I was dreading it, but when it came to pass, remembered that I quite enjoyed crating the chickens for slaughter by moonlight.
It has to be done at night, unless you enjoy chasing birds through bushes, and they always seem to be able to hide in the young locust shoots. Spiny, sharp, skin-tearing locusts shoots.
At night, their flight instincts are at war with the need to roost and sleep.
I had to move slow, and was worried that my rechargeable torch was on the low end of the charging scale. But after a while moonlight is just fine.
I’d pick them off one by one. The boys into the crates. (The cockerel’s life is a jolly one, until this day.) The girls into the coop, where they will, eventually, become accepted by the older hens.
I got ’em all up but one hen, who will be fine til the morning.
In previous years, it was fifty at a time, white cornish crosses, one indistinguishable from the other, and they never came out of the portable pen. This year, it’s just about a dozen cockerels, and they’ve had the run of the yard. They are all colors. The dominant line is buff orpington, so a lot of orange birds, but many reds as well, some speckly things (silver-laced wyandottes, perhaps) and a couple with whiskers, whom the kids have dubbed Chipmunk Fur #1 and #2.
They all have names. It’s kind of a sad thing. They put up the most awful fuss when I grab them, but when I squeeze them to my side they calm down so quickly. “We’re going in the crate? Well, OK. Time for some shut-eye.” They trust the farmer.