Two weeks ago, early in the morning, my mother and I dropped our chickens off to be butchered. Later that day we picked them up, individually wrapped in bags, cleaned and ready to go in the freezer. This is not a surprise. It is not out of left field. It was planned from the very beginning. I ordered six male birds that were being raised for meat. Since May, I worried about it. I second guessed it. I even joked about it. But in the end, I went through with it. And last weekend we had some family over to sit down and enjoy a home-raised chicken dinner with us. During this week, the leftovers were turned into much needed chicken soup.
I wasn't sure what all to go into in this post. The specifics? The ethics? The taste? The emotions? I'll spare you all the mundane details about my diet journey but I will say I spent the bulk of my twenties as a vegetarian (even a few years as a vegan) which only adds to people's varied reactions when learning about what I'm doing now. Some people are confused, others are proud and, yes, some are even humored by it. As of now I'm trying to find a happy place with my dietary choices (both nutritional and ethical) but I'm very grateful for this step, raising and eating happy, healthy chicken.
To transport the birds, we borrowed a crate from a friend who also raises chickens. When picking it up, my Mom and I expressed a little doubt and worry about this whole process. Emotionally, would we be able to handle it? He reminded us that these chickens lived their lives experiencing only one bad day: their last. I feel very confident that I can stand by that statement. I gave them the best life I could. (In fact many people think the chickens here are overly spoiled.) Overall, it was great experience, from start to finish, and I plan to do it again next year but on a larger scale.
(The photos above are from a few weeks ago when we first let them outside to roam around the yard. The remaining birds now go out every evening for a few hours when they aren't as prone to wander too far and I'm around to listen for any trouble.)