It’s been an incredibly busy five days. The last time I wrote was Friday! Saturdays are always really busy with the Farmer’s Market and I’m tired when I get home. Sunday was overcast and gross and Wally and I pretty much laid up in the house all day. My allergies are killing me so I’ve been tired lately. I need to find my mask to use when go out to cut grass and weeds for the rabbits because I’m sure that’s not helping my allergies.
Monday was exciting: we brought the Cornish X and one evil rooster to the processor in Marion. I had no idea what to expect, but I was very pleased with the process. This plant is new and employees prisoners to do the work. I sort of expected a rough crew working there, but they were very nice and clean cut. The man that sent the chickens in was really sweet. He was a big black guy and he handled those chickens like they were his babies. They used a stun knife to kill the chickens and I feel like their end was as humane as it could have been.
The chickens all dressed out large! We had one that was just shy of three pounds, one at three and a half pounds and the rest were four pounds and over. Their carcasses look good. I don’t know if we’ll get to eat any or not. We need to recoup the money we have in them for the processing (plus gas getting there) and at least some of their feed. I’ve already sold three. I’ll bring the rest to the Farmer’s Market and see how they sell. From what I’ve seen, most of the pastured birds that are there are small so maybe that I have roaster chickens will make them sell better. We’ll see. I’ll use the rooster, he’s still “aging” in the refrigerator. He doesn’t have much meat on him, but he’ll make spectacular broth.
Later in the day, we went to look at some Dark Cornish chickens. This is a breed I’ve been considering as an alternative to the Cornish X. The man that had them was selling hatching eggs. The chickens are nice! They have wide, bulldog-like bodies and are deceptively heavy. They are pretty birds with close lying, glossy black with brown speckles feathers. I reserved two and a half dozen eggs from him. When we got home, I ordered an incubator off e-Bay.
Tuesday was our delivery to Hickory and while we were out, Wally got a call from the lawnmower repair shop that the lawnmower was fixed so we went home, hooked up our horse, cow, goat, pig, chicken, utility trailer to pick it up. Luckily it didn’t cost much to fix. Wally mowed the jungle that was the yard while I got some things done around the house. I picked up an Iwanna newspaper because I thought that I remembered seeing a goat for sale from a woman who’s contact information I had lost. It was her so I gave her a call and we had a nice talk. Also in the paper was a man selling Delaware hens! I called him and arranged to go and pick them up Wednesday morning. As it turned out, they were at the same exit as my employer so we brought a cooler along to pick up meat.
Delawares are gorgeous chickens. There was one rooster there and he was a big boy, but I could see that he wasn’t of the quality that is necessary to have decent meat birds. That’s okay for now, the hens I bought just started laying, in fact, two laid eggs on their way home. Those poor chickens though. He had numerous breeds all in a chicken house with a dirt lot. No grass whatsoever. We put out birds up when we got home and they stayed up all day, we gave them some litter from the rabbit house to scratch through. I’ll let them out this morning. They are going to think they died and went to heaven.
The incubator had arrived by the time we got home so we drove back out to pick up the Dark Cornish hatching eggs. While we were there, the man asked me about designing a web site for him. In addition to the Dark Cornish, he had a good number of game chickens. I told him sure and for payment, I’d take some of the Dark Cornish hens. He said that could work out, but that he had to keep the rooster. You see, the Dark Cornish is often used to had substance to game chickens. The Dark Cornish is also called the “Indian Game.” It is a bird bred to have tasty meat, I believe Cornish Game Hens were originally Dark Cornish chickens; now they are young Cornish X. The Dark Cornish was used to develop the Cornish X. I can see the similarities in the leg structure.
So poor Wally who really isn’t on board with the chickens spent his vacation days transporting live chickens, dead chickens, more live chickens and chickens-to-be. He put the incubator together and spent time calibrating it. He said it was going to be interesting to see the process, but once they hatched, then he said it’s no fun.
A good number of our existing hens will be brought to the processor in late summer to be processed as soup hens. I’m not wintering-over non or under-producing hens this year. Having the chickens processed was not cheap, but I think it was worth it. We’ll see if I make it to processing the meat birds here, but using the processor to do the older laying hens (who are really hard to clean). I’d like to do it all here, but there’s only so much I can manage. Having them done in late summer when enable me to have them available for sale when the weather starts to get colder.
While at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, I traded a batch of goat cheese for a 200-year-old sour dough starter. I haven’t used it yet, but I will soon. I have been buying or bartering for bread at the Farmer’s Market the past few weeks and having fresh bread with meals has been nice. I made a large batch of sausage soup Sunday and we ate that for three days in a row with fresh bread. It was fantastic. It has been really chilly over the past few days and we had another frost which killed the green beans that were in the garden. A friend told me yesterday that they lost everything in their garden. Our last frost is supposed to be April 15. Glad I didn’t put out any more tomatoes. I do need to try to get down in the garden today. I took out a pound of ground beef last night and I’m going to make burgers with a side of arugula salad, assuming it is not too peppery right now.
The rabbits are doing reasonably well. I lost a few young ones in one tractor. I’m not sure why, but I’ve given up trying to figure out why young rabbits die. That the gestation period of a rabbit is 30 days, they give birth to multiple babies that can be weaned in a month and will re-breed immediately after giving birth means that their young is fragile and there’s nothing that can be done about that. Hopefully the rest of the young rabbits in that tractor will survive. The dead ones don’t go to waste, Rose, the livestock guard dog loves them! We went through a spell with no loss and I’m sure she missed getting them. We had planned to get two more tractors made while Wally was off, but our plans and the weather interfered. Hopefully we can get them done this weekend.
I’m going to go and load up the Dark Cornish eggs in the incubator and then get ready to go out and milk. Milking is still a rodeo with the new goats. One of them has had a bit of blood in her milk for a while. I’ve been treating her homeopathically and she’s improved, but is still not better. I need to switch her remedy.
Until later …