Phyllis finally got herself a man.
Isn't he a beauty?
He's supposed to be a banty, but he's almost mid size - smaller than the big birds, bigger than the banties. I haven't done any Googling to find out about this guy - I just know I love him - and it makes me happy to see my banty hens in the company of a gentleman. And he is a gentleman.
I like that in a rooster.
He isn't named yet -
Remember Clarence? Well - he went to the sale barn y'all - that bird was mean as a snake.
There's so much I haven't told you.
Remember the whole meat bird thing?
Golly - this could take a while to explain.
OK - the Cornish Cross chicken - the one we all grill, fry, roast and eat everyday - well - it's a hybrid bird bred to be market ready in six weeks. In fact - if they aren't butchered in six weeks - well - they start to drop dead from heart attacks, they can't walk because their legs can't support them - all sorts of awfulness.
I was going to post a picture here on the blog - but many of you read this first thing in the morning, and I just didn't want to ruin your day. I'm sure you can find a photo online if you are curious.
I didn't want that - I wanted to raise meat the way our grandparents would have raised meat.
I think what they did was just cull out the old birds - well - that's not happenin' here - so I have to raise them from babies for the sole purpose of meat.
That's what I did.
I went to ye olde feed store this Spring and picked up 18 straight run (a straight run is unsexed birds - meaning - they haven't sexed the birds knowing which are hens or which are roosters) mixed breed birds.
I did not name these birds, I did not 'watch' these birds. I fed and watered them.
They were spectacular birds - gorgeous, proud, cocky, strong -
I found myself calling them "baby" and "honey" when I would go out to feed them -
"Here you go baby...."
Then I'd scold myself - "no, no! They are not baby and honey! They are dinner!"
Every time I went to the feed store to get my feed, the guy there asked me how they were doing, and kept telling me how I should have got the Cornish Cross.
Then I would explain to him how I wanted a more natural 'heritage' chicken - and he would say - "you eat seedless watermelons, don't you? They are hybrid!"
Well played Feed Store Man, well played.
I kept hoping that a few of these would be hens, and I would keep them - but don't ya know that every ding danged one of these were roosters.
To say that my yard was noisy was an understatement.
For those of you that don't know - roosters crow ALL THE TIME. It's not just a time or two in the morning - oh no, they crow all the live long day, and well up til dark - so imagine 18 of them up in your yard. I'm surprised the neighbors didn't complain.
Then - the fighting started - for about a week it was madness - all I did was break up cock fights, which was futile - because they started up again as soon as I broke them up.
I would check the birds for weight every week - they were beautiful - feathered out - large - but there was no meat on the danged things!
I made a decision to take all but two to the sale barn and sell them - I didn't think that they would be worth the money to butcher them - and they were getting really expensive to feed - seriously - I think I had like $20 into each bird at this point!
Glenco cobbled up some cages and off Aaron and I went to the sale barn.
Lord have mercy on my soul did it smell on the way there - we had the window open and we were hanging out of them - 'breathe out of your mouth!' I kept saying...
I got $8 for each rooster, and I learned a lot through the process - so, although I still consider it a failed experiment, it wasn't an epic fail.
The two that were left? Well, they were the meanest ones...the ones that stirred up all the trouble - the ones that came out of the roost box ready to rumble.
Truthfully, it kind of freaked me out - I wasn't sure I could deal with this - I mean - I saw these birds, I looked into their eyes, I saw their poop.
The way these birds screamed when I caught them to take to the butcher - I shan't forget anytime soon.
I knew if I didn't cook them, Glenco would - well, let's say this in a way that doesn't make him sound mean, cause he's not - he'd flip out.
There really wasn't much meat on the bird at all - the legs were pretty meaty, but just a few bites of breast meat.
I made chicken noodle soup and pulled mine out before the noodles were added.
I manned up and put a bite of the bird in my mouth - I couldn't swallow it - I massaged my throat and finally it went down.
It was utterly delicious. Moist, tender - very flavorful. It made the nicest stock I'd ever seen.
Will I do this again?
I think so - I will raise Freedom Rangers next year - they are a hybrid - but they aren't as 'Frankenchicken' as the Cornish Cross.
Of course I then had the bright idea of fencing off the entire back two acres, getting two hundred Freedom Rangers and going into the free range, organic chicken farming business.
Wonder if the neighbors would mind 200 crowing roosters?
I just love my all or nothing personality.