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Death of a Ladies’ Man

Rooster | www.myfoododyssey.com

We both knew it had to be done but we had been procrastinating for weeks. Months, if I’m honest. He was a menace and he needed to go, but somehow neither of us had the heart to do it.

The trouble started the day he arrived, when he had a run-in with the dog. I can’t say who started it but I know who came off worst – it took nearly six months for his tail to grow back.

Before he arrived, things had been blissful. My girls were young and timid and I loved being in their company. We put a small stool in the chicken run and I used to sit amongst them drinking my morning coffee. They would peck around my feet and even from my hand and I had no fear of them whatsoever.

Then, Beelzebub arrived. We had no plans to breed our hens – they were for eggs only – so we hadn’t considered getting a cock, but our neighbour suggested the hens might be happier with a cock around and gifted us a young cockerel just on the cusp of adulthood. I had no prior experience of cocks and just assumed he would behave like the girls, so when he first attacked me I was completely taken by surprise.

Rooster | www.myfoododyssey.com

Over time, his aggression grew stronger. I tried to deal with the aggression head-on, but that just didn’t work. I ended up carrying a small wooden frame (that we had built for the girls to roost on) around the run with me as a guard rail. Even at that I had to constantly keep an eye on him as the moment I would put the frame down and start to fill the feeder or gather eggs he would try to run around the frame. It was awkward and off-putting. The run that had once been a place of peace and calmness was now a place I hated going.

Everyone we told of our cock woes advised us to simply eat him. For reasons I can’t quite put my finger on, we didn’t want to do that. It’s strange because we planned to keep chickens for meat, but this felt different somehow. Being dinner wasn’t his raison d’être. He was the hens’ protector, even if he did take his job a little too far. We tried giving him away but no one wanted a feisty cock. We were running out of options.

Two things happened that moved us towards our final decision. Firstly, the snow melted and the weather got warmer, so we moved the hens from their indoor run, where they had spent the winter, to their outdoor run and resumed our practice of giving them free range of the garden in the afternoons, once egg-laying was complete. On several occasions as I was working in the garden, far from the chickens, the cock would run at me from nowhere. It had me constantly on my guard.

Chicken Processing | www.myfoododyssey.com

Not my most fetching outfit, but functional nonetheless.

Secondly, Arūnas left for a week to bring our camper back to Ireland. Over the winter Arūnas had been taking care of the chickens as I refused to go into the small indoor run with the cock. He had continued looking after them even after we moved them back outside but now I would have to brave the run myself. I promised myself I would try it for the week to see if he was really as bad as I remembered him being.

Alas, he was. Looking after the chickens was incredibly awkward. Because I didn’t want to go in and out a number of times I would carry the feed and water in with me. Trying to carry two buckets plus the wooden frame and the rake I held for protection all at the same time was almost impossible. The ground was muddy and I slipped more than once, having no free hand to balance myself. There was no joy in this.

So, reluctantly, the decision was made. He would be dinner. I had never processed a chicken before but have been gutting fish for as long as I can remember and I watched my father process pheasants and rabbits as a kid, so I knew I would be ok with it. The problem was getting to that point. Every day we came up with a new excuse. We don’t have enough time today, we already have something for dinner, it’s very windy – the feathers will go everywhere.

Chicken Processing | www.myfoododyssey.com

I plucked the same way I would descale fish – inside a plastic bag.

Having being chased round the garden once too often the final decision was made. Tomorrow. No procrastinating – let’s just get this done. In the end his departure was swift and painless. Arūnas, who had dispatched many chickens in the past, took care of that element and presented him to me for processing. Once he was dead my mindset changed completely and processing him was no different from the fish I was used to cleaning. I didn’t flinch, I just got it done.

Beelzebub’s last gift was two delicious meals. Being about 1½ years old and an active bird he needed long, slow cooking. I was surprised how small he was once he had been full cleaned – he weighed just 1.6 kg (3.5 lb), had a flat, firm chest and strong, muscular legs. I decided to make chicken noodle soup – the slow simmering would gently soften the meat and the cooking liquid would be incredibly flavourful.

Chicken Processing | www.myfoododyssey.com

We were not disappointed with the results. Both the taste and texture were different from regular chicken, as we expected they would be given that he was an organic, free range and active cock. It had a slightly gamey taste and smell and the leg meat was much darker than regular chicken. We made a large pot and so had leftovers for the following day. He tasted even better the second day as the flavour had fully melded into the cooking liquor.

I’m still getting used to the silence around the house in the mornings. I can’t say I miss the crowing, but I am noticing that it’s not there. I was worried that the girls might miss their man but they seem very chilled out. Given that almost every egg I cracked onto the pan during Beelzebub’s reign had been fertilised they are probably enjoying the peace as much as I am!

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Chicken Processing | www.myfoododyssey.com

Muscular legs and a firm, flat chest indicate he led an active life.

