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HENNY PENNY AND ALL HER FRIENDS

There's an event that happens on our tiny homestead once a year. It's the time that we butcher our older hens and we move our younger hens into the larger coop. Is it a lot of work? Sure. Is it gruesome to kill and clean a bunch of chickens all at once. To be honest, not really. When we started this journey I had never killed a living thing before, barring spiders that is. I had definitely never butchered an animal in my life, but, that's farming. Every day we go to grocery stores and buy meat that someone killed and prepared for us. I think, in general, society has lost touch with the origins of their food source. It has been an honor for me to get in touch with this reality.

The first year we performed this annual event I was filled with dread and misgivings about how I would feel about the process. In the end, surprisingly, I felt grateful. I felt grateful that these animals had given us sustenance with their eggs and now their meat. I felt grateful that we had given them the best existence we could while they were with us, not mistreating them and keeping them safe from predators. We had fed them well, housed them in a warm and dry home and given them all sorts of healthy treats as the seasons passed. We had talked to them like they were our friends and we had laughed at their antics. We had taken photos and videos and shared them with friends and family. It was a journey we took to get to the soup in the pot. It was an honor to produce our own food in this way.

The day after butchering, cleaning and storing of our older hens is the part I never get tired of. We clean out the larger coop and put in fresh bedding, fresh straw in the nesting boxes, fresh everything and invite the younger hens to move over from their smaller coop where we raised them from babies. The smell of the fresh straw and bedding just makes me happy. It actually fills me with joy. It brings to mind my teen years when I played on the farm across the street. We build forts in the hay and we swung through the barn on an old tire swing. It was a haven when the rain poured outside. I didn't grow up on a farm like my husband did but, for a few years, I spent a lot of pleasant hours lost in the smell of the barn. #chickens #hens #homesteading #butchering



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