Our oldest came to visit over the weekend and took the time to relieve me of a rooster. We called him White Legs. He was an ugly rooster. I kept him through the winter as the third rooster in case predators got one of the other two. (I am fondly dreaming of having chicks born here. But so far none of my hens are broody—with breeders using incubators and selecting for hens that lay more eggs, broody hens don’t lay as many eggs—most the chickens I can get don’t want to raise offspring!) But spring is here, and three roosters is one rooster to many for 18 hens.

I’d watched the roosters. White Legs was the biggest, the dominate rooster. He chased Pancake and the young brown rooster.

White Legs didn’t call the hens when he found food; he didn’t do any dancing for the ladies; he didn’t have to. He was the dominate rooster. So I watched the flock. The older white hens hung out with Pancake, or maybe I should say Pancake hung out with them. The older white hens didn’t take any guff off White Legs, and when the younger hens would flee, they would head towards the old white hens.

I started to notice White Legs’ comb had little wounds that were bleeding in the morning when I let the flock out of the coop. My roosters don’t fight when they roost, so I knew neither Pancake or young buster brown rooster were to blame, plus neither of them had any wounds. Worrying White Legs might have parasites or an illness, I started paying attention.

When I went in to count chickens on the roost before closing them in for the night, I noticed the old white hens on the top horizontal roost pole (highest status is highest roost in our chicken coop) would peck White Leg’s comb, even as I stood there, and where he had been setting beside the old white hens on the top pole, he was relegated to the second, or middle, of the three roosting poles.

The next morning White Leg’s comb had more wounds, and I deduced the white hens had pecked at him during the night. That evening as I was counting chickens White Legs was on the bottom roosting pole. I quit worrying about parasites and illness as I began to comprehend the actual source of the expression “hen pecked”.

Anyway, when our oldest came to visit over the weekend, White Legs skipped Freezer Camp, went straight to Crockpot Camp, and his white legs will become a nice soup for one—our oldest took them home to make into lunch!

         Chicken Foot Broth   

Six chicken feet (feet from three chickens)

Water for washing, scalding, cooling then simmering into broth

Tough kitchen scissors or hand pruning shears designated for food use only.

In a largish sauce pan, bring water to a boil for scalding the chicken feet. While the water is heating up to a boil, scrub the feet free of any barnyard debris and fill a largish bowl with cold water. When the water is boiling, dunk the feet into the boiling water for 30 seconds to a minute then put them into the cold water to cool. (If ice is available, it’s OK to add it to the cold water.)

When the legs are cool enough to handle, peel the skin off the legs. If the skin wants to adhere to tightly for easy removal, repeat the scalding process (if the legs are scalded enough the rooster spur will pop off without much ado). Once the legs are peeled, snip off the claw tips at the first joint of the foot with the kitchen scissors or food designated hand pruners.

When the skin is removed (and the spur, when dealing with a rooster) and the nails have been clipped off, I rinse the skinned feet and put them in a crockpot. I add enough water that the feet are covered, turn the crockpot on high and let it do the work, adding water as needed. A sauce pan works just as well but demands attention (that’s how it was always done before crockpots.) and works best on a lower, simmer adjustment. I like to cook the feet for a couple of 8 hour days then strain the broth through a colander, let it cool, package it in 2-cup increments in freezer bags and freeze it for future use.

Note: Chicken Foot Broth is very high in collagen.