Sunday, June 15, 2014

Six Weeks

Six weeks ago I brought home 20 Cornish Cross chicks that arrived in the mail.  This breed has been selectively bred to quickly grow to butchering size.

The first week, the chicks lived in a large metal water trough in a stall in the barn.  The second week we fenced off part to the stall and now they had room to run around.

By the third week, they'd grown large enough that they needed more room.  So we set up a dog kennel outside the double doors of the hayroom.  The chicks now had more room to move around in, plus dust to bathe in, bugs to chase and summer breezes ruffling their feathers.

By the fourth week, the chicks were already developing combs and some of the young roosters were trying out their crowing.

By the fifth week, all of the chicks were getting large and plump.  One of them somehow hurt its leg and was unable to walk.  We decided that, as all of them were going to be butchered the following Saturday anyway, it would be best to put this bird out of its suffering as soon as possible.  Bruce (bless him) has learned how to slaughter poultry quickly and humanely.

The bird weighed in at just over five pounds.  We brined it and then simply roasted it on a rack in the oven.   Mama came up for a pre-birthday lunch and we had a feast of roast chicken and potato/lentil salad (potatoes dug from the garden).

The chicken was delicious.  Home-raised birds have a more assertive flavor than the blandness of supermarket chicken. They also have more muscle tone, so the meat has more of a chew than a factory-raised bird.  Some people might not like any of that, but it's fine for us.

I'm gradually getting more used to eating animals I've raised.  On the chick's side; we gave it a good life -- dust baths, bugs to snap at, sunshine and views of the world.  On our side; we know what that chick ate.  It had no growth hormones or any other additives to its feed.  The truth is that if I had to raise every animal I ate, I'd eat a lot less meat (as it is, I still don't eat much -- but I'd eat less).  I think that most people in the US are so removed from their food that they really don't know what's involved in bringing an animal to the table.

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