Rockie’s Demise

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Rockie Rooster

I’ve become a REAL farmer. I’m also learning the hard lessons of being a farmer.

In many of my farming books, and in particular, All Flesh is Grass and Grass-Fed Cattle, the authors speak of only keeping the strongest animals in your herd or flock. Never purchase a runt or injured animal.

Well, I guess I’m a sucker. My heart is so darn soft it’s not funny. When I bought Rockie…yea, I paid good money for a bird with a broken wing. At the time, I thought he was a she and that a broken wing had nothing to do with laying good farm eggs.

Roxie soon turned into Rockie. And with that came the male voice of a rooster. You’ve seen the sleep commercial…..a rooster crowing in the middle of the night is NOT funny to the owner or the neighbors, especially those living in the rural suburbs of Washington DC.

Rockie became a good rooster though. He kept order in the hen house and protected my little Abigail Adams until she could fend for herself. He fertilized many eggs and was my own personal alarm system. He didn’t take well to strangers and would sound the alarm whenever anything was out of place.

BUT

Rockie crowed. In the early morning hours as I was trying to not wake up….he’d crow, crow, crow. I’d get so mad that I’d swear today was the day. Then, I had a dream that Rockie’s day had come. I thought maybe it was a sign.

So yesterday in the midst of great stress in my life, I caged Rockie….an interesting feat…and proceeded to prepare the table and sharpen the knife.

I made a funnel from an old milk jug and nailed it to the tree. I estimate Rockies weight to be 5-8 lbs hanging weight as they say. He was very resigned to the fact that his day was up. He was becoming Sunday dinner. Somehow he just knew for over a week what I was thinking. I just know he did.

Anyway, I tried to slit his throat quickly and humanely. He was so scared. Done. I cried my heart out and cry again as I write this. I never want to do it again. I will pay whatever the price for birds that are freezer ready. I just can’t do it again. I think it’s Gene Logsdon that says, don’t cull chickens too often because your heart becomes too hardened. And a farmer needs to have a tender heart.

Oh my heart is surely tender.

Hang in there…the story only gets better.

I left Rockie to bleed out and went in the house for a few minutes. When I returned the funnel was on the ground and Rockie was no where in sight. I swear he was dead. I watched him for a few seconds after the fact and he didn’t move and he was bleeding. But now I had a dead chicken running around.. Oh my goodness, what if an animal took him and dropped him at the neighbors front door. Oh my goodness. Where was Rockie?

I started looking around. The tears had now become lighter with a little laughter. Frankly I was glad that whatever took my rooster could have it. I didn’t want to dress him for Sunday dinner.

There he was in the herb garden about 5-6 feet from the tree. It remains a mystery to me how he got there. But the saying, “I’m like a chicken running around with my head cut off”, makes a lot more sense to me today.

Good bye Rockie Boy, you were a good rooster.

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