A couple of weeks ago, I told Cliff, "We don't need that rooster any more. I don't want any more baby chicks this year, and that guy is taking up space and eating feed. We could kill him and have a pot of noodles."
Cliff has heard about things that "we" are going to do more than once, and since the baby was here that day, he was pretty sure "we" meant "Cliff". But he is a dutiful husband, and agreed to butcher the rooster. He remembers nothing about the process we went through with the eight-week-old chickens in May of 2013, since he was sick as a dog, had tubes coming out of him, and seriously thought he was going to die.
I told him, "You will have to chop his head off, because it won't come off easy like those young chickens. But just skin him, so "we" won't have to pluck feathers, and it shouldn't be too difficult.
The baby and I went out to check on him a couple of times. He didn't look too happy. Later, he brought the carcass in, soaking in a bucket of clean water, informing me that it wasn't easy to skin the old bird. So evidently, that's something that only works with young poultry.
I heated up a big pot of water, and while it was getting to the boiling point, I Googled "how to cook an old rooster". The first site I clicked on said to boil him for six hours and he would be fine. Wow, seriously? Six hours? Oh well, I can do that.
The water boiled, I put the rooster in, and then went back to the computer to see what other people suggested for cooking an old rooster. Oh boy. Everybody says I should have let him age in the refrigerator for two days, because if you cook a chicken immediately after the kill, rigor mortis has set in and he will be tough. And then they all said to cook him for a couple of hours.
"Well," I told Cliff, "maybe cooking him for six hours will make up for us not putting him in the refrigerator for two days."
Cliff didn't look too happy. I said, "I remember Mother always killed chickens on Saturday that she was going to fry on Sunday. That's only one day."
Cliff said nothing.
So I checked the rooster after three hours. He was tough. My spirits soared, though, when after five hours I poked a fork in the bird and the meat literally came off the bone.
"Ah-HA! We'll have noodles tomorrow."
Unfortunately, when I tried to eat a bite of the meat that fell off the bone, it was stringy, and I couldn't chew it.
I saved the broth, which was very tasty, and froze it. The pigs got the bird and were grateful. When it's time to get rid of my old laying hens this fall, I will offer them for sale on Craigslist for $5 each, and if I get no response, I will offer them free. If I get no takers at that point, they will be sacrificed, but not butchered and eaten. There will be no more old birds dressed for eating at Woodhaven Acres.
Thank You, God, that I wasn't born in the olden days when my life depended on killing chickens for meat. I have a new admiration for my mother, my aunts, and my grandma, none of whom sent their clueless husbands out to kill a chicken while they watched a baby. They did the deed themselves, and did it well.