Homesteading Dilemma

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins that He might rescue us from the present evil age in accord with the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Galatians 1:3-5)

It feels almost like a sacrilege to write a piece of Scripture wishing peace on everyone when I’m contemplating what I consider the unthinkable: culling animals. Three out of the four chicks born last August are cockerels. No, the vegetarian isn’t going to butcher them. More likely, see if I can find a couple of farms that might need a rooster to protect their flock of hens; they’re super valuable that way. But I have too many now. And, worse, the three younger roosters are ganging up on Sargent Feathers.

Sargent Feathers, to jog everyone’s memory, has been recuperating from frost-bitten wattles in my kitchen for the last month. His lady friend, Taffy, has been keeping him company but, now that he is healed, it’s time to put him back outside. So, this past week, he and Taffy have been in the same cage but that cage was relocated to the barn. I wanted everyone to get used to their presence again before releasing them as they’ve been “gone” for too long and a slightly different pecking order has been established…in the form of three young cockerels thinking they now rule the roost. No super aggression exhibited towards the cage and its inhabitants. In fact, Goldie recognized her boy immediately and has been sleeping atop the cage to be closer to him. So, this morning, I let them out for a little while, staying close to them…just in case.

And it’s a good thing I did.

First, Radar came strutting over. (PS I have a naming system here at The Herbal Hare Homestead. Roosters get named for something military. Hence, Sargent Feathers, Corporal Denim, Tank, Radar, MIG and Hummer; the last three formerly K.C., Shelly and Pat before their gender was confirmed) I stepped between them and Radar ran back towards the flock (these young cockerels are not at all aggressive towards humans; they’d make a nice addition to another barnyard where there’s no competition for control); Sargent Feathers stayed near the barn door and let out a good, lusty crow. Amazing to see the loyalty of that barnyard. More than half of the ladies and Tank, my Silkie rooster, who has no aggression or seeming desire for dominance at all, came racing over to his side. That gave Sargent Feathers some confidence, I think. He started chirping and clucking right along with them, a sort of chicken celebration: “Yay! He’s back!”

Then Hummer came strutting over. I stepped towards him. He raced back.

Mom and I have been considering maybe we should put Sargent Feathers, Taffy and Goldie in with the ducks; they’ve all grown up together and get along fine (except for Dweezil’s lusty advances on Prudence…). And it may be an option. But I think more of the flock will want to be in the old coop with them instead of free-ranging and why should Sargent Feathers give up his turf? Or the bulk of his flock?

The light bulb went on in my head (I think it had a short in it though…).

How would the cockerels do with the ducks until I can either re-stock with more females, essentially making another flock, or figure out what to do with them otherwise? So I caught one–MIG–and put him in the coop.

Nope. That’s not going to work.

Duncan and Dweezil surrounded him in a heartbeat. They know and love Sargent Feathers; this guy was an intruder. I let him back out again before it got ugly.

To make a long story short, Sargent Feathers and Taffy are temporarily back in their cage. Tonight, I may let the ducks co-habitat with the chickens and goats again, and while they are quietly roosting, grab the young cockerels and put them in the old coop where the ducks have been. Though Dweezil gets a little too familiar with some of my chickens, they can flutter up onto their roosts to escape his attentions (or Chester’s back; Prudence’s place of refuge…who would’ve thought such a bond between goat and chicken could exist); Sargent Feathers has nowhere to go to escape a three onto one situation that his old bones can never hope to win…no matter his level of confidence–and there was one point this morning where he strutted and then jumped right in the middle of the three, intent on re-establishing his authority. That’s when I rescued him from said suicide mission and put him back in his cage; he can re-establish authority after the young boys are cooped away from him and, possibly, find a good home where they can lead their own flock of ladies.

But I hate having to make this decision.

And, even as I type this, I am remembering that old roll of fencing behind the coop and the old gate…maybe it’s time to build another coop…and, yes, create another flock. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

May God bless you & keep you!

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11 thoughts on “Homesteading Dilemma

    • It can be a challenge. Right now the ducks are bunking in the main part of the barn with the goats and most of the chickens (my poor hens; I have four of them the ducks just won’t leave alone but as it’s snowing, they’ll likely stay up on the roost so the ducks won’t be able to bother them…); the three cockerels are in the duck side of the barn (separate entrance going out to fenced coop) until I figure out how I might resolve this without having to send them off to someone’s freezer. They keep me hopping! =)

    • Hello, Kiwihomesteading,
      Thank you for saying “no reasonable person” as it cannot be a pleasant task, or decision, to make for anyone. And, while I know there isn’t anything in the Bible that condemns the taking of an animal’s life for food, for humane purposes, or for self-defense, etc., for myself, it is something I would not feel comfortable doing at all. As a vegetarian, that is definitely the last resort. And, actually, since writing this post, I’ve decided to keep my extra roosters. They have been placed into individual pens temporarily while I work to build them each their own run. I also purchased a few pullets for each to join them once said ladies are old enough to join them. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Again, thank you for taking the time to respond.

      Lisa

  1. Here is what I intended on posting prior to the glitch in wordpress!

    I wish I had a little more time to write you a more extended comment. However, my life is fairly busy at the moment, so I’ll leave you with a shortened one. No reasonable person would ever feel right about slaughtering an animal. Death is difficult to see and even more difficult to do. However, there is nothing biblically immoral or unjust about killing an animal for its meat. You see, God himself in Genesis 9 gave us creatures for sustenance just as He did the plants of the earth before the fall. Animal death was one of God’s ways of pointing out the fact that a penalty is required to forgive the sin of the fall of humankind (Exodus 12).

    So the death of animals points to three facts; one, that there is a break between man’s relationship with God. Two that our separation from God affects our ability to govern creation. And thirdly that the true death that brought humanity back into relationship with God was the death of Jesus (Romans 5:8-19).

    The fact remains that whether one is a vegetarian, a vegan, an omnivore, or an herbivore. They are all dependant on how one feels on a spiritual level. However, if you think God is leading you to kill an animal because its life would otherwise be unsustainable or a burden on your farm, remember that God placed them in your life just as He gave Adam guardianship over the earth. Your fall is justified by Christ’s death just as Adam’s was. Animal husbandry is one small part of God’s purposes for us. Be at peace, knowing full well that God gave us Jesus to justify our fallen nature and to bring us back into a relationship with Him!

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