Saturday, 17 March 2012

Country Life.




No sooner has the farmer finished spreading the slurry from our neighbour's slurry tank than the 'big one' arrives. Yes, the farmer has hired the giant muck spreader for the day in order to attack the 'muck heap'. This is the serious stuff piled up in the field since he cleaned out the loose housing half way through the winter. When he did this, if you remember, the cats were mightily put out as they used to sit in the loose housing watching for any little mouse that dared to show its face. They also knew that manure of that depth heated up, so it was a nice warm place to sit on a cold day.
Since it has been lying in the pasture the sheep have been using it for climbing practice. Any day now they will be going back to the fells, so they need to perfect their climbing skills again having spent their entire Winter on flat ground. So today, when Tess and I walk round the fields, we shall have to watch where we go, otherwise we shall be hit by flying muck.

Rabbit holes are multiplying daily and baby rabbits are appearing. The two are connected as rabbits usually scrape out a new hole for breeding. Their Winter quarters will have become quite smelly and rubbishy, so new beds are needed for the birthing of the litter. I think all animals are the same really - gettings one's quarters ready is an instinctive part of the breeding process.

The marmalade I made has been put away in the cupboard. There is something quite satisfying in stacking six jars away in the jam cupboard. It is a bit of a chore to make and even more of a chore to wash up the preserving pan afterwards but putting the marmalade into the cupboard makes it all seem worthwhile.

My four cockerels remain shut in their housing. They seem quite happy although they are quite aggressive when the farmer goes in to feed them in the mornings. The trouble is that they eat such a small amount and therefore they are not getting fat. The question is - what do we do with them? Do we kill them one by one and put them out for the fox - Mrs Fox will have cubs now and will always be on the look-out for food; do we kill them and prepare them for eating and then casserole them - that way it might not matter that they were skinny - or do we kill the four all at once and bury them? One thing is for sure - I have asked around and nobody wants a cockerel, we can't let them out because they would just fight their father for supremacy over the hens, and we can't keep them forever. A dilemma. What is the answer? Solutions on a postcard please.

18 comments:

Heather said...

It seems a shame that your cockerels should have lived for nothing, so either your casserole dish or Mrs.Fox's cubs would be my answer.
When you spread homemade marmalade on a slice of toast, all the fiddle of making it is worthwhile!
It's fascinating that nearly every living creature prepares a clean environment for the arrival of it's babies. We share so many basic instincts.
Stay safe from flying muck!!

Tanya @ Lovely Greens said...

I certainly hope no one eats me when I pass on in order to make my own life good for something ;)

The MSPCA on the Isle of Man is packed to the gunnels with roosters. No one wants them but then again no one seems to want to do the deed either. It's a tough call but I suppose that's part of animal husbandry? You would know better than me Pat.

Feeding them to the foxes sounds like a risky solution though - the foxes might become bolder and try even harder at taking your hens. I'd use them for stock and casseroles, give them away to a friend who might do the same. If all else fails just bury them.

Tom Stephenson said...

I say - if you're going to kill the cockerels anyway, eat them! Slow Coq au Vin?

Elizabeth said...

Gosh, what a dilemma for a Saturday morning!
Probably coq au vin.....
Love the new spring header.

rkbsnana said...

I guess I don't understand what a cockerel is? Are they not edible just because they are thin.

MorningAJ said...

Absolutely. Stewed chicken!

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I think your right about the instincts of animals about to give birth. We had an old sow once that managed to get out of her pen just before farrowing; we found her in a field having uprooted about half an acre of barley to make a "nest" for her expected litter.

Toffeeapple said...

Definitely use those cockerels for your own food, after all, they have been eating food given by you.

angryparsnip said...

What a choice.
I guess since you live on a farm the best thing to do is to make a Coq au Vin. You mentioned in a earlier post when you found out that you had so many cockerels, they would become a winters dinner.
In my heart I like the idea of letting the Fox eat them but as with all the wild animals that live around me, my brain tells me not to feed them. So they don't become dependent. But I must admit during the super hot summer days I do put out water, especially for the birds.

cheers, parsnip

H said...

You definitely need to make use of those cockerels somehow and I would suggest that your need is more worthy then that of the foxes. You will appreciate a fine chicken dinner; they would be satisfied with a tin of dog food.

Watch out for low flying muck!

Penny said...

I think the best solution is to kill them and if they really are skinny make up a lovely stock with them. Certainly wouldnt feed them to the foxes. But then I live in OZ where the fox is a menace.

elizabethm said...

Well we have tried all sorts and find it really hard to make a good meal out of cockerels unless they are really young and even then they need to be cooked for ages and are still not fab. I am afraid we have given up and kill them off one by one and bury them. This does not suit my desire not to waste anything but does save a whole lot of time in plucking and preparing and pushing the not too edible meat around the plate!

Totalfeckineejit said...

What will you doodle doo?

Beacee said...

Capons? Or is that not done any more?

Pondside said...

I'd be stewing them....

Rachel said...

Wring their necks and bury them.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Cockerels are male chickens. Ours are scraggy. There seems to be mixed ideas and I still don't know which one to follow. Thanks anyway for putting in your two penn'orth.

BilboWaggins said...

Kill all four, make a large batch of Coq au Vin and freeze it. Say 'thank you' to the birds every time you defrost a lovely supper!

I assume Mr Farmer knows how to despatch them quickly and with no suffering, so I'd say the sooner the better before they start fighting amongst themselves.