Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Dark doings down on the Farm...


Tonight is the night. Tonight my husband is away. Tonight I will pluck up my courage and do the thing I have been meaning to do for ages – I will kill my surplus cockerels.
It seems pathetic that I cannot kill my own chickens. I will go to great lengths to avoid it – my usual excuse being that we never meant to have any chickens in the first place. However, they came with the house.
I remember first seeing this place. Dear Charlie’s best mate P had returned to Suffolk a year earlier and was looking for a suitable home for us while we were in London and then in June just after we had moved into rented accommodation he loomed large at the door while I was de-fleaing one of the cats at the kitchen table.
Him: “You pregnant yet?” (back then P was very keen that we had children as quickly as possible perhaps because he needed Dear Charlie to join him as a new dad to bemoan the sleepless night that he was clearly suffering).
Me: “You found me a house yet?”
He had just heard that this place was coming onto the market begged me not to get excited and: “For god’s sake don’t say how much money you can spend!”
Both bits of advice went in one ear and out the other and I dived headlong for the car leaving P to handle an extremely explosive cat still in its towel vice.
Although I couldn’t actually look at the house; I could drive past it, which I did several times – we’d been looking for so long it seemed and nothing we had viewed was ever quite right. Could this be it?
Then I saw the most extraordinary sight. Just after the turning for the house and before the 90 degree bend in the road, a massive great lorry had ground to a halt; it sat there a-huffing and a-puffing and not doing very much. I stopped the car – what was going on?
Then I noticed that just in front of the juggernaught a chick was quite unconcernedly was pecking away in the middle of the road at some fallen grain; then I looked again, there was whole group of them plus a very harassed motherhen,who had quite literally taken on the lorry. Her wings were aggressively spread, her neck all ruffled up. The HGV didn’t stand a chance. Minutes later all the chicks were across the road and into the corn field then the hen swivelling on short bright yellow legs, dark chestnut and black feathers immaculately in place, strutted after them. My first encounter with the Rookyard brood; how I would grow to love them and to curse them over the next eight years!
As far as looking at the house was concerned I could hardly see a thing just a glimpse of Suffolk Pink up a dirty concrete drive massively overgrown with jungle like vegetation – I just knew it would be ours and drove off in a hurry to tell Dear Charlie that I had found our "Forever" house.
I don’t know why I feel I need to tell you about how we got this place and what it meant but if I don’t, then it will all be forgotten. I need to bring you up to speed so you’ll know what I’m going on about – it’s not really a blog. But if you don’t know the story of the hens, the house, the children, the dogs etc you won’t know me…
That hen with her chicks was what I wanted to be – a mum.
Now as a responsible chicken owner I need to protect my brood and too many cockerels is not a good thing. I will grab next-door neighbour Roger and we will do the deed tonight!

14 comments:

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

It's a great story. But God I don't envy you the task of neck wrigning! I am too much of a coward so let someone else do it for me and just buy it off the supermarket shelves. Good luck, yer a better man than me Gongerden!

blackbird said...

I hate it when there are difficult things to be done and when, being very responsible, it's up to you to do them. I'm glad that you have someone to help you.

I've only ever had just hens and they have died of old age. Another coward here.

I love the idea of old spices on the fire.

Jude said...

I remember my Mum telling me that her father was never able to do the deed either. They kept chickens during the war, and he had to take them up the road for someone else to do it for him. I even have problems removing the bag of giblets from a shop bought chicken, I'm so squeamish. In fact if I was more principled and enjoyed meat less, I'd probably turn vegetarian.

Expat mum said...

Oh dear. I'm shuddering at the thought of it.

Faith said...

Oh goodness Tattie - I don't think I could do that. Well, I hope it's over quickly thats all I can say x

ALMOST MRS AVERAGE said...

Just popped over from BMB to say good luck. I'm new to hen-keeping, and have only three of them. However since I got them, I've been a bit of a wus and haven't even bought a roast chicken. I'll get over it eventually. It's good that you've got someone to help with the young cockerels. You're doing the right thing. And I'm with Jude on the giblets...that gets me going too! What a soft touch eh.

Potty Mummy said...

The Night of the Long Knives, eh? Best of luck!

LittleBrownDog said...

Oh gosh, I don't envy you. I used to live on a farm and I could never get used to the cockrell dispatching. Or the eating of lovely animals I used to greet in the mornings with a pail of feed. Good luck!

Mud in the City said...

Well done. Necessary, responsible etc. But hardly fun. Time for a stiff drink?

mountainear said...

I imagine by now the deed has been done. Never pleasant but a necessary evil. I don't think it helps to reflect about it too much.

Un Peu Loufoque said...

Speaking as one who has just circumnavigated the garden in pitch black up to her ankles in cold mud I am most in favour of your chciken strangling if you would like to get some more practise in please feel free to pop over.

Tattie Weasle said...

MOB - After last night I can honestly say I too would much prefer the supermarket - none of them have any flesh but there again I am sure they will make excellent stock.
Blackbird - Roger was lovely as always. Both he and I stood back and watched young Ferry do it (he's the boy who keeps ferrets in my barn and helps int eh garden - though boy is not really the world for him now he's 22!)
Jude - Giblets are horrid though 'cos they are all cold by then yeeargh!
Expat Mum - II did get off lightly thank heavens for 22 year old Sir Galahads is all I can say!
Faith - Over very quickly, with no noise and absolute calm. However much I want to keep the cockerels together they are just too aggressive not just to me and the children but also each other and the hens.
Almost Mrs Average - Welcome and what a post to come in on - I'm not always so blood thirsty!
Potty Mummy - An infamous night... infamy infamy they've all got it in for me!
LittlebrownDog - It does get upsetting but at least I know the animals here have been treated well and with respect.
Mud - I had a VERY stiff drink afterwards.
Mountainear - Deed done; stock on - or does that sound a bit evil???
Une Peu - I am more than delighted to bring the team over; Ferry has already been introduced to Ricard adn is looking forwad to Absinthe. However, I am not sure if that will help him with the culling though...

elizabethm said...

Still not done this but the day will come I suppose! Sounds like the 22 yr old should set up a chicken strangling business for all us wusses out here.

Tattie Weasle said...

elizabethm - He's currently got the most boring job in teh world working as a Park ranger in the local council - he says half the time they are on a tea break! Poor boy - I will tell him a new career awaits!

Go on you know you want to...

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