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!