Even birds agree; they are for eating. It must be a simple life, born into a world where your purpose is determined before you are an egg. I’m not talking about religion or faith here, I am talking about chickens (and other birds).
With the temperatures dipping well below zero (-15F) for a while, I haven’t gotten out to clean the loft in more than a week. When pigeon poop freezes to plywood, you can forget it! I have recently picked up an additional job, which has been eating into my DIY projects, but nonetheless I push forward with my outlandish backyard excursions. Anyways, the farmer I get raw milk from (yep… thats also legal in Colorado!) had some roosters that needed to be reborn as hens, to me, this means free meat.
Thursday morning, the quintet of singing roosters arrived with my milk delivery. I already had my work cut out for me when my shift at the clock shop was done. Humans are most efficient when we have multiple top priorities. I borrowed a few necessities from my boss, Bob, including a propane tank and a meat cleaver (which I was warned by Bob was too light to get the job done).
Time for the show! Rolling up into the driveway I unloaded the goods and began my work. I cleaned the pigeon loft, and as usual, let the birds fly around outside while I did the deed. There is something you should probably know about pigeons and hawks in my area.
In the summer time, most of the pigeon eating birds of prey live higher in elevation. That is why I can get away with training dogs using homing pigeons here in the warmer months. The grounds I use to train on close once winter starts showing its teeth. The parks and wildlife division do this for migrating animals, from deer and elk to falcons. Last winter, we had osprey and bald eagles make their winter home along the river here in town. I wasn’t letting my pigeons fly then because they weren’t trained yet and would likely fly away. We have red tailed hawks year round in town, but they don’t seem to bother with pigeons. I have even released pigeons around gliding red tails with no issues.
With the roosters outside of my garage and the pigeon loft clean, my attention turned towards the greater task of beheading, scalding, plucking and gutting the roosters. While preparing a few things inside, I heard buckawking and other general sounds of bird panic. When I got outside, fifteen feet away from me was a hawk – pigeon in grasp. I only got a look at its tail and have narrowed the species down to just a few: coopers, sharp shinned or goshawk. My money is on coopers or sharp shinned.
When the hawk saw me and flew away, I was worried my best pigeon had been falcon chicken. Fortunately for me, the feathers were either those of my best pigeon, or those of my worst. so I had a 50/50 chance. In nature, it is survival of the fittest, and the weakest of a pack is usually lost to predators. This helps maintain healthy animal herds, etc, etc, etc. I think it was not a coincidence then, that the pigeon I was planning on culling this spring, was the one that met its fate by falcon.
A coincidence indeed, however, is the chosen kill spot; right next to my chicken chop-block. It might seem off balance to find spirituality in killing things, but if you are taking it in context of the full circle, it makes the most since. With death we find life. The lessons? Chickens are definitely for eating… a simple life? Yes. A Simple death? Hopefully you have a heavier meat cleaver.