The End of the Fatties

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You may remember me talking about the mistake we made in our purchase of a few “fill in” chickens; The Fatties. Well they had reach their prime as far as I was concerned. They were bigger than a small dog, ate and pooped way too much. For some reason Sunday has turned into chicken coop cleaning day where the whole thing gets a good deep cleaning and that Sunday I did not want to deal with those two fat, smelly birds any longer.

Butchering on Sunday just doesn’t seem quite right (however, neither does cleaning the coop) so they went to bed without a good cleaning and to be reckoned with in the morning.

The little boy and I went out and did chores as usual Monday morning. Went in had breakfast, read a story, played trucks; the normal routine. He then went down for a nap and headed to the coop.

Canning pot in one hand and axe in the other.

Out by the coop was the perfect chopping block already and I had an extra bucket out there for guts too. Now the only nice thing about an disproportionally fat bird is that you have no trouble catching it. So I grabbed the smaller of the two first. You see I have never butchered a chicken up to this point and I figured starting with the smaller may be better. Mind you, I have done enough bird hunting (usually rather unsuccessful) that I have the general “know how” to clean a bird.

Because I was only going to butcher the two birds that day I decided I wasn’t going to worry about plucking them which made the whole process much faster.

I will spare you the gory details; the just of it is, the head went on the block, I prayed I didn’t chop off my fingers and gave it a good chop with the axe. I then skinned the birds ( no plucking then), gutted them and gave them a good rinse in cold water to cool the meat as fast as possible.

In the house I cut the meat off the bones and placed it in quart jars for canning just as I did the venison last fall. The bones went into a stock pot and were cooked with some vegetables to make chicken stock.

The whole process went quite well.

Canned Chicken
In each 1 qt. mason jar I pack in the boneless, raw chicken meat topped with 1 tbsp. of kosher salt and 2 smashed garlic cloves, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.
Using a water bath canner I processed the jars for 2 1/2 hours.

* You can add other herbs or vegetables to the jar before processing. I did not this time making the chicken a little more “universal”.

Chicken Bone Broth
There is no recipe to my chicken broth usually more a list of ingredients that is in amounts of “what needs to be used up”.
Onion
Carrots
Celery
Garlic
Salt and Pepper
Those are the “for sure” things I add. Then its “anything goes” after that.
Parsnips
Rutabagas
Apples (give is a subtle sweetness)
Just to name a few
And of course chicken bones.
This will simmer for the afternoon. I can the broth and put the rest in the compost.
To can I leave 1/2 in headspace and process in a water bath for 40 minutes.

 

Wilma and Her New Roommate

My husband and dad were able to get the last wall up in the coop. It’s all insulated and ready for birds. Tonight we moved the temporary run outside over. They now have a new batch of fresh orchard grass and alfalfa to snack on. By moving the temporary pen the first round of wire can be put into place  for the permanent run.

Wildflowerfarm.orgWith the move of the pen the chickens needed to be moved to the other side of the coop. That was a very easy job. I open the door in the morning, they all run outside to greet the day and I close the door behind them. I then opened the chicken the door on the other side and in they went. Couldn’t be easier.

Up until now Wilma was penned in the corner of the “new” side and Sir Thomas Thanksgiving was in his kennel healing and hating every minute. With the addition of the rest of the flock to the “new” side both birds needed to be moved out as they are not ready to rejoin the rest yet. The turkey hates the kennel, no roost and he can’t fly in there. Wilma could use some more room to  stretch her legs too. So together they are sharing the “old” side. Neither of which can go outside because of the rest of the flock but this gives them much more space and they get their fresh alfalfa delivered.

Wildflowerfarm.orgI also put together a surprise for Wilma! She has been “nesting” in he food dish no matter what I do so I put together a nesting box for her. A milk crate with a little hay to lay in and a good layer of hay on top in case Thomas decides to sit up there, she won’t get pooped on. Hey, it happens, those birds go any where and every where and on anything! Gross!

You may also notice that Wilma looks much different in the picture above than she has in the rest of her. The one above is really her and Thomas. I just didn’t want to post a picture of her all mangled for those who are a bit squeamish.

Get the full story of Wilma here:
The Story of One Winged Wilma and the Guinea
An Update on Wilma
Wilma and the Dog

Lucifer- The Last Guinea

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Out of the mere 6 guinea hens we started with this spring we are down to one and I’m ready to ring his scrawny little neck! I have heard that raising guineas with chickens makes them easier to train; for things like going into the coop at night and such. I have also read the females can be territorial but the males can be down-right nasty. When ordering most birds you can have them sexed; guineas you only get a straight run option (meaning you get whatever hatched).

I have had chickens loose feathers before, usually due to a rowdy rooster trying to mate with a hen. But this group seemed to have a bigger problem than the usual rooster. After watching the chickens while I was on a “steak out” trying to kill the fox, I found the problem. It was the one remaining guinea.

The one we have left I have named Lucifer because he is the meanest bird in the flock! The roosters are a rowdier bunch than normal but they peck and run for the most part. Lucifer locks on to his target and doesn’t quit until his feet are planted on the back of the bird and he has a mouth full of feathers.

He is so mean that even Thomas Thanksgiving (the last of the Turkeys) has no tail feathers and had to be removed from the group because he was starting to bleed due to the relentless pecking. See more about blood and birds in The Story of One Winged Wilma and the Guinea.

Now that I have found the problem, the situation will be remedied. I am going to set Lucifer free.

From this there are a few possible outcomes:

1. He will get eaten by the dogs or the fox.

2. He will scare the dogs enough that they will forever leave the chickens alone and he will eat the fox.

3. He will survive and wander about the place until he freezes to death or chokes on a mouse. (I don’t think they eat mice but I wouldn’t put it past this one.)

This may sound harsh especially when I try to give each animal the highest quality of life we can provide, but I have limits too and he has reached the end of the line! With a bird this mean around the laying hens will not lay and that is a problem all it’s own. Not to mention how is anyone going to “Shake a Tail Feather” when they don’t have any left?!

We plan to try again next year with the guineas and rework the system a bit. They really are pretty birds. We had the pearl breed, they have little poke-a-dots on each feather and when they are trying to kill one another are quite fun to watch.

It’s time to enjoy the get outdoors you mean bird!