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Monday, April 2, 2012

The Roosters have departed

Last week was spring break for the kids.  The lovely weather we had the week before that was sunny and in the 60's and 70's evaporated and we were left with gray weather in the 40's most days.  Still above our average normal temps but not terribly exciting spring break weather.  There were trips to the library, a trip to the movies, and general mayhem at home.

Both of the boys were begging for cooking "lessons" so meals took longer to prepare, but it was great fun.  Here is one shot of Duncan helping out with dinner after a shower.  He is getting rather long-legged and outgrowing his bathrobe!

The biggest news over this week was....we finally butchered the four speckled sussex X buff orpington roosters.  They were SO handsome and pretty nice roosters, but five Roo's around the house is a few too many.  They were beating up their poor father Goldy (who is a sweet old guy) and starting to run the hens ragged so "something" had to be done.

Backtrack:  I just realized I never told the story of this clutch of chicks.  Last August, while in New Hampshire, the speckled sussex hen (yes, the same one), laid a clutch of 14 eggs hidden in plain sight under an apple tree in the back yard.  We discovered the nest the first part of September accidentally because I heard some wee peeping noises and finally saw her in the grass at the base of the tree where she was happily sitting on pipping eggs.  Ten of the fourteen eggs hatched, which left us with ten brand new chicks just before the weather turned....(long story short- new coop in the backyard made from our neighbor's fishing shanty...true Yooper coop!).  Four of those ten were roosters.

We put it off until Sunday (fortunately the weather was cool and perfect) mid afternoon.  Neither Will nor I had ever killed or cleaned a chicken before so we were a bit trepidacious about it but all turned out better than we expected.  We used a killing cone on a stand for the grim part, and I skinned the chickens instead of plucking them.  I hate the smell of hot wet feathers and probably wouldn't eat the birds when my strong sense of smell/visual recall kicked in.  Skinning went well as did the gutting...not much holding in all those internal organs!  I have skinned birds before doing study skins and processing ducks (breast meat only) but this was a little more personal since the Roo's were raised here.

These are egg layers, or dual purpose birds, not the mutant cornish cross birds that can't reproduce on their own and that literally eat themselves to death.  The breast meat is darker and not as large, and the legs are much longer, larger and darker. It took them five months to get to this size (and I forgot to weight them).
They sat in a bucket of ice water to cool down and then went into individual bags on ice in the cold garage to cool down gradually before going into the freezer.  Two of the birds had odd breast bones/keels; they had 20-25 degree  bends in the bone (it looks like a zig zag)...perhaps an injury as a chick?

Sam watched the first bird and went inside, a horrified smile on his face.  When we came in after the deed was all done he asked what was for dinner.  I told him we were having spaghetti and he said "Good. Cause Duncan said if we were having a chicken  that he knew, he wasn't eating."  I'm sure they will forget as time goes on...

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