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Tuesday 10 June 2014

Meet The Flockers

Chickens. Gardens. Cheap Promises.
(I'm going to post about crafts, I swear!)

Blondie the Hen

First, I owe you a little farm update. Brace yourself. In short, we had some chicken dinners. There were too many roosters. It was getting crazy in the yard with squawking and crowing and feathers flapping all day long. A dirty job, not my favorite part of homesteading, but it feels really good to know that they all had a happy life and died quickly. Its all part of the experience of knowing where our food comes from and appreciating what it means to eat meat.

RIP Cocky and Squawky. They were jerks anyway.
Everybody knows that you put the poor chicken on a chopping block and chop it's head off. Well now I know that if you want the feathers to all pull out easily, submerge the body in a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds.  Some vegetarian I turned out to be.

The final champion rooster is none other than Big Mac himself. You may remember Big Mac from my old posts about raising chicks, when Big Mac or "McNugget" was the little baby chick who was getting pecked at by the other birds. As the flock matured, Big Mac became the biggest and strongest bird, and when the roosters were all going at it he made it clear that this was HIS flock, and he was Big Daddy.

Our new silky is enjoying some sour goat's milk. The chickens love it.
Here is Big Mac with our new girl from last weekend's poultry swap. After the roosters were gone and the girls started laying, we wanted to increase the flock. There were mostly young birds and roosters at the swap but I scored this beautiful Partridge Silky who is already laying.

These chicks are 4 weeks old.
I also picked out six chicks, mostly Americaunas. They will grow to be full size birds.
 Apparently they lay blue eggs. Fun!

Little rooster and the elusive silkies.

Now we have six birds remaining of the original twelve chicks. Three of these are bantam silkies, who have their own little roost in the chicken tractor. The silky rooster and the two frizzly girls stick together, and the new silky nests with them.

Watching the chickens integrate and socialize is so entertaining. The girls were heinously jealous of the new arrival, and of course the roosters just wanted to mate with her right away. Because the other hens were bullying her and establishing the pecking order, she is still staying close to Big Daddy where it is safe. I can't help but compare them to humans.

Hey, get out of the garden!!!!

From left: Ken, Gordon, and Lucy. Firefly is hiding in the back.
The herd is down to four. It seems small but I like it that way right now. I give up on Lucy, the little brown doeling. She goes into her pen at night and doesn't make any trouble. She is shy like her mom, Firefly, and Firefly is a great milker, so you never know. The big tan billy goat on the other hand (Gordon) has become quite tame and will eat from my hand and let me scratch behind his ears and pet him. Which is funny, because I'm the one that castrated him! Sorry big guy!

He is so big, he is almost as big as his mama already. That must be the alpine genes coming through from Barney - though my Ken (the mom) is no tinkerbell either. I have high hopes of turning Gordon into a pack goat. First I have to train him to be led willingly. Then I will see if he'll carry a couple of side packs. If that works, I could hook him up to a cart and then we'd REALLY be in business.

Okay, crafts are happening, seriously, they are. I have been sewing and quilting and I've just been terrible about documenting and taking pictures, forgive me. Right now I'm making bags for the summer farmer's market, which starts next weekend! I'm hoping to flog some baked bread and maybe some veggies later on.

I took this shot of the back of the house today and I really like it. It makes it look like I live in a big funky shack. (Here is where I stop and ask myself - wait, DO I?) This pic is taken from the perspective of the goats, who have altered the landscape and eaten some of the paneling off of the back door.

We have had two weeks of solid sunshine. It feels like July already!

Happy Gardening and Happy Summer!

Thanks so much for reading.


  1. Yikes, you ATE your roosters!!! That would be hard, but I suppose somone has to do it. I laughed at your one photo caption that said they were jerks anyway. It looks like you're having great fun and lovin' life -- as it should be!

  2. Granny Jones would be so proud of you! She used to tell us stories about when it was her turn to choose the chicken from the flock that would be Sunday dinner. She didn't relish the duty but realized that was the way food to the table worked. (No grocery stores on the prairie - if you didn't raise it or grow it, you didn't eat). She would wring the chicken's neck. I could have told you the tip about the boiling water because that was part of her telling. Granny and Grandpa also provided a big billy goat for the kids. He would pull a cart and the kids (children) spent a lot of happy hours with him, riding around on the farm (not much to do but work back then). I'll have to ask Aunt Shirley what his name was - she has some really funny stories about that goat!! (*sad side note -- I had to go check the spelling of prairie by looking on the book shelf for your copy of Little House, there it was. I love those books!)

    1. Some of the people I would most like to sit down and talk to, dead or alive, are my great grandparents. And I loved Little House as well but I think the most influential for me was Anne of Green Gables - the girl who spoke to faeries on a little island in Canada!



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