A side benefit of my hands-off farming is an over abundance of roosters. When my chickens go broody, I let them brood. That alone separates my chickens from the typical commercial chicken; mothering is largely missing from modern hen. The Orphingtons tend be good mothers and the Americaunas acceptable, and once each summer a few will set down and parent.
The chicks will be half boys as children tend to be, and eventually they grow to pests. I like my senior rooster well enough, a gentle green giant I call “The Old Man”, as one would refer to the captain of a ship. The teen males harass then hens, fight incessantly and will get into mischief. This year their are three offspring of The Old Man and various hens; the first spurred me a week ago as I went about my business and became the first casualty of the winter cull.
On a quiet day as I plucked gold feathers in the rain I felt as though I was looking back in time. This was your Grandmother’s chicken; no giant flabby breasts or warped, misshapen legs. Cornish cross chickens are so hybridized that the males cannot get past their own giant chest muscles to mate. By eight weeks they are barely able to walk and butchering them seems a mercy. By contrast the bird in my hand is a half year old, yet firm and compact; the white meat set well into the bone, the legs long and lean from a lifetime of walking. It would make a sad roast but within lean muscle is layered with silken fat, as opposed to a sedentary animal where the fat lays above the muscle under the skin. The dark meat is rich and nearly duck-looking, and plentiful compared to the rather sparse white flesh. A sad roast but a great soup, so after chilling for a few hours he goes to the pot to slowly melt into broth.
Today was not so quiet but the broth was done and with rice and corn soup was ready for dinner. Opinions varied, as they often seem to but at least I enjoyed it and their is plenty for lunch. The smell is buttery below the spices; there is no way to get this food without long labor and some patience. We have gained much in the modern world; I can reasonably assume all my children will reach adulthood. My stepson recovered in a week from an appendectomy that left a scar no bigger than a quarter. But our food has suffered from industrialization. Stores filled with aisles of flabby meat wrapped in only slightly-less appetizing plastic.
Truth be told I would rather stay home and make bread and soup than work, but the world is what it is and this is the exception more than the rule. So I stir the golden sheen-coated onion into the mix with rice. An hour later in goes the meat and cilantro along with lime. Not every day can smell this good; but certainly some days should .