Sometimes The Journey Sucks

When I wrote last week’s post about Jasmine and Big Man, I had no, no, no idea that I would be writing this one.

I killed Big Man and Little Man yesterday.

I killed them because my neighbor who complains about everything complained about the roosters crowing. This, in a neighborhood that allows roosters and all other manner of farm animals.  She came over and threatened a lawsuit.  I do not have the energy, the financial resources nor the desire for all that kind of negativity in my life.

Big Man.

Big Man.

So, I consulted YouTube, studied what to do, bought a knife and killed them.  I believe I did a decent, humane job.  Keela and I took their bodies up into the open space and laid them under a big tree.  I visited the tree today and they were gone.  I think of this as my peace offering to the fox who comes round looking longing at the hens in the morning light.

I started this animal-keeping journey as a long-time vegetarian.  Very Excellent Husband Don was one when we met and explained “I don’t want to kill something to eat it and I don’t think it’s right to have someone else do it for me.”  That spoke to me then and still does now.  I DO NOT judge people who feel differently.  And I respect people who can raise animals humanely, then kill them and eat them for dinner.  I just can’t do that.

Little Man.

Little Man.

However, I am well aware there are issues more complex than my complaining neighbor buying a house in the wrong neighborhood.  I’m not stupid.  I can do the math.  If I let my broody hens hatch eggs, those three roosters were going to be six or eight roosters next summer. And double the summer after. And that, my friends, is an untenable situation.  Too many roosters in a barnyard just doesn’t work.  I didn’t actually know that when I got my first baby chicks.  I know that now.

Big Man.

He was so handsome.

But I killed two beautiful roosters yesterday because my neighbor complained.  Both hatched and raised by sweet Jasmine. I can honestly say I was not very attached to Little Man, but that’s no reason to kill him.  I don’t think he had found his groove yet. Some of us are late bloomers.

But Big Man, oh god that was so hard.  I cradled him in my arms, his head slung low between my legs.  I told him how important he was, how honored I was to have known him, how proud I was that he was such a valiant protector of the flock. I said he would be greatly missed.

Unlike the YouTube instructions (and Little Man before him), he did not relax and almost go to sleep in the upside down position.  He looked me square in the eye, his head cocked up, straining.  I stroked his head, I rubbed his neck.  I waited.  I whispered. Nope.  He was not going to make it easy.

GODDAMNIT.  I told him I loved him, slit his jugular and then stuck the knife through his mouth and into his brain. Because that’s how it’s done.

Obviously, people do this all the time without thinking twice. But I feel a little less human today.  This is the price I had to pay to enjoy keeping chickens, to be able to thank the hens for the fresh eggs they provide.  This is now part of my journey.  And it sucks.

Little Man


**Shared at From the Farm,  Tuesdays With A Twist, Maple Hill Hop(mis) Adventures Monday, Thank Goodness It’s MondayClever ChicksHomeAcre Hop and Homestead Hop**


  1. I am so very sorry. Sitting here crying. I can’t even kill mine to put them out of their misery when they are so sick they won’t survive.
    My heart aches for you.

  2. Ellen C. says:

    I am so sorry – sorry this had to be part of your journey, sorry you have such a selfish, priggish neighbor. A very sad situation made somewhat better knowing their little bodies did not go to waste but offered up to wildlife. You faced it head on and should never feel bad about that. The emotions you are feeling is your humanity – something severely lacking in your neighbor.

  3. Oh, Joan, I am so, so sorry for your loss. What you had to go through is just awful! My thoughts are with you. RIP, Big Man and Little Man, you will be missed.

    • Thanks Tia. I appreciate it. I hope all is going well with you and the ducks. Send me some photos sometime, ok? I’d love to see them.

  4. I am so sorry you had to go through this. I’m sorry about your neighbor and I’m sorry Big Man didn’t go int a trance for you. You are such a wonderful human being and barn mama to all. I totally understand about the multiplying of roosters thing and that was a concern here as well and my Laney Man was super mean to a few of my girls. Thankfully I was able to re home with a friend.

    I know you did what was best for your roos and in a humane way, farming is hard. Some days , most days are good but some…. well, some just suck big butt. Sending BIG hugs your way.
    Jen recently posted…Wow…Where Did February Go?

    • Yeah, there was just no place for these guys to go. My farm friend community is pretty small around here. I’m so glad it worked out better for you! I got that hug and passed it around the barnyard. Thanks 🙂

  5. So so so sorry

  6. Marsha Kern says:

    I am so sorry and sorry you have a very selfish neighbor. I love the sounds of my roosters in the morning…

    • All those conversations they would have…my favorite will always be Big Man congratulating the hens, chiming in with their egg-laying song. He was so proud of them.

  7. Joan, So very sorry. For you and for your sweet roos. How can anyone not love the sound of daybreak? How can anyone stand by knowing they selfishly caused the death of an innocent being?
    You are very brave and strong.
    Please know you have many friends sending love and prayers.

