Video: When the rooster crows…

Fern crowed this week, which means I can officially start calling him Fernando. I was outside in the garden when it happened. And when it did, I was overcome by two very conflicting emotions. I felt a little stressed. His crowing was so loud, announcing to all my neighbors that we have a rooster in our ‘hood. It was like hearing a car alarm that you can’t turn off. There was nothing I could do to stop him. At the same time, I was totally elated being present while this rooster found his voice for the first time. I was standing in the middle of my yard, with the afternoon sun on my shoulders listening to a rooster crow in my backyard. I wanted to stretch out my arms and exclaim in glee, “I have a farm!” There aren’t too many sounds that scream farm like a rooster.


But Seattle urban farmers know that when one of the “pullets” they bought at the feed store turns out to be a rooster, it’s time to spring into action. Roosters, for obvious reasons, are not allowed in the city. So, urban farmers either find a farm where the roo can live out its life or cull the rooster and serve him for dinner.

The thing is, I think there might have been a misunderstanding when I posted a comment about my discovery, saying that I’m going to be a butcher sooner than I thought. I think some folks took that to mean that this is something I’m looking forward to. Slaughtering my chickens is not something I’m excited about, but is a responsibility I accepted the moment I brought chickens into my yard.

I’ve never claimed to be vegetarian though I was once and practically live like one on a daily basis. I have never been vegan, although in our commitment to a thoughtful food life and respect for living things, I think we have a lot in common. What I have shared with you through my blog is my undying passion and enthusiasm to be connected to food, the earth and my community and to understand where my food comes from. And in building that understanding, I’ve come to see that reading labels doesn’t always cut it. It seems that new information comes up all the time that conflicts with our assumptions. Saying a chicken was free-range on a package could mean they had access to a miniscule area of land that they never made it out to anyway. I can tell you a lot more about my chickens.

I can tell you that I lovingly looked after Fernando while he lived in my own bathtub for his first 8 weeks of life. I can tell you that when he got pasty butt as a baby, I held him and gently picked off those pasty bits. I bought the best locally-sourced, organic feed I could and made sure he had fresh food and water every single day. I can tell you that my chicken free ranged because I opened that run door myself and watched him peck around on my grass. I can tell you that when I cull him this week, I will step up and take on that responsibility myself and I will do so in the most loving, humane way I can. I won’t enjoy it. I might even cry, but I’ll be there to respect that sacrifice. That’s more than I can tell you about most of the chickens you get from the store.

So, while it makes me sad to think that some of you might unsubscribe from my page once I take this step on my urban farming journey,  I understand. We all have convictions and sometimes we have to draw the line in the name of what we believe in. What has driven my transformation into becoming a more conscious eater and what continues to be a major focus of this blog is my continued desire to be a more active participant in producing the food that I eat. This step is part of that process. I just hope you know that I don’t take this lightly. With both the chickens and my future meat rabbits, I’m raising them and bringing them to the kitchen table with the utmost respect and love. This, I hope, you understand.

Love always,

Stacy

14 thoughts on “Video: When the rooster crows…

  1. Anna

    Dear Stacey,
    I love your inspiring blog but am usually really rubbish at leaving comments. Just wanted to say that I think you are very brave and I have a lot of respect for the commitment you have to growing your own food – both plant and animal – as lovingly and humanely as you can. I will certainly not be unsubscribing from your blog.

    Reply
  2. The clean eating mama

    I think the world of you. I, along with others I’m sure, was very emotional about the thougt of butchering a pet rooster. But it makes sense to me now. Those chickens, along with others in your urban farm, have lived one of the best lives. Those little animals know you respect them, take care of them and love them. And like you said – having a city farm has rules and you were prepared for that.
    Kudos to you mama hen!

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  3. Rachel Hoff

    I applaud you in being a *responsible* urban farmer. If you keep chickens you MUST be prepared to do this. It’s irresponsible to send a rooster off to a shelter or rescue organization. Sure you can find someone else who will take him but most likely they will eat him and you won’t have control over how humane his death was.

    I also believe you’re being a responsible meat-eater by being a part of the animal’s life and death. Good for you.

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  4. val

    I could not do what you are about to do, but I respect your conviction. I also think you are doing a public service by informing people what raising chickens is about. Even if you only get females, they don’t lay forever… I have heard that animal shelters are receiving a lot of chickens when people realize they could not handle the responsibility. It’s the one thing I am concerned about as my city considers allowing chickens.

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  5. Amy

    I am sad that people are not understanding just how committed you are to your urban farming and how responsible you are in your actions. I seem to remember you talking about this when you first got your chickens…that you knew that one day, you would need to take them to your table and that, although it’d be hard, it was part of the farming you intended to do. Good luck – I bet it will be hard, but it’s your decision and I fully respect that.

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  6. radhi

    as a vegetarian, we digress here. but i do think everyone would gain better perspective & appreciation if they could trace their meat/vegetable/plant from farm to table!

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  7. Tad Hussey

    I think it was great that you took the time to address the concerns raised on your previous post, and very eloquently explained the moral and ethical considerations one must make when they decide to raise chickens. I’m really enjoying your blog! Even for those that make a choice not to eat meat, I hope there is a respect for your compassion and willingness to grow and eat your own food.

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  8. Shane

    I’m in a similar boat to Anna; I don’t feel like I’m good at leaving comments, but I’ve admired your blog and I admire your respect for your flock, even if you need to cull part of it.

    Reply
  9. Spring

    I’ll be interested in the future post after the deed. Vern (formerly Laverne) started crowing this weekend, too. Not such a big deal for us as we don’t have many neighbors, but we already have a rooster and well… we don’t have room for two. I’ve tried to find a good home for him but no one wants a rooster apparently.

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  10. Joanna

    Our Spot, aka “pot pie” crowed and woke up the kids at 5:30 this morning, so he needs to move on. How did you prepare Fernando? I know the taste and texture will be different than store bought.

    Reply
  11. Pingback: Saying Grace and Good-bye to Fernando | Seattle Seedling

  12. Rachel

    Dear Stacey,

    Your blog has been an important part of my journey toward growing food, shopping more locally, reusing my plastic freezer bags, and…becoming a vegetarian. BUT- I have nothing but respect for your decision to be totally connected to and responsible for your consumption of meat. I applaud your courage in sharing your experience with the world, and am sorry for any unkindness that followed you as a result. Please know that you have the respect and support of this stranger!

    Be well,
    Rachel

    Reply

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