Sunday was a funny day, a combination of industry and relaxation, beauty and, well, death. Huwyl collected the eggs for both Saturday and Sunday so we had a lovely bundle, I never seem to get tired of the sight of fresh eggs they are always beautiful to me. This kicked things off well, as we worked on various projects throughout the day. Stephen painted the kitchen and part of the living room in my all time favourite colour (yay!) and Huwyl and I worked on cleaning our windows, no small task in itself.
This spring weather seems to have brought out the desire to get things sorted, there are tasks overdue that we are now ready to complete as the warm breezes flow in through open windows. So yesterday the kitchen went from unfinished to finished, the living room is also partially complete and both look beautiful. It is also nice to be able to see out of windows free from muddy paw prints!
There was another task hanging over us, however, a less pleasing one to say the least. One of our roosters (Custard) had become more and more agressive as the months have ticked by and, now the temperatures are warming, it was time for him to go. We’d put it off for a couple of weekends but yesterday was the day.
Neither Stephen nor I relished the task but we knew it was the right decision, two cockerels and three hens is not a good ratio and the girls are looking pretty beaten up. Plus the thought of one of the children being mauled by an aggressive chicken was enough to steel our will. So to the chopping block he went, literally.
While I didn’t do the actual killing (or harvesting as it is euphemistically known) I did pluck and have a go at butchering. My verdict? Plucking is fine, though wing feathers are a bugger, but butchering was not my favourite thing to do. It was harder than I thought and quite stressful as I was worried about getting it wrong and spoiling the meat. The thought of killing an animal and then not even being able to use the meat did not sit well with me; if we didn’t at least eat him weren’t we just really bad people? It makes sense in my head anyway.
With a few false starts and help from Stephen, we got the carcass dressed and in the stock pot, phew. I’m currently on my second batch of stock (which included the ‘pluck’ for extra nutrition) and find myself slightly traumatised but guilt free. I hope that over time I’ll become a little immune to the butchering part, as I gain proficiency and skill, but I also hope never to lose the sense of significance that choosing the death of another creature brings.
It is the nature of farming I know, we bring things to life and then we end them for our own benefit; in between we try to give them the best life possible but those are the bare facts. Soon we’ll be bringing boxes of chicks and some very cute piglets onto the farm, some will live here for a few years as layers or breeders, some will have a shorter season and will indeed end up on our plates. But knowing this, being truly present for the cycle of life and death, gives me a greater reverence for the food we eat and the animals we take into our care. I hope we can give them a good life while they are here.
Each day sees the new season spreading out further, turning snow to water and warming the earth. As I watch the buds open and as we add baby animals to the fold, I am aware of their future ending, but that is the way of things and doesn’t stop me enjoying the wonder of it all while I can. Indeed I think the fact that it will be gone one day makes it all the more important to treasure and enjoy now. Isn’t that what spring is all about?