It was a lucky escape for the three roosters who chose to sleep high in the wattle tree. For the other five, asleep on the roost, it was not so lucky.
It was a job we were dreading, but eight roosters in the coop is just too many. Just ask the hens. Or ask me for that matter, that pre-dawn chorus was getting too much. It was time for them to go. So once the boys were asleep on Saturday night, we caught five of them and gently put them in a small pen 'til morning.
Early Sunday morning the preparations began. We made a little camp fire and set a large pot of water to boil, grabbed a trestle table and sharpened some knives. Then I made a batch of brownies. Because I think it is necessary to have something sweet to counter the unpleasant task of the day.
Good friends arrived with more experience in these matters, to lend a hand and share their knowledge. And the job of the day got underway. Chopping, dunking, plucking and cleaning.
Once all five roosters were dispatched, cleaned and dressed, it was time for lunch. We took the hearts, marinated them for a while in olive oil and garlic before cooking them over the last of the fire's coals. They made such tasty morsels. The livers were pan fried to make something like this pasta recipe, washed down with a very fine riesling from France. It made a fitting accompaniment to those five young roosters.
Did you know that supermarket chickens are around six to nine weeks old when they're killed? Our roosters had a much happier and longer life of five months filled with sunshine, pasture and plenty of worms. And one bad day.
Today is a good day. We have a freezer full of meat that we reared and processed ourselves. The hens look happier and can rest easy without being hassled by too many roosters.
What's left of the soft rooster feathers flutter around the garden in the gentle spring winds. They collect in the corners of the porch, where they're promptly collected by small birds who take them away to build their nests.