down by the pool every weekend in the summer) and didn't want to piss of my neighbors (any more so than usual anyway) with a rooster. I was only semi-successful in not pissing them off because those feathery bitches ended up being LOUD. Let's just say I gave a lot of eggs away to my neighbors in a halfhearted attempt to maintain the peace (our neighbors are actually way cool and never complained, but if I were my neighbor, those hens would have mysteriously disappeared loooong before we cut their heads off).

I also had experience with chickens even before that because my Mom had a bunch when I was a kid. I have vivid recollection of a family get-together where my cousins and uncles and aunties were invited over for the mass chicken slaughter at the end of the summer. There were headless chickens running around and pretty much total chaos from the scalding and plucking and cooking (but fun, nonetheless). My city-slicker cousins walked away totally mortified.

Feeding a chicken... a shuttlecock? I do love me some badminton.

I still carry them around like that sometimes.

We also had various other fowl, such as geese and turkeys.

Modesty was clearly not a concern for me yet.
FYI, geese grow up to be MEAN.

An ill-fitting bikini and a turkey that got so fat, its own legs wouldn't support it anymore!

Jay doesn't even eat eggs, so keeping chickens is more for my own entertainment than to meet any resolution to become self-sufficient (at least for now) - we figured the homegrown meat would be an added bonus. Our 10-year old nephew, Anthony, was so excited to eat a drumstick from Auntie Sarah's first chicken (even after watching me eviscerate the thing - I explained every organ to the best of my ability because he was so interested), but I waited way too long to slaughter that first batch, and the end result was totally unpalatable (we tried doing beer-can chicken) - he kinda picked at the skin but couldn't even chew through the meat because it was so tough. I was drunk by that point, happy to finally have mustered up enough confidence to even do the deed, and cheerily wrote the bird off as a rookie mistake, but Ant was so disappointed! One of them later got taken out by an asshole neighbor's dog while we were out shopping one morning, and we ended up just making the other two into stock. What a waste.

Anyway, for my second flock, I chose one each of the Delaware, Black Jersey Giant, Black Cochin, and Wyandotte breeds - appropriately named Del, Jersey, Cochise, and Whiner. These breeds have been much quieter, friendlier, and I like them a lot better. Cochise got mauled by a fucking raccoon very early one morning (that was fun telling my co-workers why I was late for work), and we ate Whiner on Christmas morning. I did it right this time, and she was delicious (unfortunately, Ant wasn't there to enjoy it).

Del and Jersey have been spared the axe because I have this romanticized notion that we are going to move to our home in Tennessee hauling all our animals Beverly Hillbilly style with my chickens strapped to the back of the truck in a cage, feathers flying, cackling (don't worry, I'm not going to really do this - but we are taking them with us), and then finally reaching the holler and letting them soak up all that glorious freedom and sun and happiness that is our farm dream.

Next up: future chickens!

~ Mitsy


  1. I love the childhood photos with poultry. :-)

    1. We also had pigs for a few years, so makes sense that I want those again, too!

  2. I agree with Anna! Those photos are so vintage! They look awesome! I am also TOTES jealous of your semi-farm-esqu upbringing? (You looked pretty comfy with those feathered ladies) Love it!

    1. Wasn't exactly a farm per se, but my mountain girl roots definitely run deep! :)