Monthly Archives: October 2012

Rooster Harvest

An update on the chickens.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now, though I’m still not sure if I’ve figured out how best to approach it. It’s a post about “harvesting” our roosters. Unfortunately, we had to do rather more of this than we thought, as of our ten chicks SEVEN turned out to be roosters. We only ever wanted hens for eggs, but to get heritage breeds we needed to get unsexed chicks… I also told myself that proceeding this way was somehow “honest”, and would help us understand the whole process. And it has, though it’s not always fun.

I’m not going to go into detail about killing the roosters, since if you are looking for info there are experts and they are NOT US. In a nutshell, we caught them, put them in a milk jug “cone”, slit their throats and let them bleed out. They were fairly calm (especially if you can catch them quickly, without fuss) and while I can’t pretend to know what chickens are feeling, I don’t think there was much suffering. Cutting was not always easy and I can appreciate how cutting their heads off with an axe would be quick and final. But lacking experience, neither of us felt we had the confidence for that.

It’s not hard at all the in the way you might imagine, you know, feeling bad for killing a creature, because so much of your energy is focused on trying to kill them quickly and make that whole process as smoothly as possible that you just feel relief when they are gone. But it is hard. We found it hard and are very glad to be done.

And “done” left us with 3 hens and 1 rooster. We killed 5 roosters and one was taken by a hawk. So we bought two Buff Orpington pullets to add to the flock. On another day (in a more upbeat post) I’ll show you some pictures and tell you a little more about them.

Understandably, I don’t like to dwell too much on the actual dispatching of the roosters. As we have been saying to ourselves, you’d have to wonder about somebody who didn’t find the whole thing at least a little difficult. But fortunately we can also remind ourselves that our roosters had a pretty wonderful life, free-ranging about at Good Cheer, and we can feel proud of that.

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Filed under food, gardening, Uncategorized

The Luminous Quince

I have very little experience with quinces. We have a bush that produces a small number of fruit, but not enough for anything. I’ve been eyeing a quince bush in the garden of an empty house I pass on one of my walks. Yellow, glowing balls. I waited and waited to see if anybody was going to pick them but as they began to fall to the ground, un-collected, I felt emboldened and picked a few to add to my collection. They really are most beautiful, and their skin is very fragrant. As I washed them and laid them out on the counter I kept thinking of Flora Post’s “golden orb”. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you need to read (or watch for that matter)  Cold Comfort Farm.

I turned my golden orbs into Quince Jelly. Having never tasted quince before I was eager to sample it. It reminds me very much of plum jelly and this particular batch seems to have quite a nice balance of tart and sweet. I made 3 jars for the pantry shelf and a half jar to start on right away. I won’t leave them in the light, of course, but they do look luminous, don’t they?

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Rose Hips

Yesterday two things happened: Little R found and became interested in a beaded necklace of mine and a friend mentioned stringing rose hips together to make a garland. My brain put them together. So I collected a few handfuls of hips, and while Little R napped (and while I should have been doing countless other things) I made a little necklace and bracelet out of them. They are such pleasing objects and they looked quite inviting, all strung together.

They were loved.  And then they were broken (entirely expectedly) so we sat outside in the beautiful late afternoon sunshine while I made bracelets for both of us using elastic thread.

The elastic thread held up much better, with Little R’s bracelet lasting until this morning. Ah, but they are beautiful things of impermanence anyway. And then mummy and baby were both saved from a horrid and crabby morning by going out to pick some more rose hips in the sun.

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Filed under gardening, making, with the baby