I never in my lifetime thought this would happen. What happened to the nice vegan girl from the city? I was so cute in my PETA t-shirt and my veggie chicken. Having animals humanely raised has been one of the highest priorities in my life and in my small neck of the woods (I mean prairie) there is a flock of chickens, ducks, and goats living the high life. But there was trouble in the coop.
When Nancy shot her rooster in To Love Or Shoot A Rooster I asked her if she ate it. She looked at me strangely and said no.
“How come people don’t eat roosters?” I asked Elizabeth…and Nancy…and Monte.
“They’re tough. Have to stew them.”
“Ohh,” I would reply, pretending like I understood. I was vegetarian for a VERY long time before last fall so I am still new at cooking up chicken. But I have read a fair amount of French and Italian cookbooks so I know how to stew.
Remember when I told you that Ethel had her head cut open but didn’t know how? I figured that she got caught on something. She is forever roaming the driveway and front yard. Then Peep looked like a brain surgery victim. Finally I noticed that Laverne no longer would go near the coop. Her head was so mutilated she looked like a burn patient. I started to panic. The chicks and ducklings go out to the coop this week and whoever is causing havoc in the coop will surely take them out. I had to figure out who it was.
Sandy and I sat in the back yard two weeks ago nursing our glasses of wine, talking about everything at once, when we heard commotion. Shirley was hollering and Henry was trying to get her in…ahem…position. “She’s down for you, you Dummy!” Sandy yelled at him. Even though Shirley had squatted, Henry was pecking her in the head.
This created a moral dilemma for me. I have been avidly designing a farm with an environment that if you are here, you are safe. Henry was screwing this up for me. When he ripped Ethel’s comb clear off her head I mentioned it to Lisa. She said that he was a really mean rooster and that was indeed not normal. But he’s so nice to me! I cried. Henry has been very nice to me and everyone that comes around. He won’t sit on your lap or anything, but he isn’t one of those roosters that chases you down, talons bared. And he is so damn good looking. Such a shame. I called John.
John was raised straight back woods. His joke is that they had running water when he was a kid, you had to run to the creek to get it! If there is indeed a crisis or apocalypse, John’s gonna be alright. I am going over there in such a scenario. I tentatively called him and squeaked, “Do you know how to process a chicken?” He laughed. Of course he does, he and his son processed thirty chickens last fall.
“You didn’t name him, did you?” John asked.
“Who, Henry? No…”
“But what if it wasn’t him hurting the hens?” my last deranged attempt at reprieve. Doug just looked at me. He loaded Henry up in a dog crate and took him to John. A few hours later John brought me an empty dog kennel and a bag with a plucked chicken in it. “Oh no!” I cried, as if I forgot what he was asked to do.
I channeled my grandmothers and homesteading foremothers and stuck Henry…I mean the rooster…in the pot. I filled it with water and half a bottle of wine. Half an onion, several cloves of garlic, bunches of rosemary, sage, and thyme and set him to cook. The house filled with the lovely aroma of chicken broth and herbs. Five hours later I turned the heat off and an hour later went to strip the meat off. It was stingy and some places tough. He didn’t look like a regular hen. I put the meat in a little cream soup and served it over biscuits.
We each took a bite, thankful for the first meat we raised organically and cooked ourselves. It was slimy, stringy, it was disgusting. We went and got pizza.
So, that is why you don’t eat a rooster. Let’s hope the new chicks and ducklings are all female! All of the hens have returned home and are happily and safely wandering around the coop.