In the Spring of 2015 we got our first-ever batch of 7 chicks and I became a #happychickiemama. My friends and family were surprised, but they were excited to see how our dreams of owning a farm were shaping up. The most common questions I heard from people were, “Don’t you need a rooster to get eggs?” (NO – read article here) and “Are you going to eat them?”
This second question is a very valid one, considering up until I married my husband I was a vegetarian. During high school and college I went through a 5 year phase where I didn’t eat meat. I ate eggs and dairy, but no meat or fish. I became a vegetarian because I took issue with factory farms and in protest of the alarming rate that our society was demanding more meat. It was also a great way for me to control what I was eating. I have very specific things I like eating and if I don’t keep it in that box, I don’t eat it. I am a notoriously picky eater and meat has always been difficult for me to include in my box.
It was very amusing for my family to see Ms. Vegetarian marry Mr. Hunter/Fisher/Outdoor Man. It was quite an adjustment for me to marry into a family whose regular dinner conversation included what part of the animal that cut of meat came from. I adjusted however, and actually ate my first bite of chicken breast in 5 years on our honeymoon. I ended my five year stint of vegetarianism – gradually shifting back to an omnivore after we were married- for many reasons. 1. It was expensive, and time consuming to prepare two meals for two people with very different diets. We got married at the ripe old age of 20 and didn’t have tons of money to be buying that much food. 2. I was not being a very good vegetarian and was not getting all my vitamins and minerals – my parents liked to call me a “pastatarian.” This was an apt name for me as my favorite meal for most of high school was noodles with butter and parmesan cheese. Not exactly a vitamin-packed dish. 3. I married Mr. Hunter/Fisher/Outdoor Man.
I have never had a problem with hunting or fishing. Even when I was a vegetarian I respected the fact that people would spend their time learning about the animals. In Iowa, it was also great that hunters helped with the population control of the overabundant whitetail deer herd. I don’t have a desire to hunt myself, but I value and respect those who do it properly.
Truth be told, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to eat my chickens. My answer to that question was always, “We picked chicken breeds that would be good for both eggs and meat. That way if any of them are mean or stop laying eggs, we can butcher them.” I have tried to keep them as farm animals in my mind, but it was hard not to get attached to them. Chickens are fun to watch and raise. They have quite the personalities and we enjoyed watching their antics.
We bought our chickens in April of 2015 and raised them up from chicks. In August they finally started laying eggs and we were in business! I NEVER got tired of collecting their beautiful eggs! We had 3 Americaunas – which laid blue eggs, 2 Rhode Island Reds, and 2 Black Australorps – which all laid brown eggs. I am not “egg-aggerating” when I say – they were the most delicious eggs I have ever had! (Ha! I couldn’t resist one little pun) We did some additional research and decided to let our chickens take a break from egg-laying for the winter (article about this here) and this spring they picked right back up where they laid off. (Ok last one I promise!)
I love raising chickens and it was great to have farm fresh eggs to eat and give to friends and family. However, this summer we decided to put our house for sale and work to find an acreage (more on this adventure very soon!). We decided to butcher the chickens so we wouldn’t have to deal with moving them and their coop once we found a place. When we first moved into this house we had moved out of a rental so it was easy to take our time moving out of the old and into the new. When you buy and sell a house the same day you have to be completely out of the old house and into the new in one day! Our homemade chicken coop was quite the labor of love and was hodge-podged together. It will take more than a few hours to take a part and re-assemble. So we decided to make things simple and butcher the chickens so we would have a freezer full of meat for winter.
This is where Mr. Hunter/Fisher/Mountain Man came in handy. Although he obliged me and helped me take care of the chickens and their chores when asked, he was not as fond of raising them as I was. He is, however, very good at processing animals. His Dad has been a butcher his whole life and taught all three sons how to process deer and other animals. Hub-Hub and his Dad took a few hours one afternoon and butchered the chickens while I was at work. This was not something I wanted to witness.
It was hard to say goodbye to the chickens that I had raised and I still miss their antics and getting fresh eggs. Hub-Hub is an excellent chef, however, and he made me some delicious bbq chicken!
When we do move to our acreage, I will get a new flock of chickens. For now we are focusing on packing and cleaning without worrying about extra chicken chores.
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