    “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
    Mahatma Gandhi

    • Thanks, Figgie. And yes, the sound of a rooster taking care of his girls is music to my ears. Big Man’s sweet call to the ladies when he found something yummy for them to eat was especially wonderful. I will miss that so much.

  8. UGH! I hate this post. I hate my tears and I hate that you felt cornered to make that decision. This journey does suck. I hope your heart heals with time.
    kim recently posted…Baby Clucks

  9. janstollings says:

    So sorry, some people can’t be happy unless they are making others miserable. It’s always hard to loose a pet through natural causes but this must be doubly heartbreaking. Thinking of you this week.

  10. omg…tears. I am so sorry that you had to go through that. Since you are well within your right to keep roosters, I think I would have taken my chances…even with a court appointed attorney. I would think any attorney worth his salt, would have told her she has no case. And I would probably play loud rap music from sunup to sundown to make her realize that she really did like hearing your roosters crow. But, that’s just me. 🙂
    Hugs to you.

    • Yeah, I’ve certainly entertained thoughts like that myself. This is a great neighborhood full of great people. I must have done something bad in a previous life to be stuck with this. Thanks for the hugs. They help 🙂

  11. I am so sorry Joan!! I know that was hard… When Jenny had our one little chick we raised, we ended up realizing it was a rooster… We really did like him… But as it got older he didn’t like Joseph and we couldn’t have him attack, and he did try once, so it was with a heavy heart we had to part with him… Take care!!! Love and hugs!!

    • Thanks, Shirley. Roosters can be unpredictable, unfortunately. My two were nothing but gentleman—that’s what made it so hard 🙁

  12. OMG. What an awful predicament. I weep for what you’ve had to endure because of your love of your critters. You’ve been through so much in the last year and now this. God bless and keep you. Sending you comforting prayers.
    daisy recently posted…Kitchen Organizing Ideas

    • I appreciate that, Daisy. It has been quite the year, but except for this last part, I wouldn’t change a thing. Growing, learning, accepting what gets thrown at me…I love those animals!

  13. Dianne R says:

    Joan- I am usually just another one of your blog lurkers- but today I just had to chime in with my most sincere condolences. Per your earlier comment there is no way this is karma. Just a lousy disrespecting horrible neighbor who has no thought of others but herself. Your beautiful boys pics and their antics will be much missed. I am so sorry for the unbelievably hard to imagine miserable task you had today. BIG HUGS across the miles to you, your family and your feathered girls.

  14. I’m sorry, Joan. I know how much you loved your chickens. Personally, I’d be tempted to drip a little chicken blood on the neighbor’s front steps.
    lisa lynn recently posted…DIY Greek Yogurt

  15. I am so sorry. It really infuriates me when neighbors complain about such things in a neighborhood that allows them. People should know where they are moving before they do. We are not vegetarian, but do believe each animal should be treated respectfully and have a quality of life. At this point, we have not killed and butchered any ourselves for meat. However, we did have to kill our gorgeous roo last year do to a wound that was just too far gone and he was suffering. He was a barred rock and reminds much of your Big Man. I will honestly say my blogging has declined since then as it was depressing and I haven’t gotten my writing groove back yet. It is the circle of life and these things happen, but it doesn’t make it any easier.


    • Thanks, Ann. Yeah, I prefer the fun part of having animals in my life—that’s for sure. Sorry about your roo. I had no idea I’d be so attached to mine. I hope you get your writing groove back soon!

  16. I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful roos
    and that you have to have such a
    selfish neighbor.

  17. My heart is breaking for you. You are so brave, both to honor your boys and to share the tragedy with us. Light to you.

  18. Joan, you are consistently & humanely courageous. Courageous to explore living with beings whom you love unconditionally and, when faced with mishap, adventure and challenge you continue to LOVE.
    Oh the heartbreak of the entire process. Ugh.
    Big Man and Little Man had more dedicated fans and friends than many people!!
    Through your journaling and posting you brought them ‘to life’ with candor and aided their passing with equal and courageous valor.
    You still chose to post and share publically something that I am sure was a hugely personal and private event.
    If you were closer to Atlanta, I would come over with my dog Lumen and give you a big hug and some delicious hummus!!
    In loving memory of Big Man and Little Man,
    Monica Tannian recently posted…A Room Test

    • Well, thank you so much Monica. They were such characters, Big Man especially! I’m so glad everyone who reads this could enjoy them, too. I sure wish I could have seen them grow old. I love hummus—if you’re ever in our neck of the woods, bring it on by!

  19. Oh my goodness Joan, I have only just seen this and I am so, so terribly sorry for your loss. Big Man, I remember writing only a few days ago, was one of the Good Guys. Your post brought tears to my eyes.

    I am so lucky to live in a community where crowing roosters are an accepted and loved part of life. I am so sad for your neighbour that s/he can’t find the beauty in their crowing and in the pleasure they can bring to life.

    I’m thinking of you and sending many {{hugs}} across the Pond from Italy to you.
    Cath recently posted…Mar 31, Italian Easter Bread: delicious at any time of year.

