Yes, Tess is holding a chicken upside down. And, she's answering the judge's questions about the chicken's vent (butt). This nice buff Orpington lays nice creamy eggs. When she gets old, she'd be destined for the pot to make amazing broth. I don't remember what happened to this particular girl, but she was a pretty nice hen as most Orpingtons are.
We like to order a variety of heirloom and exotic laying chickens. Some of them we can't get sexed (one gender or the other), but only come straight run, which is both males and females. We don't want to keep the roosters as long as the hens as they don't lay, end up fighting, and aren't as good to eat when they get older. My husband usually takes the kids to do the deed. One of the times my husband and children went to dispatch the roosters, they encountered one now known as the spaghetti western chicken. Don't read on if you're faint of heart as this is about killing chickens and I don't sugar coat anything.
I watched spaghetti westerns as a child. I remember liking a particular cowboy that showed up in a lot of them - pretty cute but tough and fair. I don't know if I had a crush on him, but I favored those shows even though I had no idea who Clint Eastwood was. I thought the corny over-acting was a hoot, especially the gunfights. I don't know that's it's necessarily over-acting all the time. Modern movies have people get shot or stabbed and then lie on the ground quietly. I'm sure it happens sometimes, but my experience is a lot of people moan and move around. I digress ...
Our mix of chickens this particular year included a few freebies from the breeder, which means they tossed in a few extra chicks of varieties we didn't order and I think they do this just for fun. It usually happens when we order larger groups of chicks. This year we got our ugliest chicken that turned out to be a rooster. It was a black frizzle, I think, but SO UGLY. It's feathers were a bit thin, and frizzles don't have normal feathers. They look like bed head hair instead. This rooster had a partial ball of feathers on his head and a really big butt. His feathers were black, his skin was black, even his beak and legs were black. The black isn't a problem - I have had a black horse, black cats, black dog - but this little rooster didn't pull it off.
There were other roosters of a variety of breeds. Brandon went up to the coop with the kids in the fenced orchard. They would help him catch the roosters, he'd ring their necks very thoroughly, and then drop them in a pile to bring back for cleaning to give them to me in the kitchen. (I'm not opposed to doing this myself, but I have not been as good or humane at it. I think a guillotine would be nice to compensate, or just a sharp axe, I suppose, but this bloodless ringing of necks ... I'm missing that gene. I need more practice but that's not something you practice on the living and I haven't taken the time to practice on something else, though I am good with a knife ...) Just in case anything went awry, Brandon had a gun to end things quickly ... with the chickens not the children.
For those of you who don't know, chicken feet and heads are actually quite fun for kids. Sure it may be morbid if you don't already know about this, but I remember for some reason having a foot as a child and pulling the tendons to make it grab a hold of my sisters or pick things up, probably to pull their hair. It's great fun every child should try.
The removed heads I hear are also fun, that if you have a little pile of them they may disappear as boys or non-skittish girls take them and play with them. I'll admit I didn't experience this as a child, but we learned something fun to do.
When Brandon rings the necks of chickens, he would swing and snap them like normal, sort of like snapping a towel. To ensure a good kill, he'd give them an extra swing and snap, which would make their necks extend quite a bit. There's no blood involved, but they do flap around and have involuntary movements as the brain is disconnected from the body. It's quick and seems painless, though I couldn't say for sure. Things were going well.
They caught and rung the neck of the ugly black frizzle when Brandon realized dead chickens talk. The way he held it just happened to work really well - he'd squeeze the neck a little and it's open its mouth with it's tongue sticking out. He make it talk to the kids and they laughed and laughed. No one remembers what he had it say, but apparently it was pretty funny. After a moment the killing resumed. I don't know how many we had total, maybe fifteen or so.
It wasn't long at all before the black frizzle rooster jumped up from the pile of roosters with a very wobbly head and long spaghetti neck that had partially contracted but not fully. He looked around a bit dazed and ran drunkenly away toward the chicken coop. He didn't run too straight, but he made it along the far side between a fence and the coop.
Brandon decided to shoot the sole escapist. He lined up and shot him in the chest - right in the heart, I'm told. The chicken was supposed to drop to the ground, but instead he staggered out like a bad actor from a spaghetti western. He staggered and staggered before falling down dramatically. It wasn't enough, so the rooster got up again, staggered around dramatically for too long again. As bad as it may be, they all stood there laughing at the drama and made me wish I had gone out with them. Who knew the spaghetti westerns had dying chicken down right!
Wife to Brandon, mother to Tess and Liam, farmer, entrepreneur, cook & baker, nurse, and accountant who loves to try new things, travel, and work toward greater self-reliance.