Monday, June 10, 2013

The Beginning, The End, and The In Between

Life came to an end yesterday.

Life began yesterday.

Life continues on.

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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.


  1. How well I remember this event at Aunt Bonnie's although there was no sadness, merely the fact that something, always, had to die so we could eat. When it was a chicken or rooster, it was a lot messier than when it was vegetables but we still had to eat. God always provided, still does, and growing and killing my own food teaches lessons folks with sidewalks cannot begin to comprehend. When Y2K came 'round, someone asked if I'd feed someone if they came to my door. I replied, "Yes, but only after they've contributed to whittling down the chore list." That person was aghast that I'd "force" someone to work for their food. "Why not? I did" was my reply but there was no comprehension and that is So Very Sad. God gave us work, meaningful work and we're never happier than when praising Him and/or doing the work He's given us.
    Sorry for the discourse; I think a button was hit -grin-.
    God's blessings on you, yours and the work of your hands and heart.

  2. When I told my girls we were raising chickens for meat this year, my oldest (7 year old) had a hard time with it. I then explained how we are stewards for God's creatures, He placed them here for us to take care but also to provide food for us as well. Also, the life our chickens will be higher quality than the ones raised in the factory farms and that teaches us to respect where our food comes from. She's still not warm to the idea, but is beginning to understand and repeats what I say with enthusiasm when the subject comes up. We have had to process a couple of chickens thanks to the dog :-(, so we have all gotten a taste of how good they are!

    I enjoy your blog and can relate as we try to build our homestead as well.

  3. Fantastic post! We had 5 roosters last year that turned mean, and yes they ended up as food as well. I think you are teaching your children amazing lessons! So many are too far removed from the earth and our food and where it comes from. I plan to raise our future children to be greatful for and understand where our food comes from as well. Living this way does create a closer connection to God, for me anyways :) We will have a few more roosters to do this fall, as well as 3 hogs and a steer.

  4. Your gonna have one full freezer this Fall!

  5. I remember being a little girl at grandma and grandpa's farm and watching grandpa "harvest the chickens". I was so grossed out I wouldn't eat any chicken for dinner. I was a city girl. Thanks for your post and thoughtful words! As my grandpa would have said "that rooster had it commin"! Vickie


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