Posts Tagged ‘chickens’

Rainbow eggs

We finally have a decent rainbow of eggs going on!

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The good and the bad

The bad part about keeping chickens: looked out the window this morning and saw a rat run across the roof of one of the pens.  (Note to self, must get less lazy cat).

The good part about keeping chickens: just went outside, collected three eggs and scrambled ’em for lunch.

“Chef’s perks”

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Just heard this term via Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and mustered the courage to taste my chicken livers fried on toast. I fried them in duck fat with thyme, and ate them with lots of pepper. They were delicious! I shouldn’t be surprised, but it’s the first time i’ve cooked liver.

New incubator

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We went in with the poultry club incubator group buy recently and got our incubator on thursday. It holds 48 eggs and turns them automatically. Egg turning is a real pain when you’re doing a reasonable sized hatch so this is a real bonus. We have put a whole bunch in and it seems good so far. We candle in 5 days; preliminary results to follow. The eggs are pure and crossbreed araucana and rhode island red.

Reprieve

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The littlest boy in the dinner queue seemed a bit sick today and nearly got euthanased (ie binned, not eaten). He was lying down in a odd way on the floor of the run. He’s had a sniffle previously.

On seeing the secateurs and plastic bags he made a sudden turn for the better though.His young age means it might be worth medicating him to eat in a few weeks so we’ll give that a go. Much nicer to kill them older and healthy to eat, than younger and sick and just binning.

What this means is that the 5 that were getting the chop (slice really) tomorrow is now 2; sick chicken and the two smaller ones will go all together in around a month. Can’t leave just one alone after all.

Bypass secateurs are my weapon of choice for non-eating kills btw – v quick and clean. I was inspired after seeing proper culling pliers, which look like blunt secateurs.

Our last hatch: 0-8 weeks

Just hatched

 

The last two - still damp from the egg

 

Almost 3 weeks

 

5 weeks 1 day

 

Which brings us to here! 8 weeks.

How things are in spring

A quick tour of the burbfarm in spring.

First, the rockery:  This will be our herb garden from now on, so…

…the old herb garden can become a strawberry patch!  We’re about halfway through the process. This bed will have marigolds too, for company.

Below, the garden veg we’re eating:  Rocket, and..

…snowpeas.  The rocket is nice a little wilted.  I put hot gnocchi over them, with our sun-dried tomatoes from last season, parmesan and vinaigrette.

Here is next season’s crop, in a cement house under clear plastic (bodge greenhouse).  Mainly tomatoes, but also some herbs.  Might have a grape too (yellow pot) but I’m not sure if (a) the seeds were even viable and (b) this is one and not a weed.

Here’s our most productive pen, and the one we’ve hatched from.

And here’s the robinia that will shade its run.  The leaves have just started emerging, which is an uplifting sight.

Our 8-week-old hatchlings, who I think look tastier by the day!

And these are our new additions, from our own chickens!  A mix of Rhode Island Red and RIR x wyandotte.  So cute, but I’ve had to put one down since this picture, making two so far, because of birth defects.

 

Another boy

We ate a relatively mature boy last weekend.  He was given to us by a friend and was a beautiful colour, but something about him was setting off our other roosters – they were constantly crowing and we think his presence caused a fight between two of our other boys.

As he had been crowing for quite a while, he was way past the ideal eating age.  This consigned him to the stewing pot, with celery, onions, capsicum, carrot and plenty of herbs.  He was delicious, but despite the 7 hours of gentle cooking, quite stringy.

Like I said last chicken, when we eat a chicken we’ve known, I feel like we should try for something special, so I baked some bread too.  Still no oven, so it’s the pan/grill version still (which is working better and better!).  This uses the recipe from the paneer page.

Mmmmm chicken

Chicken swap

Following the death of Juliet, I had a friend who keeps chickens offer me one of her Araucanas.  (This is the very same super-generous friend, in fact, who has been giving us all her excess boys.)

So we have done a chicken swap!  Paprika (one of our Wyandottes) has gone to live with my friend, and we have taken one of her lavender Araucanas.

We shuffled the pens around (again…) moving a new pen I picked up 2nd hand on ebay down next to the little pen to give us more options for that whole area.

New fabulous set up

So our new girl, Lavinia, has moved down to the little pen (or pens I guess) with Craig, Thyme and Imogen (Juliet’s sister).

Lavinia

Lavinia is about 31 weeks, so right on the point of lay.  Hopefully now that the winter solstice has passed she will begin the lay once she has settled in.  One of her sisters at my friends place just began laying last week.

Checking out the nesting box (woohoo!)

I've trimmed her face and hair feathers back a bit since this photo so she can see!

This is great for genetic diversity too – Craig and Lavinia aren’t related as far as we know.  Chickens will tolerate some inbreeding, but genetic diversity means stronger chickens.  And Lavinia and Craig both being lavender (which is recessive) means we will definitely get some lavender chicks.

I cannot express how grateful I am for all the wonderful new friends I have met through keeping chickens.

Sad farewell

Our lovely littlest Araucana, Juliet, died on Saturday.  She’d had rattly breathing the week before and was a bit underweight so we’d been keeping her inside for most of last week in the warm and dosing her with some medicine to cover off the most common chicken sicknesses.  She seemed much better by Thursday so I put her back outside.  On Friday she seemed fine too, but Saturday I found her dead in the henhouse.  Chickens are very good at hiding their symptoms – being flock animals, they try to hide any malady for as long as possible so as not to get picked on by the others or kicked out and then become vulnerable to predators.  So if a chicken is symptomatic, they have likely had a problem for a while.

I felt quite sad when I found her, but in a different way to the sadness I have felt when we have killed the boys for eating.  Part of it is the unexpectedness of it – even though she had been sick, I did not realise quite how sick she was.  She had also become very friendly while she was inside last week as she had been handled a lot more than she was previously used to.  The main reason I feel sad though is because I am sure she was in pain until she died.  If she was sick enough to die, she must have been in pain.  I don’t even know exactly when she died – she was cold when I found her – so I feel sad that her death was no doubt drawn out and painful.  Even though I think it is sad that they all can’t live out long happy lives, at least I know when we kill a boy to eat the death is as quick and stress-free as possible and they have had a good life until then.

I am well aware that sickness and death is a part of chicken keeping.  Even though it is sad, I feel it is only right that I am aware of what eating eggs and meat really means.  Our society is so disconnected from the source of our food that we forget that these things do happen and some animals suffer and die even before they reach productivity (Juliet was about 20 weeks old, and not yet laying).  As sad as this experience was (and the first of many such experiences I am sure), it has only strengthened my resolve to ensure that the animals that provide our family with sustenance have as good a life and death as possible.

Juliet inside last Monday

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