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Free Roosters
5 August 2007


Dinner Crow We started with 11 chickens from a local poultry farm that was going out of business.  It wasn't long before they started laying eggs.  There was a wild rooster that visited our chickens for awhile but he didn't stick around for long.  Eventually we decided that if we ever wanted more chickens, we may need a rooster.  That's when we made our first lapse in judgment.  We told the local humane society that we'd be willing to take a rooster and they happily put our name on a list.  It wasn't long before they called back and said they had 10 baby chicks that needed a home.  That was more than we wanted but we figured what the heck, we live on a farm and they probably won't all live anyways.  Of course they all lived.

Our next lapse in judgment happened just after Easter.  A friend owns a little petting zoo and had six brightly colored Easter chicks that needed a home.  It was fun to raise all those baby chicks but eventually they all turned into adult chickens.  Out of the ten chickens from the humane society, six of them turned out to be roosters and four were hens, only slightly unlucky odds.  Out of the six colorful Easter chicks, all six were roosters.  Those odds are a bit too unlucky so it seems likely that someone knew how to tell baby roosters from baby hens.

Rooster1 Rooster2 Needless to say, twelve roosters is too many.  Roosters don't just crow in the morning, they crow all damned day long.  The "Hawaiian" chickens from the humane society aren't too bad because they don't crow all that often and they prefer to hang out in the macadamia nut orchard away from the house.  The colored Easter chicks turned out to be white leghorns, probably originally from a commercial poultry farm that needed to get rid of their roosters.  They liked to crow continuously and they liked to hang out near the house.  I use the past tense here for a reason.

I spent a month or so telling myself that I'd take a few hours some day and butcher some roosters but two excuses always came up.  First, we don't have a very large freezer and it's usually full.  Second, Costco sells two roasted chickens for $12.  The world record for plucking a chicken is 4.4 seconds.  The USDA says an experienced plucker should take about 5 minutes per bird.  The average bird hunter or farmer takes about 15 minutes per bird.  I think it would take me at least twice that long.  And that's just for plucking, the entire butchering process would probably take me at least an hour per bird.  So buying two roasted chickens for $12 makes much more sense.

We offered the roosters to our coffee picking crew.  They've asked several times if they could butcher one of our goats for birria so I figured they'd like a few chickens.  They sounded eager on the phone but they never showed up.  Same story with some of our neighbors.  Finally, a family of immigrant workers living nearby took the roosters.  We could only catch five of the roosters because the others were hiding way up high in our lychee tree.  That's ok though, we got the five noisiest roosters.  It was actually somewhat difficult to see the annoying buggers go but in the end the peace is totally worth it.  It's also nice to know we helped feed a family that could use the food.

As soon as the white roosters were gone one of the Hawaiian roosters quickly moved in with all the white hens.  He keeps them further away from the house than the white roosters did.  He is also much quieter.  As long as they don't start hanging out near the house again, the remaining roosters have a reprieve.  And next time someone offers us a flock of baby chicks, we'll just say no.


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