43 Comments Post a comment
  1. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    POOR GUY! 😀

    Like

    October 6, 2015
  2. I have to do the same with mine too. He attacks my wife and son. I just hit him with whatever is available and he stays away for a few weeks. I’m going to eat him also. I’ve processed two hens before though. But I like having a rooster around, just wish he wasn’t so mean, plus he is a little aggressive to my hens.

    Liked by 1 person

    May 8, 2015
    • Yeh, I agree it’s nice having a rooster around. They protect the hens and keep the flock together. It’s such a pity when they develop a mean streak and have to go. It’s not easy, but it has to be done.

      Like

      May 9, 2015
  3. Sue #

    He was very beautiful, too bad he was so aggressive. What did you do with his beautiful feathers?

    Liked by 1 person

    April 20, 2015
    • I couldn’t think of a good and safe use for them, Sue, so unfortunately we just disposed of them. If you have any tips on things to do with them please do share.

      Like

      April 20, 2015
      • sue #

        LOL I was hoping I might get some tips from you. My MIL has a very large bird, some type of Parrot, and she always has feathers.

        Like

        April 21, 2015
  4. Susan V #

    Congratulations, June. I suspect the first one is the hardest. It’s all down hill from here. So….did it taste like saltibarsciai??? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    April 19, 2015
    • Not quite! But it was yummy! You’ve just reminded me I have an e-mail to attend to -yikes!

      Like

      April 19, 2015
  5. Wow! Great name, Beezlebub.

    We had chickens when I was a kid, and fortunately never had a rooster as aggressive as yours was. We did have a mama hen attack our German Shepherd when he accidentally got too close to her chicks, though. Poor dog hid under the porch for hours, and gave the hen a wide berth after that!

    Liked by 1 person

    April 18, 2015
    • Ha – a hen attacking a german shepherd – that’s hilarious! Just goes to show how feisty those little hens can be!

      Liked by 1 person

      April 18, 2015
  6. I would have just let him terrorise me for life – I wouldn’t have had the stomach for that! Fair play to you for getting it done!

    Liked by 1 person

    April 16, 2015
  7. Fabulous post – just gets better and better… Love the title!

    Liked by 1 person

    April 16, 2015
  8. Growing up we had a bantam hen and bantam cock. The hen lived to be 16 yrs, alas the cock didn’t see it’s 2nd birthday for this very reason…….very aggressive and had a love of running at and digging it’s beak into any available flesh! Glad you enjoyed the meal 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    April 16, 2015
    • That sounds awful! Our guy lead with the talons rather than the beak. Not sure which is worse. All’s well that ends well, I guess!

      Like

      April 16, 2015
  9. Gary #

    Has nobody anything positive to say about the troubled cock? I hardly knew him but I miss him all the same. He clearly got some unsubstantiated bad press in early April (circa 1st !!!) which I believe led to questions over his fashion sense, sexuality and his subsequent demise.

    I love the Lennie reference in the title…you could go on to say…
    ‘He tried to make a final stand beside the chicken track
    She said “the art of longing’s over babe, your never coming back”

    As we say here in Ireland “Ní bheidh a leithéid ann arís” (We shall not see his like again)

    Liked by 2 people

    April 16, 2015
    • Gary, if you had seen this cock in action you would have no sympathy and you would not be questioning his sexuality! Despite the pink pyjamas of early April 😉 this guy was non-stop – the poor girls used to scurry away at the sight of him! He packed a very full life into the year he spent with those hens – Lenny would have been proud!

      Like

      April 16, 2015
  10. Glad to hear you got a good meal out of him. I still have my black Australorp clock and he is getting worse too it seems. My 9 year old daughter now carries an old shovel handle for protection and has,aptly named her weapon the “stick of justice”. His days are numbered also. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    April 16, 2015
    • Oh, that’s funny! I went everywhere with my rake – I was worried people might think I was a little crazy!

      Like

      April 16, 2015
  11. You showed that cock who’s boss! Good on ‘ya!

    Liked by 1 person

    April 16, 2015
  12. Glad to hear peace has been restored in your chicken run! Well done on making that tough decision. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    April 16, 2015
  13. I have to say I’ve never read a post quite like this, but I totally get why he had to go! I love your matter of fact tone and never being around farm animals it was very insightful. My husband has quite a story of his own about a rooster attacking him as a kid so apparently this isn’t uncommon. I know the anxiety having an animal that doesn’t cooperate can create. I hope you enjoy your peaceful mornings again with your girls.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 15, 2015
    • I had no prior experience of roosters but since I wrote the first post about being attacked I’ve been amazed to hear how many people have similar experiences – it does seem to be quite common. Peace with my girlies has been restored.

