Life came to an end yesterday.
Life began yesterday.
Life continues on.
With the taking of a life, even the life of a chicken, there is a seriousness and a sadness. Much more than this, there is a heart of thankfulness in the heart of a farmer that is able to harvest and prepare something that has had countless hours poured into it's care and well being.
This day has been coming for a few weeks now.
In February when we got our chicks, we absolutely fell in LOVE with on one white Ameraucana. 'She' was just so beautiful and was different from the others. The kids held 'her' always and she was always commented on by guests as being so unique and beautiful. Little did we know the unique was that 'she' was in fact a 'he'.
It took me about a day to get over the disappointment, but I actually became rather excited. I figured since we handled him so much maybe he'd turn out to be a nice rooster and maybe, just maybe, we could hatch chicks every so often and sell them. The business side of my brain really started to get going when I thought of being able to sell not only eggs, but chicks too. The kids were thrilled at the prospect of hatching chicks, but those dreams ended a few weeks ago.
Our mellow rooster became what we dreaded...a not-so-nice rooster.
It started with me holding one of the hens, the man of the coop decided that wasn't working for him and so he 'got' me in the back of the leg. It definitely startled me, but I was thankful he got me instead of my son who was right next to me. Over the course of the next few weeks and leading up to yesterday, the rooster was getting more and more aggressive. It was to the point where I had to keep a broom with me just to feel like I wasn't going to get 'got' again. Seth actually had him fly at him three times a few days ago and all he was trying to do was close the chickens in the coop for the night. It wasn't good.
My biggest concern actually wasn't for Seth or myself, we can handle an ornery rooster. It was for my kids. They LOVE the chickens and love to hold them. I want the kids to feel like they are a part of this farm because you know, they are. They help feed, water, and yes hold the chickens. With the rooster getting to be a not-so-nice rooster anymore, I haven't let the kids in with the chickens in a few weeks and it's been a bummer. My little loveys are just too small to be able to deal with the rooster. So the kung fu antics pretty much sealed the deal.
With all this being said, yesterday was the day for the end of the rooster. It was also the beginning for us. He is the first animal that we've raised thus far from a baby to adult, from hope to be getting beautiful eggs to the end result of meat on the table. I wasn't excited really about butchering our rooster, he was so beautiful and I loved hearing him crow. He had the potential to give us chicks and potentially a profit. All this however, didn't outweigh my concern for my kids. I considered selling him, but honestly I didn't want to do that either.
My children, whom God has placed in my care, are learning new things every day. Things that a lot of children don't have the opportunity to learn. They get to learn how to care for animals, how to make sure they are fed well, how to make sure they are raised properly, and they learned yesterday that animals serve a purpose. They learned that the meat they eat every night was once alive and that we need to be thankful. They learned to to properly kill, pluck, gut, and prepare a chicken. My children were involved in the whole process and I wouldn't have it any other way. They are learning to respect life no matter what stage that 'life' is in.
Here at the Shepherd's farm we value life. We care for the animals that we have and make sure they are healthy and well, we are always learning how do to things better, and we are always keeping life in proper perspective. Our animals serve a purpose and that purpose is to feed and sustain us. We are ever thankful to God for getting to live this way and always thankful that we can raise, care for, and prepare our own food.
I am grateful to know that our dinner tonight had a good beginning, a great ending, and a happy in between.