  20. Diane in Wis says:

    Oh my gosh, Joan. I started reading your blog late last night and couldn’t continue, it was so upsetting to me. I had enjoyed so much your stories and pictures of your roos and their antics, especially loved the pic you posted just the other day of Big Man. I realize that I would do a very poor job myself, if placed in your situation…I just don’t think I’d have the courage to part with creatures I loved so much…especially in the incomprehensible situation in which you found yourself. I realize you felt that you had no other option, but the whole thing is surely making my blood boil! I must send you Peace to continue on, Joan.

    • Diane, I’m truly sorry if I upset you. This was my reality, and I wanted to share it as honestly as possible.

      I will continue on! I’m looking out my window right now and many of the ladies and Napoleon have flown into the backyard and are scratching the mulch out of all the flowerbeds. (The ones I just raked!) My heart is still heavy but I aim to give my animals the best life I can. I loved those two roos way too much to disrespect them by handing them over to someone else to do the job. My guys, my responsibility. Thanks for the Peace. I’m all about positive vibes making everything better—even the worst stuff.

  21. I feel your pain…the loss of a loved pet, so sorry. I also hear you saying you bought the wrong house. And yet, without a crystal ball (not one of us have that) we do not always know what the future will bring. it could have gone either way, there was no way you could know a neighbor’s reaction in advance. You could have ended up with a neighbor that shared your joy of chicken keeping…or in this case not. I find myself in a different but similar position…I move to the country almost 15 years ago living on a sleepy paved two lane road. Fast forward and this road is now a two lane AA roadway with fast-moving, noisy, dirty 16 wheelers with double trailers full or gravel and sand who drivers who get paid by how many loads that can carry in one day. They drive down this road (and my home) by day and night at 65 miles per hours plus. I had looked at this road as a positive method for reaching my small rural art gallery year-round and especially during the difficult to travel snowy months. This remains true but it is also true that the noise, dirt and fumes are a negative. We also had a VERY serious high ground water flooding between 2009-2012, that threatened our home and our way of life. We lost thousands of dollars of personal belonging, evergreen, shrubs, perennials, fruit trees as well as property damage and extra out of pocket costs – none of which was covered by our home or property insurance. We do not live in a flood zone, we do not live at the base of a mountain or by a river. No insurance company in our state covers high ground water damage. According to the locals there has not been standing water here in at least 82 years…(the age of the individual who was born and raised here) how could we have know this in advance? Simply put, we could not. We all just do the best we can and we make the decision in the best way with the knowledge we have at the time. That is all we can ask of ourselves. Donna at The Small House Big Sky Homestead.
    Donna Allgaier-Lamberti recently posted…Rain Blessed Rain

  22. I’m SO sorry, that’s awful. I can only have hens here, for eggs, and when I wound up with a very sweet little rooster it about killed me to give him away to a stranger. I hoped he’d be ok. He was a very sweet little guy, loved to hang out on my lap, but when the crowing and mounting starting off he went. That’s just so sad, but atleast you did it humanely…
    Nancy @ Little Homestead in Boise recently posted…Spring Has Sprung! Food Storage Re-Do, Preserving Meyer Lemons In Brine

  23. I found it hard recently when our little week-old runt goat broke her neck last week. I cried. While I doubt I’d ever feel the same about a chicken, I understand the shock of death. We’re very separated from it today, so when we come face to face with it, it’s rough.

    In addition, I will say that, if your bylaws allow roosters, your neighbour’s a jerk. We went to court against a neighbour who threatened to shoot our chickens. It wasn’t an easy process and I trembled like a leaf in autumn the entire time we were in court. (I suspect the judge thought I was naturally reserved and quiet – no, I was just too rattled to speak much!) We won and got a restraining order – he wasn’t allow to have a gun within 500 yards of our property for a year. That gave time for him to calm down, and things are fine now. The roosters still crow, though, and we have more of them.

    As you pointed out, keeping hens for eggs means roosters. It’s not just if you let them breed – your current laying hens had brothers who were likely destined for meat. (By the same token, if you drink cow milk or eat cow cheese/kefir/yogurt, etc, you are supporting the veal industry.)

    I went into homesteading with the mindset that male animals (both goats and chickens, on our place), if not intended for breeding, are for meat. To me, it feels more sustainable and more respectful of the animals. They live a good life here. I don’t believe that it makes us less human, but connects to our humanness and to nature.

    Hopefully you’ll find your peace soon.
    Just Plain Marie recently posted…Why Not To Buy Pancake Mix

    • Thank you for your sincere comments. I always appreciate them. And as I’ve said, I have no problem with anyone who can humanely raise, kill, then eat their animals. I simply can’t do it. Chicken. Dog. Goat. Pig. Cat. All the same to me.

  24. Oh no! I’m behind on my reading – as usual – so sorry to be reading this! I hate to say it, but I hope that nasty neighbor has a cat or small dog the local predators will go after instead of looting your barnyard!!
    Chris at Hye Thyme Cafe recently posted…Easter 2015 – A Day of Firsts

  25. I am so angry right now. And though I would never hurt another human being, I so wish it had been your neighbor on your lap with her head hanging down.