I almost didn’t go. I went to bed feeling frustrated with things. I think it’s the typical American attitude: we want everything instantaneous. I mean, industrial farms can grow out giant chickens in seven weeks; local pasture based farms can get them done in nine weeks. Most of my dual purpose breed roosters are still way too small to butcher. Then again, they are not yet 16 weeks old which is how long it takes for a bird raised naturally to get to butcher size. Note, I say “bird” not mutant which is what those Cornish X birds are plus I am not keeping soy and corn-laden food in front of them 24/7.
Yesterday, I went and picked up three 11 week old Cornish X chickens. They were purchased as pets and then got too big. Too big doesn’t describe them. They are like turkeys. I got them to practice my butchering skills. I’ll keep them on pasture for a week or so (if they survive that long) and I’ll butcher them. Likely, they’ll be fed to the cats and dogs. No matter, they were cheap. The people who sold them to me have more in them in food than I did in buying them.
The rabbits: yesterday they kept getting out. It was hot and the last thing I wanted to do was to chase rabbits. While the oldest of the fryers won’t be 16 weeks old until June 7, I am still frustrated that they are not butchering size NOW.
So I slept badly and woke up at 4:30 and turned the alarm clock off. We ended up getting up at 5:30, got the chores done, the truck loaded and at the Farmer’s Market at 7:30 and it was a decent day. We had a good bit of interest in the rabbits, we sold all we had with us: two and we sold three chickens. Not so bad I think. I think if we had three or four more rabbits with us, we could have sold them. I still think this market may not be the right market for our products, but we’ll stick with it for a while and see. The people who run the market are WONDERFUL! All of the other farmers are friendly and supportive. I like that. I’ve become quite friendly with a woman that sells organic vegetables and a guy that raises chickens, pigs and vegetables. I now barter milk and cheese for what they have that I don’t. Today the vegetable lady brought me a bunch of seedlings and the other guy brought me organic chick food. Cool.
It’s hot as bloody heck out there and in a few minutes I need to go out and harvest clover for the rabbits. I’m going to make it a priority to feed the rabbits in the tractors as much clover as they’ll eat. They seem to tolerate that the best. I am afraid to feed them anything from the garden (i.e. lettuce that has bolted) for fear of loosing them. Rabbits that are in that eight to ten week old period are still giving me problems. I lost two from a Silver Fox/Californian X litter this week; the others seem fine, at least they did the last time I looked at them. When they die, they don’t give me much notice: one day they are fine, the next they are bloated and dying. I have confirmed it is not coccidia so I believe it’s mucoid enteritis, a common disease in young rabbits. I’ve read that adding copper sulphate to their water may help and I really need to be careful not to harvest their clover, etc. in the morning when it’s wet. That may well have been what did in the two that died this week.
Far easier to feed critters pellets from a bag, huh?
The White Rock chicks are still growing really well. If I didn’t know better, I’d say they were Cornish X chicks for how they are growing. I’ll definitely be keeping the biggest roosters from this group to use for breeding next year.
I had hoped that our project this weekend was to be to install a fourth ShelterLogic down near the garden and move the rabbits down there, but when I went to Tractor Supply yesterday, they did not have them in stock. That made me think about our last discussion about ShelterLogics and how we really didn’t want to buy another one because they are not made as good as they used to be. Also, I’m afraid if we put the cover that comes with the building on it, it will be too hot on the rabbits. We’ve got silver tarp over the existing rabbit barn and it worked okay this past winter, but if we get any amount of snow, it is likely not going to hold up. We’ve run some ideas around as to how to correct that problem, but we haven’t resolved it yet. Wally said that if we ever do another “building” we’d do it like we did the goat shelter. So we talked about that, the cost, etc. and have decided to hold off on moving the rabbit barn until we’ve looked at all options. While I think it is a good idea to move the rabbits down near the garden, having to go down there to care for them may not be a good idea. As it is, we are all over the 15 acres caring for animals. The exercise is good, but …
Tomorrow morning we need to haul some compost down to the garden to fill up the bed I’m going to use to put the new seedlings in and then cover the bed with a thick layer of mulch from the rabbit barn. That will be a lot of trips back and forth with the wheelbarrow. We had better do it early while it’s cool. It looks like the sunchokes are not going to transplant. Even though I’ve watered them every day since I transplanted them, they are dying. Ninety degree weather is hard on any transplants. Now I need to figure out what to do with that area. I’d love to put some sweet potatoes in, but I don’t think they’d survive the chickens. Oh well.
Off to harvest clover.
Until later …