Last night Davyd and Jonathan loaded up the roosters into a container Davyd had constructed from chicken wire and two by fours. This morning he hopped in his truck, roosters covered in the truck bed, and drove off to Greene.
Normally we have our chickens processed in West Gardiner, which is right next door. This year though they were booked until December! Raising chickens must be really taking off here in Maine.
This evening Davyd stopped at home, unloaded the empty chicken wire box, and re-loaded the truck bed with a cooler and empty box. Then back in the truck he went to Greene and returned home a little over an hour later with a bed full of nicely individually packaged birds.
Baby Gwyn and I helped him lug them down to the basement, and into the freezer they went, one by one. Davyd checked the weight listed on each bag and tried to guess which bird it had been.
While he was gone, Gwyn and I were swinging in the hammock beside the stream reading Peekaboo Baby and Sophie's Busy Day. We could hear one rooster crowing back near the garden and one out in the field. Davyd decided to keep these two in hopes of being able to hatch our own chicks. The crowing sounded sad and forlorn. The two roosters were definitely looking for the rest of their flock.
One of the roosters we kept we call Elvis. He has gray and black feathers that go all the way down his legs and look like Elvis-style bell bottoms. He is also a prolific crower. He has an Elvis-lookalike female partner who we also kept. In our batch of heirloom roosters, we did end up with one or two hens. These three birds got re-located to the pole barn with the rest of the hens last night. They seem to be settling in, but we did have to trek out to the field to bring in Elvis tonight. There he was, sitting all alone in the rooster house waiting to be put to bed.
The other rooster whose life was spared was Lancelot. Margaret nursed him back to health the day he arrived in the mail as a baby chick. She held him close to her skin most of the day to keep him warm. She couldn't bear to send him to the processor. Davyd's sister Claire offered to take him in with her flock in Farmington and he is now happily living with them.
We knew this day had to come, but I must admit that it was emotional heading out to the field this evening to get Elvis and seeing the empty rooster house.
It probably won't hurt so much eating delicious free range chicken all winter.