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Heartbreak on the hoof

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.

It’s one me.

RIP little ones.

Words I never thought I’d say…

Who Me? Oh, I’m just over here brining a few roosters…

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. Roosters don’t have a lot of fat on them like commercial hens do.
  2. Reportedly they are tough if they are not aged, brined, or slow cooked (until the meat falls off the bone).
  3. 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
  4. 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.

I realized yesterday…

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.

I tell you, they are like potato chips.

She caved

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.

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Zoom Info
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.

//
Zoom Info

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.

naimhe, Oh I was PLENTY pissed off and went the canyon FB page to let people know. Everyone jumped on board and was up in arms. It will be an issue at the next community meeting. These are many of my egg customers btw. We live in an oak forest, there is very little that grows in the shade of live oaks, and maybe a strip 6’ wide by 25’ long that could be left to grow or taken out with a weed whacker, shovel, etc. This is a sandstone canyon so removing plants is super easy. Keeping predators from digging under a fence however, nearly impossible. Even electrified.

MEANWHILE BACK AT THE FARM…
The top green egg is your basic extra large egg, the smaller is a new laying hen egg - a Salmon Faverolles hen, and the ginormous egg is a double yolker, and one of the biggest I’ve seen. All three eggs were laid in the same nest today.

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Zoom Info
Camera
iPhone 4S
ISO
800
Aperture
f/2.4
Exposure
1/15th
Focal Length
4mm

MEANWHILE BACK AT THE FARM…

The top green egg is your basic extra large egg, the smaller is a new laying hen egg - a Salmon Faverolles hen, and the ginormous egg is a double yolker, and one of the biggest I’ve seen. All three eggs were laid in the same nest today.

Truthful Thursday

  • Two of my roosters got into a fight. It was quick and I thought it was just posturing, but no…Blood EVERYWHERE. Both appear to be surviving the ordeal. Not sure where to put the loser in the fight. He’s currently in the bath tub. This is a temporary fix

  • The mama hen that was doing so well, abandoned her chick and it’s struggling — hard. It made it two days in the brooder and is now near death back in the incubator. Heartbreaking. Other abandoned eggs are hatching as we speak. Amazing that they survived.

  • My sister wants to put my Dad in an assisted living facility that is $11K a month. That’s $132K a year or more. Though he thinks he’s Daddy Warbucks, that’s the dementia speaking. I don’t know what she could possibly be thinking. I think she must be smoking crack. No one I know is paying more than $5K and in that case it’s a husband/wife both. This is Western Mass for God sake.

  • Tomorrow 40 chicks go to a new home and 365 pounds of organic red wheat come home in return. Great for foddering. Also 7 flats (210 eggs) head to the bakery.

  • In the last message from my Dad he threatened to break my arm, egged on by my sister. Now she wants a restraining order against me, (or court mandated calls), as I don’t call Dad often enough. He’s only awake the hours I’m at work.

  • I worked 10 hours today, and man was I cranky at the end of the day when I realized that:
    A) my boss went home midday as his kids are on spring break
    B) the account manager for the job left early to buy a birthday cake
    C) the client left early as she has an event tomorrow night in San Diego
    …so even if I finish the job, no one can sign off on it…

    Everything still needs to be completed and printed still. The crate ships in the AM for Canada and what makes it inside will go, everything else will be carried…the restis for a Vegas show next week, that crate ships Tuesday and they have shopped the job so much that now no one can do it in time to make the crate… Grr.

DARK BRAHMA ROO
This tiny rooster realized that he could crow this morning. This was taken just after he crowed for the first time. I like that he looks a little puzzled. He’s still warming up his vocal cords, but now from the safe distance of the greenhouse. Youngest rooster to crow that I’ve ever had. And Brahmas tend to mature slowly. Yikes, lol.

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Zoom Info
Camera
Canon EOS REBEL T5i
ISO
100
Aperture
f/6.3
Exposure
1/100th
Focal Length
55mm

DARK BRAHMA ROO

This tiny rooster realized that he could crow this morning. This was taken just after he crowed for the first time. I like that he looks a little puzzled. He’s still warming up his vocal cords, but now from the safe distance of the greenhouse. Youngest rooster to crow that I’ve ever had. And Brahmas tend to mature slowly. Yikes, lol.

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