I took my last group of 2017 cockerels up-Island last week, seven big ones to freezer camp and eight scrawny ones to be donated to the wildlife refuge.
Butchered at 22 weeks, they averaged between 1.5 and 2 kilos each, dressed. The smallest was a Cream Legbar at one kilo, and the biggest was a Plymouth Barred Rock who weighed in at two and a half.
This was our second batch of freezer camp boys for 2017. It feels good to eat our own homegrown meat, but I still can’t take it lightly. Every year, on the drive up, I have plenty of time to muse…about the food chain, and the circle of life, and the fate of chickens generally speaking in the whole scheme of things. I feel compelled to justify my actions to myself.
I know these birds. I hatched them and raised them and fattened them. I brought them into this world and I am taking them out of it. I like to eat meat and my family does too. That’s just the way it is. I make my choices, and I live with them, and that’s just life.
I jointed all but the big guy, froze the pieces on cookie sheets and then bagged them. The backs and necks I saved to make broth. As I cut up each carcass, I scooped out and set aside the saddles. Those two little discs of meat are the best morsels on the whole bird, my mom always told me, and she was right. For dinner that night we had a chicken saddle curry, and it didn’t escape me that every single bird was represented in that one dish. Such is the fate of a thoughtful carnivore.