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In which five roosters had a bad day

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.


  1. I love your last paragraph.

  2. how perfect. my family and i are about to do the same thing with our own 6AM alarm (rooster)... we might just have to try the linked recipe...

  3. This is the best way to deal with young roosters I think Michelle. A few months in the sunshine is much better than the alternative. Your photos and your words describe the process so thoughtfully.

  4. I've been in this situation before! Having to kill rosters! It was a tough experience but one that I think is a fantastic learning experience! Good to see where you meat comes from!

  5. I have often wondered if this is something I would be capable of. My husband thinks I wouldn't bet, and yet I think I could. One day perhaps we shall see.

    I had to laugh about the three roosters at the top of the tree though. Survival of the fittest indeed. :)

  6. You write beautifully Michelle. Even about a difficult day! I love visiting your blog and sharing glimpses of your life.

  7. I love this post. Not an easy day but so much nicer than the lives of 99% of roosters. Love your last paragraph. Xx

  8. One bad day indeed.
    Beautifully written post love.
    I've been thinking a lot about rooster stew for the past few days since the white cock in my last post attacked Miss Pepper. She got her revenge my screaming back at him"you are DINNER!!!!!!"
    Also, a few weeks ago I went to the post office to pick up our new killling cones and then on to school pick up where my embarrased girls announced that they were indeed Croquembouche moulds. Ha!

  9. i loved reading this post. our rooster ran away before we got to him. a wild fox on dusk chased him out of the yard. just a few minutes late putting him away. i like how your other 3 were sitting high :) happy to have come across your blog. xo

  10. Thank you for telling this story, Michelle!

  11. Michelle, we too butchered 4 of our 5 month old roosters last Sunday. They too had lived a wonderful life, free ranging in our yard and woods, loving life. My 19 year old son helped us and before he made the cut that would end each of their lives, he placed his hand on them and thanked them for the food they would give us and told each one he loved them. Later that night, we enjoyed two of the birds for dinner that had been lovingly prepared and roasted to perfection. All of my sons, my husband and I loved knowing that we knew where this food was coming from since we hatched the birds here at our home and watched them everyday for 5 months. Such a wonderful feeling to be so connected to the food that nourishes our bodies and how important for our children to see this too. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story!!!