When we first moved onto the farm, we were given four young chickens. Three Rhode Island Red hens and a rooster of some other breed. We named the rooster Max, one of the Rhode Island Reds turned out to be a rooster and we dubbed him Rex. So, after we added 32 White Leghorns, we had 2 roos and 34 hens. Max ruled the roost while Rex worked his game outside of Max’s radar.
One day a few months ago Sarah, our four-year old, decided to wear her fairy wings. Max apparently thought she was some type of mutant come to devour “his” hens. He climbed her back and gave her quite the thrashing. No blood was drawn but she now had an irrational terror of Max. We reasoned that if she didn’t wear the wings, then Max would leave her alone. She didn’t believe us and I reckon she was right not to. Max soon took to terrorizing our boys to who are 6 and 8. We soon had three of the most gun er, rooster shy kids around. Before they’d step out side, they’d look all around to see if Max was anywhere in the vicinity. They would either arm themselves with sticks, rakes, rocks etc. and venture out, OR they’d see Max strutting past and slam the door shut and wail, “MAX IS OUT THERE!!!” I was soon hearing requests that Max be dispatched, more or less. I planned to, but I wanted to wait until we process our meat birds.
It all came to a head though yesterday, when I gave David the task of filling up the water troughs for the cows. As he pulls the hose up to the tubs, Max comes around the corner of the barn. “Daaaddy!” David hollers. “What!” I all but scream back. “Max is coming!” “Well, you have a hose. If he comes toward you, swing it at him.” I walked to the spigot, and David basically turned into a quivering mass of blubbering hysteria. I spun the water on and told him he could just spray Max with the hose, but the poor kid just kept wailing. His mother stood guard over him and kept him safe from Max’s beak and spurs.
Now before the accusations start flying about child abuse or some other endangerment, this is a farm. Roosters are a part of farming according to my model. My kids needed to learn how to deal with an animal such as Max. I don’t want them to flippantly decide that an animal could simply be gotten rid of due to one trait. Max actually fulfilled his job well. He kept an active lookout for danger. If he spotted a hawk, he would give the call that must equate to “Take cover!” and every hen on the property would make tracks for the barn. Max had a role and he filled it. Unfortunately he included terrorizing my kids.
After the incident at the water trough though, I decided that the time had come. I told the kids that I was going to kill Max the next day. You’d have thought I’d announced that we were going to Disney! I admonished them a little for their celebratory reaction. “We’re not just killing him to kill him I told them. “His death will have a purpose so, we’re going to eat him.” They were quite fine with that. Early this morning, I caught him and put him in the chicken crate. After the kids were up and dressed, we went to work. Max got the same treatment as the broilers. I put him upside down in a make shift killing cone ,he was quite calm. I cut his carotid, and he quickly “went to sleep”. The next task was plucking. I opted to pluck as much dry as possible. Pulling wet feathers is less than fun. I’ll spare the rest of the details but I’ll say this, eating a bird that has been running around for at least six months was quite the culinary experience.