Oh, Rats!

We thought they were too cute to be rats.  We thought we had field mice eating from our compost pile.  We were wrong.


It turns out that we are feeding a growing family of rats who have taken up residence between our fence and our neighbors.  My valiant husband is on a mission to protect our home and chickens from them.  Nasty creatures…too bad they’re so cute.

Gertrude and Lobelia

Our first two chickens.

Yesterday, Katie and I went over to my friend Nathan’s house and with his help, humanely slaughtered our chickens and processed them.

This was the first time I have ever killed a chicken, and I was anxious about it because I didn’t know how exactly to do it in such a way that the chicken would feel the least pain.  I read in Joel Salatin’s book, Pastured Poultry Profits, that I should cut the arterial vein in the neck, being careful to avoid the windpipe so the chicken wouldn’t go into shock, and then chicken’s nervous system would pump out the blood and the chicken would quickly expire.

So that is what I did, while Katie and Nathan held the chicken upside down, and then we skinned the chicken so we didn’t have to scald and pluck the feathers off.  Katie did splendidly and was so helpful, and without Nathan’s experience, we would have been befuddled certainly.

It was somewhat hard for me to kill our chickens because they are living creatures that God has made, and they had provided us with many eggs, many hours of entertainment (and toil and frustration), and if we kept letting them live could have survived for many more years potentially.

But as Katie pointed out, our Lord made these creatures for our benefit, and we honor them even in death by letting them serve us as food with their bodies.

I’ve eaten hundreds if not thousands of chickens in my life, yet I have had no idea how those chickens lived nor how they were slaughtered–if I cannot slaughter a chicken then how do I justify eating them all the time?  My friend Nathan pointed out the same reasoning to me when he first slaughtered one of his chickens.

We would have let these old chickens live longer, but unfortunately they never accepted the new chickens into their flock, and when we put them all in the coop together to try to let them work things out, the older chickens would mercilessly peck the younger ones, and the younger ones would be panicked and bloody themselves on the chicken wire of the coop as they tried to escape the attacks.  With foster children hopefully coming soon, we couldn’t have the younger chickens running loose in the backyard all day, leaving droppings everywhere, and so we decided that we needed to slaughter the older chickens.

If God calls Katie and I to start a farm one day, we will be raising animals and slaughtering them regularly to provide good food for ourselves and for other families.  This was a good opportunity to have a trial-run and see whether we have the fortitude to be farmers–I think that we just might!