| Main |

May 24th, 2011

Boyz in the Woods

There’s a tangled stretch of forest along the Hudson River, flanked on both sides by a rural cemetery and an imposing power plant, where I go to release roosters that have out-crowed their welcome at the Farm.

Danny Boy, strutting and fretting his hour upon the stage.


Danny Boy, a flamboyant , lustful dandy, whose crow had matured to an ear splitting shrill, was the latest cock to walk. We boxed him up with some scratch and straw for the road, and took him on a two mile ramble to a release point in the shadow of the power plant’s massive stacks (apparently, Danny, the pipes were calling).  He hopped out of he truck, and without so much as a parting glance, made for the scrub. Maybe he hooked up with some of the Farm’s other ne’er-do-well fugitives who’ve made camp in these woods.  I imagine them all hanging out in a rough covey, smoking cigars, trash-talking Stonegate, and plotting my comeuppance.

A year ago I went to set loose a bantam black frizzle rooster that had a habit of launching into my son like a feathered football, talons blazing.  As I pulled off the road and opened the truck door, ready to release, a figure emerged from the woods. I quickly pulled my anxious cockerel back into the cab, and the figure did the same. Turns out it was my marathon-running neighbor who’d stopped for a pee break. We were both rattled when caught in flagrante with our boys out.

The truth is, I just can’t take the crowing.  It cuts right through my brain like some avian scalpel. Roosters are eye candy, to be sure, but also a sonic ear-sore. This is where my hard-wired urban DNA falters, where I’d rather hear a garbage truck at 4:00 a.m. than a rooster crow. Try as I might, I’m just not 4-H enough (I don’t think yelling “shut the H up” repeatedly counts).

A friend with goats and chickens and horses usually pulls me aside when we have dinner at his place and proudly lets me know – out of his children’s earshot – that we’re devouring one of his hapless bucks or chickens he’d just butchered (I always check to make sure the horses are accounted for). He has his farm-to-table merit badge for meat, which I secretly envy.

Quince in flower in the orchard.  We’ll settle for beauty in bloom, not blood.


Even among small farm foodies, there’s a hierarchy:  Heirloom seed savers vs. seed buyers, double diggers vs. topsoil tillers, preservers vs. seasonal eaters, animal butchers vs. coddlers, goat milk teat squeezers vs. the rest of us. Everyone has his own sustainability threshold.

A visit with food activist and urban farmer Novella Carpenter at her farm in San Francisco last Fall raised the sustainability bar even higher.  Every critter and cucurbit on her property was destined for the table: rabbits, goats, piglets, ducks. She made me feel like small farm charlatan, with no blood beneath the nails.  I eat meat, after all, shouldn’t I harvest it?  And if I’m not doing meat to teat, am I somehow not measuring up?

The orchard hens are grateful for my aversion to the on-site abattoir, and maybe even for Danny’s departure. Perhaps the loss a preening, crowing Lothario is a relief.  No more being taken by the scruff every morning and subjected to the tremor and spasm of an oversexed male. They seem to be carrying on fine without him, and since I don’t speak chicken, their pining would be lost on me. The henhouse flutters forth, with all inhabitants content to putter and scratch in the dirt, just like me.   – Mb

Tags: , ,






OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image