- I am a 50+ yr old stay at home wife of a scientist/Military man. I raise chickens for eggs, rescue dogs & cats & spoil them all. I am a silver/metal smith & stained glass artist. I, at one time was an secondary art teacher & Social Studies teacher. I am sorta a eclectic earth mother who recycles everything I can get my hands on. Enjoy working with power tools & even built my own 10ft by 6ft chicken coop. am pretty much interested in learning everything I can thur books, magazines & friends. I enjoy veggie gardening & doing gardens just for the chickens. I also sew & love making pioneer style comfortable clothes for myself & adding vintage lace when I can find it. I am pretty easygoing, but need my coffee first before I am ready to face the world & day.
Friday, November 26, 2010
To Error is human...right?
It has been a busy week for me. Monday I went to help Mary, my Co-op lady finish dusting for mites & treating leg mites also. I ended up bringing 4 leg mite damaged hens plus 1 very beat-up hen that a rooster was over excited with & cut open 2 large areas on her back. My husband & I left around 3:00p.m. so I could drop by the Tractor Supply (a favorite of mine) to get Chicken feed, cracked corn, dog & cat food plus a bag of rabbit feed for a neighbor(not the one mentioned below). Got to Mary's just about the time the sun went down so the chickens were heading for their coops to bed down. I borrowed Mary's husbands head light so I could have both hands free while in the coops to tend to all the chickens. They didn't seem to mind the dusting, only a few disapproving noises but when I had to pick each up to put salve on their legs & feet it got pretty noisy & crazy. I got battered by wings, beaks & feet by most of them but was amazed, when one little hen actually worbled while in my arms. She seemed to think a leg & foot massage was wonderful. Now the 5 I took home, Mary told me to keep as she has close to 70 & is a bit overwhelmed at times. These are very old hens & the legs were in very bad shape so I decided to put them down in the laundry room ER playpen to rest & get over all the moving, traveling ect. I gave them my special feed diet of chick feed, wheat germ, 7 grain mix, flax-seed, oatmeal & mixed it with pumpkin water I had cooked my pumpkins in the last few days. Plus I put Apple Cider Vinegar in their water to help with all the changes they were being put through. Now came the hard part, do I try & heal them or go ahead & butcher them for the freezer? I have 2 coops, 1 has 13 chickens in it, the other has 5 plus a duck. I also had 1 ER playpen with the new ones in the laundry room, 3 chickens in a ER playpen in the dining room plus 1 completely crippled little young hen who sleeps & hangs out in my soft rocking chair...also in the dining room. I decided Thanksgiving day, very late in the afternoon would be a good time to butcher them since everyone in the neighborhood would be gone....or so I thought. I went behind my huge 50ft by 20ft shed near the wooded area at the back of my property. I did not want anyone to witness what I was having to do & even put the chopping block on the ground with a cage near by so after I beheaded them I could put the bodies in the cage to keep them from taking off through the yard. Now you should understand even though I was raised to be a farm girl this is not something I like or enjoy, but I try to do it as quickly & painless as I can for the chickens. Most times I can get a chicken to sleep by holding it by its feet & making sure its head is straight down, this hen decided she was not going to sleep or even relax so my husband gave me the chicken he had carried by its legs to the back area. Well my 32 year old city girl neighbor saw that he had an axe from her back window & watched him raise & lower it, plus saw me wring the neck of the one I had, so it wouldn't see the other die. I had waited til near 4:00 p.m. when it was getting slightly dark to do this plus made sure every ones cars were gone before I butchered. Even though she is about 1/2 a football length away from us she came out yelling she saw what we had done & was calling the police. She is from a big city in Florida, a animal rescuer & a meat eater so though I knew she didn't understand farm ways, I tried to hide this from everyone. Her neighbor on the other side will also be butchering her roosters in about a months time so she should be completely crazy by then. I do understand her point of view but also know that I had to make a hard choice about these very old & damaged hens. If she had known one of them was suffering from old & new blood clots in its lungs & would have suffered a horrible death I think she might have not gone off the deep end. But since she never wants me to speak to her, I can't tell her this or that the other was was pretty messed up from the leg mites & may have completely lost the use of its legs because it was overweight & the stress was going to either break the legs or shut the legs down. So anyway, I did what I could for at least 2 of them & still have the others from Mary I need to decide are worth saving at this time. In the 3 years I have had my chickens this is the first time I decided to butcher them for the freezer, I have 3 chicken cemetaries out in my orchard area with at least if not more than 50 that have either died on their own or were so sick I chloroformed them to put them out of their misery. I really tried to be a good neighbor to protect the others that live in my area from seeing this, but I also feel when she saw the axe she knew what was coming & should have walked away from her kitchen door instead of watching. so I guess the reason for this article besides relieving some of the stress & pain I feel for upsetting her is if you live in an area with sensitive neighbors don't do what I did, either leave a note on their door or tell them you will be doing some chicken butchering so they may want to think twice before coming outside or checking to see what you are up to. I now know that I will have to do my butchering/killing in my kitchen away from prying eyes & leave the axe for the wood. But just to let you know, it can take up to 2 minutes to sufficate a chicken by wringing its neck or holding its mouth & nose closed.....that's why I prefer an axe, fast & they don't know its done. I do not like to be cruel to them just so I can put them in the freezer.