I wasn't sure how to title this, but I had a bit of soul-searching over one's food source this weekend. Back at the end of April, Gail and I received a box of newly hatched chicks in the mail, and we've spent the past 5 months or so in keeping the chicks secured from predators, well fed and watered, supplied with treats and fresh air, space to graze on real grass, even the run of the front yard and the hosta beds. So yesterday the bill came due for 14 young cockerals - harvest day.
I can't say we enjoyed it, nor should we have. But this was the end goal, the very purpose of getting the chicks in the first place (the males, anyway). Of course, we picked 3 to keep, to take their places as Roosters of the Flock, but the rest were destined to become food for our table.
Mentally, though, it took a bit of adjustment. I have killed deer before, and relished the venison that graced my table as a result. But we raised these chickens from little fluffy balls of peeping down to crowing cocks, only to end up upside down in the cone, knife point in their brains, life's blood draining away. We harvested 14 birds yesterday, resulting in some 28 meals for the two of us. Food that we know the life history of, what they ate, how they roosted, how they crowed and how they mounted the pullets. It was not a pleasant day in one sense - I personally killed each bird, and took no joy in that - but it was nonetheless a fulfilling day in that we both took an active role in supplying at least some of our own food. Add in the eggs, and this flock of chooks has been truly appreciated.