At the beginning of this year I made a resolution to eat healthier and get in shape. I have been trying to do this slowly to hopefully make the changes that I’ve made stick. One of these changes is trying to cut out meat that is full of antibiotics.

Most of the meat my family eats is organic, due to the fact that my husband is a great hunter. We eat lots of organic deer, elk, antelope and even cow, since we have raised our own cattle for the past few years too. However, one thing we hadn’t ventured into yet was chickens.

This year, I was very gung-ho and with a lot of help from my brother, we built a chicken coop. I then found seven laying hens on Craigslist for a great price and whiloa, we had fresh organic eggs. This was going great and pretty easy.

A few months ago I was wandering around a local feed store, and what did I see but the cutest little chicks all fluffy and tiny. I wanted to take them all home with me. However, I refrained from doing so, I only took home eight. My husband was less than thrilled with this. But my chicken hoarding didn’t end there.

My friend gave my son eight more chicks for his birthday. Now, I had gone from no chickens to a whopping 23 chickens in a matter of a couple weeks.

Of these 16 chicks, 12 were meat birds, which are chickens that are never intended to lay eggs, but are just bread specifically to eat. These chickens grow so fast and so big that at 8-10 weeks of age they are ready to butcher.

I was so excited. This was going to be great. Now I would finally have my organic chicken meat. As the weeks went by you could almost watch them grow they were growing so fast.

Then the day came, the day I had been dreading, but knew had to come. It was a sad day for chickens at my house. My meat birds went from me feeding them twice a day to filling our freezer. I have to say that I will miss them a bit, and was even a little sad to have them go. However, I will be happy when I know exactly what I’m feeding my family this year.

Joy Larson is a mother of four boys, graduate of the University of Montana, animal lover and writer.