Thursday, August 16, 2007

Chicken Dilemma

Last night at dusk, Clancy called me out for a walk. The objective was to get far enough from the house to admire the new porch. He had just nailed the last piece of plywood on the roof. Tonight the drip cap, roofing felt, and flashing...shingles by the weekend!
There was even one sheet of roofing plywood left over. Clancy said we could build a little chicken coop with it.
And then I had a brilliant idea: why don't we just put those 6 chickens in the freezer this fall and start fresh next spring? We really weren't prepared for the little chicks that came home from Kindergarten class this year. We haven't had time to build a coop. And if we are going to have a coop I want it big enough to hold the flock of 25-30 chickens I'm hoping to have by next year. When Clancy and I hold hands and walk around the yard after dark I usually have at least one of these great epiphanies. As a plus, the extra sheet goods and scraps can be used to build that new dog house I wanted. Cool.
Uh, yeaaaaah. Our Barred Rock rooster just learned to crow on Monday. Look at this handsome fellow. He has two Barred Rock hens, two Buff Bramah Banty hens, and one Gold Star hen (I think) in his harem. They are so beautiful roaming across the yard. All that gorgeous color...
It makes perfect sense to put these birds in the freezer. I can rarely even find them in the daytime. They spend most of their time in the deep woods. Until the dogs start leaving egg shells on the deck, I'll probably not even know when they begin laying. They raid the tomatoes every morning before I can get out of bed. They insist on roosting on the edge of a good piece of plywood that is supposed to be installed in the house. Every day Clancy pulls the plastic back over it. Every night they tear it off and roost. Maybe we should use that piece of plywood for the coop...
A few days ago I put the ewes into a new paddock with lots of spruce trees. Three days later I noticed Dova had the beginnings of "pink eye." This would be her third case of the year in that same eye. It never spreads to the other eye or the rest of the flock. I've done the research...it appears as though that eye received some trauma (scratch) that makes it susceptible. But I decided enough was enough. I called Headwater's Meats and arranged to have her brought in next Tuesday. Her eye distress seems to be healing up now. And of course, I won't treat her this time since she is destined for the freezer. Yes, she is the friendliest of all the yearlings. She adores people. Such a quiet good sweetheart. She's the little black lamb up in the Welcome corner of my blog. But I feel this is the right thing to do if I want to maintain a healthy, hearty flock that doesn't need a lot of extra input.
So I know I can do the smart farming thing. I know it. Building a teacup-sized chicken coop does not fall under the category of smart farming in my mind. Not when I have to build a bigger one next year... Anyone have a great Save the Chickens idea?

4 comments:

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

You're a tougher woman than I am; that "smart farming" is part of the reason I'm a vegetarian (the other is better health). I'd rather bury them than eat them!

As for a Save the Chickens solution, I can think of two: build the chicken palace you'll need next year now, or find a someone nearby with enough room in their chicken quarters to overwinter your small flock. If you keep your mature birds, you won't have to wait for pullets to start laying next spring....

Sabrina Wille Erickson said...

Oh, Michelle, I did not know you were a vegetarian. I sure hope I did not offend your sensibilities-that was not my intention.

I love to eat meat. And for my health it is vital since Celiac Disease has caused me to be very anemic. I am supposed to eat as much red meat as I want because iron suppliments just do not provide enough for me.

Don't think I'm a tough woman. I'm not. But I have learned to conserve resources. Eating a non-contributing member of the sheep or chicken flock is a way to "recycle" what I've put into that individual. And I also feel really thankful to that animal for its sacrifice. I try to honor those that go to the table.

I would love to build the Chicken Palace (love that) this fall. I am just not sure that could be a priority until next year. But I will definitely ask Selena, Elmer, Clancy, Dad and Mom what they would like to see happen...a coop or the freezer. The kids have already voted...the majority leans toward "coop"

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Ha! I'm pretty thick-skinned, and have not been a vegetarian ALL my life. Never was a big meat-eater, though. Loved animals too much to be comfortable with the thought of what I was eating. But if people choose to eat meat, I think they -- like you do -- should KNOW where it is coming from and be thankful for the sacrifice. Bon appetit!

shepherdchik said...

I agree Michelle. We should always be grateful to the animals who sacrifice. That being said, however, chickens are pretty to look at and eggs are great - but chicken soup is yummy too.

Sabrina: I always struggle with taking lambs to locker but I can't keep them all and I give them a very good life while they are here. We are not all destined to die of old age, and maybe they are lucky they don't have too. Also, I want my kids to have healthy food to eat and I think home-raised lamb without any hormones or other drugs is very good for them to eat. Also we don't use any corn, which makes means our meats are lower in cholesterol than most (or all) store bought meats. They are mostly grassfed with just grain for bribery so the meat is quite lean. We are getting a good group of folks around here who really like the shetland meat now too.