      Like

      April 15, 2015
  14. Lynn #

    For a city slicker like me, killing a cock sounds almost as exotic as big game hunting! Brings back memories of running from the rooster at my grandparents’ farm. Thanks for a delightful tale and beautiful pictures.
    Lynn

    Liked by 1 person

    April 15, 2015
  15. ah, so Beelzebub has had his plank walk. While I’m sorry for him, on the other hand, as I’ve had my own share with feisty cocks when i was just a wee little girl, I was also all on board on ‘eat that damn bird’ option. Better that than constantly looking over your shoulder.
    Regarding cooking free range and all natural chicken. They ALWAYS are like that – darker and harder meat and all that. But that is to be expected as store chicken are grown for meat and they do the growing in I think just a couple of months if not less, and free range chicken, especially those kept primarily for egg laying, take up to half a year to grow. As i remember, my mom and grandma used to solve this problem with longer cooking time. say if regular chicken stew would be done in an hours time, for those free range ones it used to be double time to ensure that the meat softens

    Liked by 1 person

    April 15, 2015
    • Yep, those commercial chickens are grown in no time and get very little exercise, so they are completely different. I would have liked to marinate this guy overnight to really soften him up but the slow simmering worked well. He was delicious!

      Like

      April 15, 2015
  16. Gotta be done… I once did one of ours, Fred, who was an evil beast, lol.

    I always used to dry pluck, but some of our roosters in the pen get to over 3kg fully gutted – like a small goose, so take ages, and after 2 or 3 in a row, the fingers start to ache! But anyway, last year I watched a video from the US about hot dipping, I tried it and wow, absolutely superb. I completed 3 very large roosters in under 40 minutes recently. Once dead, pop the whole bird into a pot of hot water (just off boiling) for a few seconds (say 20), then hang up on a hook by one leg, and you can pull chunks, literally handfulls of feathers off at a time; even tail and flight feathers pop out easily! (I was shocked at how much time this would have saved me over the years).

    For older birds (ours are usually 18-30 months), I chop into large sections (breast, whole leg etc) and place in a large bowl of salted water. Pop that into the fridge for 48 hrs, then use or freeze. The salt and the water ‘tenderize’ the meat, and we had no problems cooking some quite tough old birds after trying that.

    Liked by 2 people

    April 15, 2015
    • Some great tips there – thanks! I had seen the tip about the hot water but one book I read said it’s much messier that way – not sure why. It did take ages – almost an hour I’d say. In the end I took the skin off for boiling – I could have saved myself a lot of time if I’d just done that to begin with! I hadn’t seen the tip about the salt and freezing but they make sense – will take a note of that for next time.

      Liked by 1 person

      April 15, 2015
      • I was astonished about how effective the dip method proved to be. Sure it’s a bit messy, but no more than down feathers floating up your nostrils, or mites crawling into your hair during summer plucking – bloody marvellous idea 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        April 15, 2015
    • Uncle Spike, I don’t normally jump in like this, but I had to say, Thank you! We often put our birds in the freezer, but the other day I wanted one for my birthday dinner… I let him rest in the fridge for 4 days before cooking, like I normally would a hen, and he was so tough it was like eating RUBBER. 😛 Sad. I will have to try this on any future roosters.

      Liked by 2 people

      April 25, 2015
      • Worth a try Lynda. The legs are still tough and require a slow cook, but the rest seems fine to us 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        April 25, 2015
  17. I just hope you’ve made yourself a nice victory collar of Beelzebones! Well done 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    April 15, 2015
    • Doggie got the bones and feet – no waste in this house! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      April 15, 2015
      • “Why did they make me wait so long between the appetiser and the main course?!”

        Liked by 1 person

        April 15, 2015
  18. I’m glad you got to it finally – it was the only way but I entirely understand your reluctance … he was a character, he was doing his job but unfortunately he assumed that made him King of the HIll. The best bit is knowing you and your girls are back on an even keel …. enjoy those coffees in the sun amongst the little pecking lovelies 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    April 15, 2015
    • Thanks Osyth. It’s so nice being back in with them again. They’re so gentle, it’s quite therapeutic!

      Liked by 1 person

      April 15, 2015
  19. longchaps2 #

    Cocks be warned, she’s good with a hatchet, lol. Kidding aside June, I know that was a tough decision. It’s never easy to make the hard call with a pet, but you tried every other option and the writing was on the wall – or should I say the soup was in the bowl, lol. Looks like tasty soup too, and just think how much pink food coloring you’ll save over time 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    April 15, 2015
    • Thanks Susan. I know you’re a vegetarian so I hope that wasn’t too hard to read. I really did try my best to avoid it and I like to think we treated him with respect at the end.

      Liked by 1 person

      April 15, 2015
      • longchaps2 #

        You did. He was a bad chicken. Bad, bad chicken. I live on a ranch. I know ranch justice. He met a fitting end. That being said, I’ll pass on the soup lol.

        Liked by 1 person

        April 16, 2015
  20. Well, you got a great picture of him, and several good meals, so he was worth something. Enjoy your peaceful morning coffee tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 15, 2015
    • Thanks Bunty. He wasn’t the most photogenic fellow but I did finally get one nice shot. Me and the girls are pals again already!

      Like

      April 15, 2015

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