“You came to the wrong neighborhood”

Raising chickens: low-cost dinosaurs.

Rui Cardoso Esteves
5 min readJan 15, 2017

After a full month going vegetarian I decided that if I ever wanted to eat meat again, I would have to experience the full cycle of raise and kill an animal myself.

I bough three small chicks from an old woman in a local Saturday morning market. Well, I wanted 2 chickens and a rooster so I could also have eggs and an happy coop. Although I had no idea what I was buying at the time I ended up with the right combination (I figure this out just 5 months later).

Within a week I could easily recognize each one of them, and even if I didn’t want to, I had named them after three well-known people which had as surname the Portuguese word that stands for chick (“Pinto”): Pinto da Costa, João Pinto and Pinto Balsemão.

Pinto Balsemão catching a big big worm.

Chickennosauros Rex

Chickens have a strange way of walk and remind me the old folks from Jurassic Park. In fact, I entitled them as “Low-Cost Dinosaurs”. The truth is, any of the 10 cats living among my neighborhood could risk getting near them. Those cats were always spying from high points, but never getting close. Chickens may not have teeth, but they can surely bite!

Beauty and the beasts

Rulers of the yard

With the cats under control, I realized the 3 could rule the yard without being confined to the small coop. I freed them every morning so that they could freely hunt and peak sand and grass all day. By the night they instinctively withdraw back to the coop assuming their fixed sleeping posts. Chickens are not that stupid retarded animal everyone talks about, in fact, the only problem I found were not being smart ass’s … “literally”!


Chickens poop everywhere, they poop on the food they are eating … they poop on the water they are drinking … they poop all over the yard, all over you, all over themselves, not minding where or when. During the summer the dry poop was easy to clean, but when the winter arrived, the moist poop could spread everywhere, scattering a nice smell around … from the backyard to the kitchen or front door.

Neighbor’s Hawk strikes back

One day I was taking a nap in my bedroom when I heard the chickens going crazy. As I looked out the window at the yard, I saw my neighbor grabbing Pinto da Costa. I rushed outside, not really worried, but curious. Seems like some folks he knew were passing by and they though about feeding a Hawk with dead chicks they had brought. Looks like the killer bird saw a bigger and living Chick in the neighbors yard (my backyard!) and stroke it. Pinto da Costa had a big wound under the wing, bleeding as hell. Fortunately, he ended up stronger then ever being the bigger among the three.

I have to admit, I was worried about that chicken and it gave me a glance of what, sooner or later, awaited me.

Pinto Balsemão

Chickens and the Beast

I have had some experiences with my own dogs and cats and I have always had a feeling of clan when I were with them. The same goes with the chickens. Those were my mates, I could spend full afternoons just “playing” and beholding them outside … and man, I am 25. As days passed, while I was relaxing watching them, I realized they were beautiful and colorful animals, with some funny habits and moves. They stretch and have sunbaths against the wall. They clean the beak against the floor like if they were sharpening it against the stone. They rushed towards me every time I squat, with their awkward and fast steps. They land completely random every time they try to fly. Once, one of them headbutted a tree with a noisy and dry “poooc” when miscalculated a jump from a small hill.

João Pinto

Final Blow

Seven months, the winter had come… They were getting too big and the conditions of the coop quickly became unbearable. I was also afraid they could get sick and die. Despite they laid no eggs and I would love to taste one, it was the time.
I killed the first one with my mother. I grabbed him and my mother make a single cut on his neck. He struggled for a couple of seconds and gave up of life. We hen the chicken in hot water, and ripped of his guts. A awful smell of dead chicken filled the air.

In the end, it was ‘ok’ killing the poor Pinto da Costa. I have raised him with respect, I swiftly killed him with respect, and I ate him that night closing the circle of life. I’m not proud of myself but I’m also not disappointed. I “cowardly” ask my housekeeper to kill Pinto Balsemão and João Pinto the next day, I didn’t want to go through that again.

The final blow

A week has passed now, and even after I cleaned and handled with all the messy poop inside the coop, I kinda miss those chickens. I don’t think I will look at the supermarket chopped meat with the same eyes again, however, I don’t feel like I’m going back to the vegetarian diet soon, either.

What about you? Have you ever done something similar in the past? What do you think about us eating food without knowing how hard is it to make the final blow? Do you think I’m a sadist animal murder? Or do you think it is stupid to admire and name a small chicken and care about its life?

EDIT: After 5 months I found this article on 2011 Mark Zuckerberg idea of killing is own food. I think we both share the same idea.