I am looking forward to a Sunday evening when I am not butchering livestock in my backyard. For the past week I have been trying to find Steve a new home. And to no avail. Sadly, you only need one male for every 20 something females in multiple species, and chickens are included in that formula.

This evening we returned from a vacation to Bend, Oregon, which was lovely and relaxing. However, we knew as we inched closer to Portland that a decision had to be made with our urban flock. Whenever our house-sitting friend would call us, the crowing was a constant background noise. We must have heard a dozen full cockle-doodle-doo’s within an hour of being home.

Steve was a lot harder to say goodbye to than Ed. Steve was much friendlier, from day-old chick to adolescent. He was also the first of the chicks to hop up on us when we would be outside in the yard. Steve’s ending was similar to Ed’s, as I think neither of them suffered too much. I cradled Steve in my arms for a little while, to calm him down. Our hatchet was much sharper this time than last, so one clean swing took his whole head off. I initially thought I wouldn’t watch Jay swing the ax, but in the end I did because it seemed like cheating to not witness things from start to finish.

The cleaning went okay. I didn’t severe the crop this time, but I didn’t do as clean of a job de-gutting the bird. I ended up skinning the meat so I could avoid having to de-quill all the nooks and crannies. It took me probably an hour to prep the bird for the stew pot altogether. A slow job I am sure compared to real farm folk. Reading about the butchering process is not quite the same as first-hand experience.

I doubt Steve’s absence will really affect the girls too much. I tried explaining it to them this evening as they sat on their nesting bars, so I think they will be fine. Pearl probably couldn’t be happier that Steve is gone. Being the top of the pecking order, she was not thrilled to have that order restructured. And the bigger Steve became, the less of a hold Pearl had on overseeing the whole flock. I witnessed her actually being chased around the run by Steve. Maude and Florence will probably just be relieved for things to settle down and know where they stand.

The coq au vin is simmering away on the stove right now. Honestly, I hope it’s a good long while before I need to butcher another chicken in my backyard. And thank goodness there is extra wine leftover from my recipe. Enough for a toast to Steve.

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Written by Renee Wilkinson