As some of you might remember, I’ve faced challenges in the past when trying to despatch a chicken. On the plus side, I discovered what I suspect to be a unique ability as an avian chiropractor. On the down side, recently my two cockerels have been getting rather…cocky. The poor skinny girls have been getting more attention than the only pretty wife at a swingers party and I must say that after a long winter locked up together, they’re looking rather the worse for it.
So with their condition deteriorating faster than the chances of a Slovakian foreign exchange student getting out of a New York nightclub with all their money, definitive action had to be taken and a light spinal adjustment wasn’t going to be sufficient this time. I sharpened my small hatchet with a knife sharpener, which did a fairly poor job but gave it just enough edge to not risk bouncing and set out to catch a chicken. With hindsight, I’d have preferred something along the same lines as classic Conan (circa 1982), but that would have opened me up to a whole side-story about horny helmets, men in leather jerkins and big choppers that I just don’t want to get into.
The target of my murderous intention was Custard, an evil natured bastard at the best of times. Of the two cockerels, he had it coming for a few simple reasons:
- Whereas Harvey sounds like Axel Rose gargling bleach after an all-night sound off against Rage Against The Machine, Custard is loud and proud and a very early riser
- He’s simply wrong. Like a Belgian biker in heeled red leather boots wrong
- He literally pecks the hand that feeds (although in fairness I think he’s still smarting that I named him Custard)
Determined and resolute in my choice of bird to terminate and armed with only my embarrassingly small axe and an old beach towel, I approached the coop. I’d have liked to have been as fleet and silent as a ninja assassin but given our house is currently surrounded by an unbroken quagmire of thick, oozing mud, my advance was more squelchy than stealthy. Custard heard me coming and I think he must have suspected my intentions weren’t to bring berries and sing a song about chickens roaming free.
After the second time around the coop and failing to do anything except caper and flap my beach towel like a desperate German at 6AM after discovering the Belgians had beaten him to the pool, I was caked in mud up to my knees and any remorse I felt for wanting to kill Custard had evaporated. My muttering had changed from a gentle “Come on Custard, I just want to be friends, it won’t hurt, promise” to something like “Arrrrgh, get here you fucking tw*t of a chicken, I’m going to chop your sodding head off and laugh.”
Needless to say, my words of encouragement failed to entice Custard into my warm embrace and so by lap five, I stopped to engage my brain which, up to that point, had been alarmingly absent. Rather than keep chasing the panicked bird, I had a Liberace moment and realised that it was far smarter to let the cock come to me. It didn’t take too long for Custard to seize on my apparent decision to give up the pursuit and flee for the safety of his coop. Unfortunately for him, at that point he had no where else to run.
The beach towel was used to wrap and stop him panicking too much and I took him away from the sight of the other chickens. I’m not sure if they have much of a memory, but the vision of their main man being done in by a muddy, red-faced, swearing hobby farmer was probably an image that would remain with anyone for a long, long time. Then, for the sobering bit.
In the end, it was over quite quickly. I said a few words, stroked his head a few times to settle him down and expose his neck. Then, I let the axe drop. The first blow pretty much did the job, although it took two more quick strikes to remove it all. Certainly it would have been easier with two people and a Conan-sized blade but I’m happy at least to know he did not needlessly suffer.
Once it was done, I let the body drain and stop kicking which was odd and unnerving, although probably not as alarming as seeing it running around a muddy field had I not wrapped it up first. Overall, the experience wasn’t as traumatic as I’d expected but certainly isn’t something I’d want to do often. For the meat birds we’re planning on raising, I think the $3.50 processing fee might be well worth the expense. Unless Arnie happens to have a spare axe that is.