So a friend posted on FB that she was looking for a home for three chicks. Okay. Her friend is giving them away for free. Okay. I ask about the birds, nothing.
On Mondays I do an egg run in Burbank so I contact the guy and I swing buy the house to collect the chicks.
They are not chicks - they are 4 month old roosters. Three of them. Terrified and looking incredibly ratty. I take them though I don’t need three roosters. Regardless, I can give them a better life here at least for awhile.
I talk to the guy and he admits he knew they were roosters. He’d killed the rest of the birds. All the chicks he’d been given on Craigslist were roosters. He didn’t know how to process the meat so they didn’t age it or brine it and ihis wife overcooked it — it was like shoe leather. The birds are tiny at 4 months so it would be like eating a leather Cornsh Game hen.
He was embarrassed, he needed to get the rooster out of his yard or to eat them, but that had not gone well and the neighbors were complaining about the crowing. Roosters are not allowed in in his city.
I put them in a pen and will hold them there for a couple of weeks before introducing them to the rest of the flock. I feel for them, they are sweet enough boys but shaking with fear. They can chill in the pen for a bit and get their bearings. They were okay with me petting them tonight, I hope they will be friendly tomorrow. I don’t know what breed they are. Pretty enough.
I’m hoping that they will get along together in the pen.
I powdered most of the grown hens tonight - about 75 birds dipped in Diatomateous earth - which has the consistency of powdered sugar. It would all have gone well if they didn’t flap theur wings. I’d post a photo but I don’t want to get this on my camera (or my phone.) Hopefully this will help knock down the mite population. Fingers crossed.
I like to sit in the chick pen as they are settling in for the night. Once everyone finds their place and quiets down there’s a quiet kind of murmuring that takes place among the birds. Like they’re chanting evening prayers under their breath. I don’t know why it makes me happy but it does.
My first video! I put a saucer of dirt in with a bunch of my day old chicks to see what they would do. Here they are…just being chicks. I love that dirt bathing is hard wired - these chicks have never seen a grown hen, it’s just instinct.
Highlight of my weekend…it’s the little things (and these guys are tiny!)
That’s how farming was described to me. I raise poultry so I’m on the low-end of heartbreak, but still…
I woke up this morning to discover that my Barnevelder hen abandoned her chicks during the night, they died. Everything seemed fine last night, though I’d considered putting a heater in her pen just in case. I didn’t do it and now the are dead.
Who Me? Oh, I’m just over here brining a few roosters…
Here’s what I’ve learned:
Roosters don’t have a lot of fat on them like commercial hens do.
Reportedly they are tough if they are not aged, brined, or slow cooked (until the meat falls off the bone).
Had I known this I would have aged the other birds before adding them to the deep freeze. Ahh, who am I kidding I didn’t have room in the fridge for any more birds. And I was more than a little verklempt about the whole subject
These birds anyway have very tight joints
I’m probably going overboard, but I did an 8-way cut, and now I’ve got three birds in a brine of in white wine, rosemary, herbs, bay leaves, garlic, some Cajun spices, kosher salt, pepper, a little palm sugar, some coconut aminos (soy sauce alternative), and olive oil. It smells divine!
Brining overnight or for a couple of days will give me a chance to figure out how I want to cook these guys.
The only saving grace by the way, is already knowing what a chicken looks / is built like and having worked with whole birds before. It makes it easier for me to distance myself from these being my birds.
Did I mention how much more peaceful and relaxed the farm is now?!
I thought I’d be more squeamish, but the reality is, I know that these birds were raised as cleanly and organically as possible. No hormones, no steroids, no-GMO feed. They were uncaged and had a pretty stress-free life. I don’t want to let them go to waste.
Cornish hen and her bitty brood. This is something all chicks do - even hatchery chicks who have never had a mother, or seen a grown hen, upon seeing one will run over and hop aboard. Also peck her beak for food.
One has to zone out to spend 21 fun-filled days in a small box, where the only excitement is carefully turning eggs with your feet. This red-laced Cornish Cross is mid-way through setting a clutch. She was a great mom last year, fingers crossed.
That I’ve gone from a shitload of chickens to an embarrassment of chickens in a short period of time. Partially as the jackass that had me hatching out chicks for him, abandoned the last hatch — which left me with nearly 50 chicks I wasn’t expecting to have. Also a glut of roosters. I’ve exceeded my tipping point and need to bring balance back in line.
My co-worker just came by, she’s sold all but the last two dozen eggs. 17 of 19 cartons of eggs. Impressive since the day is only half over. She’s taking orders for later this week. :) So incredibly grateful.
My current situation.
@VASOLINEJESUS, new crop of chicks pick one!
Hey, you want a chicken? You got it. This is the latest crop of chicks. With three you get egg-roll. I’ll even throw in Little Doukey the Jackass Rooster. Tiny, but completely an annoying little ankle pecker.
The bakery owner has agreed to status quo. Our original agreement stands - straight price for 12 eggs.
Hopefully we can now put this behind us. It was seriously, a small amount of cost we were bickering over, but for me it’s the principle of the thing. I felt like if I gave in to this demand, there would be others whittling away at the cost.
Trust me, no one ever got rich selling eggs. The cost of feed, housing, care, etc for chickens, then figuring in the three-month time off laying for molting and recharging, the errant broody hen, the older hen that stops laying, the hens that fall prey to predators, the ones that die (or drown), hens with chicks…it’s not as easy as it sounds.
I raise hens cause I dig them. They are tiny goofball dinosaurs in feathered costumes, more reptile than not. They require some care but are more like cats…make sure they have food and water and they’ll waddle around doing their own thing. Hold still long enough and they will see if you are edible. My cousin, an Omnivore raised in a household of Macrobiotic Vegetarians used to claim that he was an “Opportunarian” and I can’t think of a better word for chickens.
I deliver 5-7 flats (30 eggs per flat) 2-3 times a week to the bakery during the high season which runs from March until September - October. Then it drops off rather sharply, and I get 1 flat if I’m lucky every day or so until Spring…
Thanks again for your responses.
BLUE COCHIN HEN & CHICKS
This Blue Cochin is one of my favorite birds. Named Bonsai in honor of my friend Al (an avid gardener), they share the same birthday. She was a tidy broody mama and did me a favor by rolling the eggs out of the nest and piling them up by the door for easy removal as she decided to let them go. So far, she’s been great with the 4 babies she hatched out — a Blue Cochin, a Delaware, a Salmon Faverolles, and a Leghorn/Brahma cross.
TOP PHOTO: The mama hen will call the chicks over and pick up food for them then drop it for the babies to eat. In the top shot you can see the grain dropping (by the white chick’s foot)
BOTTOM PHOTO: In the lower shot the hen is digging with her foot, and the orange chick now has the grain in her mouth.The two closest chicks to the ground probably have their eyes closed given the amount of dust Mama’s foot will churn up.
The gray chick facing away is another blue Cochin, I am super-excited that the Mama’s genes came through on that one, the rooster is a Buff Brahma.