Another Lucy Update

An update for those following Lucy and I’s progress.

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For the past week we have been working on walking a few laps around the corral. The first few days she was not very willing to cooperate. The last few days she has been doing much better. Yesterday was the first day we made a complete lap with slack in the rope the whole time. She was walking behind me the whole time too, threw her head a couple times, and had her ears pinned back, which made me a bit nervous. Typically, the ears are back is a “move or I will move you” thought going through the animals head. But a quick prayer and we made the lap just fine.

Today we did even better! She threw her head once or twice and after the first lap, she was walking beside me with slack. I don’t think we are ready to go get the mail together but definitely making progress!

At the beginning of the week we were thinking she might have her calf this week too. But I have been watching her bag and it has yet to fill, which usually happens just before birth, so I think she may still have a little time to go.

Happy Hens

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We are wrapping up this summers projects around the farm, one of which is the chicken coop. My husband finished up the electrical, we have lights and power to the outlets for spring heat lamps! My dad made the laying boxes and installed them. We now have some very happy hens. I put an egg in one of the boxes to give the girls a hint- New laying boxes means it’s time to start laying eggs! (So far no luck. But they are old enough that it should be any day now.)

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Wilma’s milk crate is still by the waterer because that’s where she tended to spend most of her time. Good news though, I can now remove it. She has been on the top of the roost the last couple days. I’m sure once she picks the box she want’s she will be there more often then not.

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Butchering Day

Wildflowerfarn.orgWe butchered chickens last weekend. A project I found quite disheartening and not for the reason you might think. I like to eat chicken and knew from the beginning that was the purpose for those birds. No, it was because they were not ready to be butchered. We got the birds much later into the spring causing them to be smaller late into the fall. Not to mention we were missing 40 birds due to fox, raccoon, and dogs.

They were much too small, even for a heritage bread. But, I was tired of being reminded for what seemed like a couple months that we needed to butcher the chickens before winter. I understood that once winter arrived, our help would not and winter is marked by deer season opener. This really was the last weekend to get it done or I would be butchering myself later or wintering the birds and doing it in the spring. So the date was set.

We set up everything right outside the coop and it worked quite well. We had great help which made the world of a difference too. I caught the chickens in the coop, my husband, put them in the cones and slit their throats, my cousin and my sisters boyfriend dipped the birds in hot water to prep them for plucking, my uncle ran the plucker, my sister took the birds to the cleaning table, where my mom, dad, grandma and dear friend got them cleaned. The birds were then cooled quickly in coolers of cold water, rinsed and bagged. Whew! What a crew! I am so thankful they all showed up to help.

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In the beginning, while I was catching chickens, my husband could tell I was disappointed that they were being butchered so small. He came into the coop and told me to just butcher all the roosters and the hens that were on the bigger side. He knew as well as I that we had only planned to winter 30 birds but we do have room for a few more. So that’s what I did. I picked 2 roosters, one of each breed, and the smaller hens and put them out in the pen. The rest met their demise. We also had a few roosters that made their way into the laying side that needed to be removed as well (sorting birds in the dark, I was bound to get a few wrong).

When it was all said and done we ended up with about 40 birds butchered and still 30 layers. Since the sorting, the hens learned how to fly out of the pen and we lost a few more than I thought. I have high hopes for next year. The permanent coop is built and the outside run is done. Since the permanent outside run has been in place, the only birds we have lost are the few that have flown over the fence and the dogs caught before I did. We plan to put netting over the outside run, that will keep them from flying the fence. With the addition of a hot wire around the outside of the pen next spring, I’m pretty sure that will take care of the dogs too. We will try again with butcher chickens, turkey’s, guineas and hopefully a few peacocks.