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 thatÂ responsibilityÂ 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, Â 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.