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Every morning, I’m up early, not through choice but because my spaniel Twix seems to have a built in alarm clock ! 6am and he’s awake, which in turn, as far as he’s concerned, means I have to be too ! So the morning ritual begins, let dogs out, put kettle on, feed the chickens and pick up the dog mess in the garden ! Glamorous I know !
Anyway on with the point of this blog, chickens ! We acquired 10 chickens by mistake in April, (misunderstanding in communication with our neighbour ) and as they were only around 6/8 weeks old, we hadn’t a clue as to how many were cockerels. Turns out we had 5 ! Beautiful as they were and as much as I enjoyed hearing them practice their cocker-doodle-dooing every 5 minutes, they were fighting and attacking my hens. Didn’t know, never having chickens before, just how aggressive they can be. Well this particular morning they we being extremely aggressive, so much so, one of my hens was getting a right bashing. Nothing for it but to get rid of 4 of my cockerels. Not a decision I made lightly but one that had to be done I’m afraid.
As Andy or I had never killed a chicken before, we had to ask our neighbours for help. To be honest I didn’t want to be a part of it but my neighbour left me no choice as she insisted I help her catch them, not Andy, me !
Our 5 hens and the remaining cockerel were put inside and the remaining, doomed cockerels were put in the run were my neighbour ( 80 years old ) and myself preceded to catch them. Easier said than done ! They were certainly not going to go quietly ! It took about 10 minutes and a few scratches to finally round them up, then we all set off to our neighbours where the dreaded deed was done.
It was very quick and humanely done but, for me, still not a pleasant encounter. I tried hard not to look but as I was holding 2 of them it was difficult not to get the odd glimps. I felt pretty bad as I was the one that took care of them every day but it had to be done.
Once the worse was over, we all sat on little stools whilst we plucked the feathers. Andy didn’t quite get it right and ended up pulling half the skin off !
Our neighbour did all the gutting etc, not the easiest job, but she did it with expertise and I was quite impressed ( also glad I didn’t have to do it as it was pretty rank !). Every part of the birds were saved and bagged up in their own individual bags ready for the freezer. My face must have been a picture as my neighbour included the head and feet in the bags, I’m afraid there was no way I wanted a chicken head to end up on my plate ! They also gave us all the intestines etc for us to feed to dogs but I’m afraid that was definitely not going to happen either. Those parts were eventually disposed off discreetly so as not to offend our neighbours.
When we eventually finished we tried to give our lovely neighbours one of the chickens as a thank you but they refused and thought we were crazy ! The following day I made them some jam, a cake and gave a bucket of plums as a way of thanking them which seemed to make them happy.
As much as I didn’t feel good about killing our cockerels, we did enjoy our day with our neighbours, not just because we enjoy their company but because we always leave with a little more knowledge and understanding of everyday life in Bulgaria .
As for my frozen chickens, well it took a lot for me to eat one but I did and it was tasty but I think, in future , I’ll just stick to eating their eggs ! 🙂

A Gift from our Neighbour

On Sunday the neighbours daughter came round to give us a gift due to the fact it was Easter. It was a basket of dyed eggs and sweet bread, a Bulgarian tradition at Easter time. Luckily for us she spoke English, so we were able to say thank you properly rather than just nodding and smiling! What a lovely gesture!

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