Tuesday, April 20, 2010

To Eat or Not To Eat, that is the question...

Everyone, meet my babies. Or, anyway, most of them. That's Nigella Hoverchicken in the background, a little bit wet from the rain. That's Julia Childs in the foreground saying Hello and two out of three of those brown ones are affectionally called Two Fat Ladies. The third remains nameless. I can tell the difference between them close up, but not from behind... however I think the two with their heads up are the Fat Ladies.

...and they might die tomorrow.

You see, the Fat Ladies are horrible horrible chickens. I named them at the same time because they never part from each other. I probably shouldn't have named them after such nice ladies, because these ones are mean! I put a baby chick (from the previous post) out for a supervised free-range and the ladies JUMPED it. Full fledged attack. Plus they attack everything else and after a day, everything stops laying eggs!

Julia used to lay and then once the Fat Ladies came into the picture, she immediately stopped. She's top of the pecking order, but she still seems to be effected by the Ladies' bitchiness.

So.. they're about six months old and if you know anything about real home-grown chicken farming, this is a very good age to be eaten. Only battery horrible farming chickens in locked up pens flooded with antibiotics were meant to be eaten at 6 weeks (and thank Gd who'd want to live longer in those conditions?). Hens tend not to be intended for food, but here we are... eggless with eight chickens and two should-be-laying scoundrels who have been nothing but trouble since Day 1.

Of course this means.. we have to kill them ourselves. This is going to be a new experience for me if I end up doing it. Part of me wants to send them to the farm, where they'll have 750 acres to play on but another part of me doesn't want a couple of hens attacking mother's chickens either! Who knows if they'll calm down in a bigger space?

So... I'm torn. My husband is perfectly fine with killing chickens and seems a bit gung-ho about it, actually. (His last text message to me being "Well then I'll give them the chop!") He was raisedon farms and his job, quite frequently, was quickly and effeciently doing away with birds for the dinner table.

I trust him to not let them suffer - however part of me is weirded out by the fact I have raised these hens, fed them, given them a home.. and then chopped their heads off. Then, there's the part of me going, "If I am going to eat them, I should be the one to kill them." And it's true - I should have the cajones to do the deed myself and not send someone else to do it. Of course, even farm cows are sent to meatworks to be slaughtered, the farmers rarely do it themselves - so am I really so bad sending my husband in to do off with them?

Moral. Dilemma.

Especially since the chickens may or may not lay. But here I am, faced with the very real decision of ending something's life - so that I may eat. I eat free range organic chicken nearly every day and I pay out the arse for it. I know what these chickens have been eating (and expect perfectly beautiful yellow corn-fed meat), I know where they slept and I know what kind of food they should make... this is it, right? This is farming.

So, basically I send my husband to kill them both, I kill them myself (potentionally doing it wrong and letting them suffer), I wait for them to stop being arseholes and costing me a lot of money in feed in the meantime for eight non-laying scared as piss chickens, or I send them up to the farm in hopes of reforming them.

If I can't kill a chicken to eat.. should I really eat chicken?

Edit: And just to chuck some confusion into the mix, Julia just laid another egg! If she keeps this up, we won't have to kill the Fat Ladies, seeing as they're not halting egg production anymore.

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