Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chicken sale, planting, and catch up

I haven't made any posts in a long time. Mom died at the end of October, and I had a hard time getting back to normal, but think I'm mostly there. I still get sad when I think of the things she's missing out on, so happy events are more likely to make me teary as bad ones. She was looking forward to having chickens and vegetables around, and she just missed out by weeks. Don't put off those things that make you happy, because you might just lose your chance.

I'm down to 25 or 26 chickens from the 50 I got in November 2008. It is still hard to get the same count twice. They are barred like zebras, so blend in together, and move too quick. I sold my first cockerel back on January 18th 2009 for $5 and some honey. He should be getting close to being of breeding age for the couple that bought him in a few more weeks.

This weekend past (March 7th 2009), I sold 13 more of the boys in Shepardsville. I was hoping for $6 a head, but mostly got $5. If you ever go to a chicken sale, take your own sacks or crates, and don't get haggled down on one chicken, only to have the haggler insist on buying several for the price they got on one.

We've come a long way in building the chicken tractors since my first try. I think dad has come up with a nice design (http://picasaweb.google.com/tompscanlan/LargeTractor), if a little difficult to move. We're still working out new and better things as we go, but I think we'll build a 2 or 3 more like that this spring for the next batch of 150 chicks that are due to arrive around March 25 2009.

Mar 9 2009, I started some small number of seeds inside. I need to go get some more dirt and pots to get more going. Today (March 10 2009) I planted peas and sunflowers. I hope to grow some of the feed for the chickens here, though I haven't worked out how much to plant yet. I'm probably under estimating, at the moment. Hopefully, I'll have enough left over to justify farmers market trips, but would be happy just getting a small income from the eggs and vegies this spring and summer.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Home grown chicken soup

Last week dad came up with a plan for a new chicken tractor, and we slapped it together for around $120. I had a hand from a friend moving them in on new year's day. I've been letting them wander loose, but under a watchful eye recently. They are 6 weeks old, and getting big, but they are still smaller than the cats, and the cats aren't too afraid of them yet.

Today I walked away from the chickens while they were grazing on the compost heap. I spent about 30 minutes playing with a new water setup and then noticed a couple "sleeping" chickens in the field. Looks like one of the cats was acting out a slasher film with them. I thought I had tabs on the cats, but I must have missed one for a bit. I dunno; maybe I should put that cat on the payroll, since it saved me the trouble of killing the bird.

Well, I strung them up, popped off their heads, and plucked one without scalding. I started on the second, but tore part of the skin off, so just undressed it the rest of the way. Since the first one was a pretty bad pluck job, I undressed him too.

I took them inside at this point and removed feet, crop, neck, oil gland, and guts, in that order. Those tiny guys are hard to clean out. Tossed them in a pot whole and we'll have some Asian influenced chicken soup in an hour. Can't wait!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

one more

Lost one more chick Friday night. He was half the size of the others and just didn't make it.

That night and the next day I displayed my cat trees in Louisville at BBC Brewing and Le Gallo Rosso. Lots of contacts made, but zero sales :(

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Another chick down. That makes 6. No obvious problem except for the part about being dead.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lost another chick with no obvious problems today. Starting to think it could be dehydration caused by too much heat from the lamps. The chicks aren't making distressed sounds when too warm, they just relocate, to a cooler spot. I think some may get stuck in the heat.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Another good night last night. Everyone was still kicking this morning. My last visit to the tractor before writing this I found one guy that had escaped somehow. They are small enough to squeeze through the 1" chicken mesh, but I've got it covered with tarps and packing blankets. Maybe he squeezed through when a strong breeze lifted the tarp. Who knows.

I found him because I heard him screaming from the the house. I'm surprised the cats didn't notice him first. They go down to the tractor with me in the morning. I have to hiss and swipe at yellow cat to keep her back. She's got the message and generally lays own to watch what I'm doing to her fantasy food. I can't wait until the chicks get bigger and alter the cats' view of their station in life.

Yesterday I moved the tractor about 4'. The little guys are poop machines and are getting good at scratching the ground, so I wanted to get them out of their own waste. I made the tractor using some salvaged 2x2s, salvaged roofing tin, and saplings I had to clear out of a field. It is a little too flexible and heavy to move easily. I finally figured out if I climb in and slide it from the center point, I can move it by myself. Unfortunately, as they grow, I'm not sure I'll want to be inside with the chickens as I move the tractor around.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

One more passed today. This one looked to have ben picked open a bit just below the vent. At first I thought it was poo stuck to his down. I cleaned him up a bit and noticed that the mass hanging out went through the skin. I kept an eye on him and since no one was picking at it, I left him in. I checked back often and his energy level went way down. He eventually laid down and didn't get up again.

Last night it got down to 18F, and the little chicks just piled up right outside the focus of the heat lamps and huddled together. I was nervous about their temps, but they kept quiet, so I figure they were happy.