I have always left the animal killing up to someone else, but there’s a first time for everything, and I’m a lot older and harder than I used to be. Since we have had hens I have grown quite fond of the stupid things, with their wiggly bottoms and seemingly brainless beady eyes.
One of them was looking sicker by the day so I asked Gilbert to help me. He muttered something about getting a herbal remedy and trying that first.
I didn’t want the other hens to get sick and I didn’t want to leave any problems behind for Monie. This hen was one of the first batch of hens we had got and I had my suspicions as to their age. Somehow they didn’t seem like pullets to me. I was pretty sure this was an old hen when I got her.
I had been mulling over what to do for a few days as her condition worsened. I read all my reference books on how to decide if a hen should stay or go. I’d watched U-Tube on how to dispatch as humanely as possible, and I had been steeling myself for the event. Then today I went down and saw her head hanging listless and seeming to struggle to breathe. Striding in with no second thoughts I picked her up by her feet and decided it was now. Everybody was out so if it went horribly wrong I didn’t have the children watching over me. Anne was due out for coffee to talk about gardening while we were away, so I texted her.
“Ever killed a hen?” I asked casually in a text….”Um, No” was the reply. Right I thought, better get it done then. I had decided I would use the axe as I couldn’t see me do the neck breaking/strangulation thing. I had watched Gilbert do that once to a cocky rooster and he had pulled the whole head off and to our horror he dropped him and he ran around headless for ages, the rooster not Gilbert, tho he was a little distressed also, which was not funny at all. Hunting high and low for the axe, I finally texted and phoned Gilbert, but got no reply.
Simone phoned then and said she would be later home than she had expected. “No problem” I cheerily answered…all the while holding the hen. I then spotted Goong’s old, big and heavy chopper knife hanging on Gilbert’s shed wall. I tested the weight as I lifted it down. Carefully checked the edge was sharp. Found a stump down the back by the orchard and tested the ‘smack!’ into the stump. They said to practise with rolled up newspaper, but now I was holding the hen, this wasn’t going to be possible.
I found an old bucket and lined it with a plastic bag ready for her, then holding her up by her feet her head tipped on a side angle, just like they said she would, and laid her neck on the block. Everything was ready. She looked up at me with her beady eyes and without a moments hesitation I whacked the chopper down and was sure her neck was well and truly broken. I had heard myself make a gutteral sound as I did it but I was numb to any feeling as I lifted her into the bucket to catch the blood. I was surprised at my lack of remorse. This was first degree meditated murder.
I knew her nerves would continue to kick and I held her till she stopped and I have to say this was the worst part. While it was horrible I somehow felt like a pioneer woman, a strong and self sufficient woman. Though I did feel a bit sorry for the hen, I was glad I could put her out of her misery when I needed to.
Coming back up I found a dead hedgehog. Yay! Another dead animal for the freezer ready for a couple of fruit trees I wanted to plant in August. I cleaned the chopper. Popped the bags into a box and labeled it… Dead Animals-Don’t Open!
Must tell SImone so she doesn’t freak out when she’s looking for sausages…