36 Chicks and A Plucker


The meat chicks are here!
They were nearly too excited to stay in the box.
That’s 35 male Jumbo Cornish X Rocks. They’ll dress out at three to four pounds in six to eight weeks. Notice there’s one different one in there. That’s #36, the extra they threw in. It’s feather-footed, so probably some kind of Cochin breed. But they don’t tell you what it is, or whether it’s male or female. Morgan is home for spring break. She started picking up chicks and naming them. I said, “They won’t be around that long. They’re meat chicks. If you want to name any of them, name that one.” I pointed to #36 and explained that we didn’t know what it was or if it was a boy or a girl.

Morgan: “It shall be named Rykener.” John Rykener was a 14th century transvestite who worked in London and claimed upon arrest that he had slept with numerous monks, priests, and nuns. When cross-dressing, he called himself Eleanor Rykener. “We don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl, so is it John or Eleanor? That’s why it should be named Rykener,” Morgan explained. She held the chick up in her hand, peered into its fluffy face, and inquired, “Are you going to tell me how many church officials you’ve slept with?”

Clearly, she spends too much time engrossed in her history studies at college.

Rykener, and the rest of the gang, are currently housed in big tubs in the cellar where they can benefit from the heater on the cold nights we’re having this week. They’ll go to a stall in the barn when the weather is a little better and they’re a little bigger.
Trunkful of extra feeders and waterers and feed.
These chicks are big eaters. They fall upon their organic starter crumbles like a ravening horde every time I refill their trays. At 10 days of age, it’s recommended to start taking their feed away at night because they will eat non-stop if food is supplied. They grow quickly from their enormous appetites, and if they grow too quickly, their weight can outstrip their leg development to support themselves. Taking food away at night helps slow them down a little, giving their legs time to grow in pace with their appetites.

They’re on organic chick starter because it’s non-medicated. I had them vaccinated at the hatchery. If you give medicated starter to vaccinated chicks, it nullifies the vaccinations. They had a booster in their feed as soon as they came out of the box, and get a vitamin mix in their water daily. They’re off to a good start, and we haven’t lost one.

I hate losing chicks.

You know, till it’s time.
Tub-style automatic plucker. The last plucker I used was borrowed. This one is ours. It’s really cool. This is how it works. (This isn’t exactly the same plucker, but it’s similar. Our plucker is also an EZ Plucker.)

We’re culling some roosters this weekend, and I can’t wait to try it out.
(By the way, that’s just a protective tape on the outside that peels off. It’s there to protect the steel frame in shipping.)

We’re getting ready for chicken processing workshops coming up. If you’re interested, check out the info below.

Chicken Processing Workshops

IMG_5327regFrom chick to plate, this full-day workshop has it all. Learn the basics of selecting and brooding chicks, and managing, growing, and housing chickens, along with hands-on poultry processing. Whether you have a small farm or just chickens in your backyard, you’ll gain the experience to provide your own healthy, natural poultry. Included will be slaughtering, scalding, plucking, gutting/cleaning, as well as vacuum packing and pressure canning chicken. Every attendee will leave with their own fully processed bird. We will be processing about 30 chickens on each date. Attendees will also have the opportunity to create a themed craft project of a wooden and wire egg or garden basket. Take-homes include your processed chicken and craft project. 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Breakfast, lunch, and supper are included. One-day workshop. $125.
Saturday, April 30, 2016
Saturday, July 30, 2016

See more information about 2016 retreats here and email me at CITRevents@yahoo.com to sign up!

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Three Girls, a Bull, and a Blossom


Dateline: The boonies, Michael and Sarah’s farm, Sunday afternoon.
A two-year-old dairy heifer.
Grazing undisturbed in bucolic country charm.
Lo, she is alerted from her pastoral ease by an odd arrival.
Hark, what mischief awaits….
….in yonder trailer?
Go forth, young heifer, and multiply!
And then, yes, then….
….the world she had known since birth vanished in the rearview window.
But her new world at Sassafras Farm could barely wait to greet her!
With sniffing….
….and circling….
….and secret conversations.
Then they all ran away together….
….to get to know each other, share their favorite colors and TV shows, and exchange ideas for baby names.
I think they like each other, they really like each other!
Or they were hazing Blossom and they just didn’t want us to see.

Just kidding! Our new Jersey-Brown Swiss dairy heifer seems to be fitting in nicely with the rest of the girls and Beau. That’s the bull–he finally has a name.

Blossom is due to calve in June. Glory Bee, Dumplin, and Moon Pie are due in April. Bring on the calves, I’m ready!

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"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....

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