Posts Tagged ‘chickens’

“Happy Chickens” by John

Just finished catching and caging around 50 of my meat birds. Thanks to the help of house-mate “Yan the sauceman” the job was over in no time. The hard part is tomorrow when I take them to a neighbors place and learn how to harvest and process them to get them ready for eating.
I’ve proved to myself that I’m willing to raise the meat I eat but I’ve not yet proved that I’m willing to go that extra step and kill them (why beat around the bush. It’s not harvesting, it’s killing).
I’m not sure how I’m going to handle it. I was so disinterested in working with dead things that I skipped all my dissection classes in high-school. And now the plan is that tomorrow I’m going go kill and clean 50 chickeny lives. Yikes!
I’ll let you know how it goes. Hopefully well. But either way I’m sure I’ll be glad to pay for the services of our local abattoir in processing the rest. And those I can sell too which is nice.
Speaking of which … Does anyone want to buy some chicken?

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“New Babies!” by John

I think sometimes that if we ever get our own farm we might call it “accidental farm” Or maybe that we should write a book called “The Accidental Farmers”. Or something.

So much of what happens here, about what works, seems accidental. Don’t get me wrong. We read a lot of instructions and do a lot of planning and hard work. But some of the most amazing things seems to happen mostly by accident. Or maybe by nature taking care of itself. The latest is in the video below.

Since shooting the video one chick made it down the ramp and out of the coop and had to be rescued and reunited with mom. After that the other chicks made it down and all three and mom are living happily together.
Still need to clean the old eggs out of the laying box through. That should be … gross.

“growl” by John

More frost this morning. Rain/snow/hail on the weekend. When is Spring actually here to stay?

Also, lost another chicken – most likely to a racoon attack. And the chickens we have wouldn’t sit on the eggs we left in the boxes for them. Looks like it’s time to buy some more laying hens.

At least it’s sunny!

Ooh – and the meat birds are finally going outside of their own accord!! Will hopefullly have a page on our website about them soon.

“Farmer John’s Update” by John

Wow – just had a look back at the blog and saw that not only have the proverbial “we” not posted in a while, but I haven’t posted in even longer. Oops.

So some people have been asking about the chicken with the growth. I’d take a picture and show you how she’s doing, but I can’t tell which one she is anymore – it seems that the growth has completely subsided and there’s no sign of any chicken being ostracized from the group at the moment, so I think all is well. My guess is that it was an infected cut, but I guess it could be cancer that’s gone into remission. Either way – it seems to be sorted out and we’re getting 5-6 eggs per day again and looking forward to more as the days get longer!

Some of you may also know, though we didn’t post it on here, that we were thinking about adding three little pigs to our farm family. A local farm family is moving away for a few years and had three pigs not yet ready for slaughter that they were selling. We hemmed and hawed and even went on a tour of Terra Nosa farm (an amazing organic farm here in the Cowichan run by amazing people with some good livestock experience) but eventually decided that we weren’t ready for pigs (fence needs mending, not sure about requirements for care etc) so we turned them down. Since that time I’ve borrowed a book on raising pigs and now I *really* want to do it, so we’ll see if we can get the systems set-up in time to get some weaners this spring.

Otherwise, things are progressing. We’ve borrowed a rototiller and tilled under the greenhouse in preparation for some early greens followed by hot weather plants. We got a delivery of 1,500 strawberry plants to put in the ground sometime in the next week. We’ve pruned all of the raspberry plants and are starting to side-dress with compost. We’ve pruned all of the grape vines and rose plants (thanks bro and Andrea and Yan!). We’ve learned about pruning blueberries – but haven’t yet waded into the blueberry field to get that done. And, generally, we’re looking forward to the rain stopping so we can get some of the work done that needs the soil to be a little bit more dry.

And that’s a quick update. Sent during breakfast before I go to work. Will this timing be the answer to getting John to post more … only time will tell.

“Updates” by Cindy

Be advised – the following post is a collection of random unconnected updates. I am too lazy to work on flow today.

You may have noticed that I have updated the wedding page, and added a new page, entitled Renaissance Women, to the blog . This is a new project I will be blogging about, so when you see the tag “renaissance women” in a post (I fully plan to use tags when I figure them out), you will know what it is about.

Farm update… seeds arrived.

A tiny box full of future food

This tiny box has so many seeds in it – it’s hard to believe how much food will come out of that box over the year.

Also, here is a picture of our poor chicken with the weird growth – we have been researching online and found that some people think you should leave the chicken alone as long as it is acting normal, and others suggest trying to lance it and see what happens. Others just say to put it on next week’s menu. We aren’t sure what to do, but we definitely do not want to spend an exhorbitant amount on taking it to a vet. Any votes?

Chicken with growth

Here are a couple of pictures I took today when Yan and John were jumpstarting the two cars that are now being stored here (one is the car share car from John’s work, and the other is Emily’s – she’s leaving it here while she is off gallavanting around Asia). I just thought they looked so cute. I don’t know what they are looking at.

Men at work

Random photos I took from plane ride home:

View from plane

View from plane2

Also, our choir concert was on Friday, and John had three solos. He was awesome. I would upload a video, but apparently that costs money… so no luck. Maybe I’ll try facebook, or I’ll youtube it and post a link. If people are interested in seeing it.

John in bowtie

Made more pickled beets today with Yan and Joan’s help. One of the jars broke in the canner and spilled its contents into the water bath. That was sad. We also irrigated the greenhouse, washed and returned a rototiller, and dumped out the chicken feeders from the meat birds. They will need some serious scrubbing though because they were full of moldy feed – which apparently looked like dog food to Bobo. Sometimes, we are forced to question his intelligence.

He is cute, though.

Bobo with his favourite toy

“Chicken Numbers and Business Sense” by John

Last weekend I went to an event on Saturday called the “Survival of Agriculture Forum 2” It featured a number of panel speakers, successful farmers, researchers etc., a lunch speech by the provincial ag critic, and an afternoon session talking about the proposed $100/farm levy, among other things.
One of the morning speakers was a successful (7 or so employees, farming full time) organic veggie grower from up island. Another was an agrologist/researcher (also from up island) who has done a number of state of the industry reports.
The lessons I learned were that you have to pay attention to the small details and treat the farm like a business AND that, according to the agrologist at least, if you’re not grossing $40,000 in sales, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll break even.

So, I’m trying to pay attention to the details in this post.

Eggs in the laying box

I swear, I didnt' line these up. The chickens did that themselves

We record the number of eggs we get per day. The average for October was about 10/day. The average for November will be slightly less I suspect. That gives us about a dozen eggs to sell ($3.50/dzn) every 2 days after we eat our share.
We haven’t been tracking each time we put in a new bag of feed (one today) which is the next thing we need to track in order to figure out costs. Cindy figures we use about a bag ($12/bag) per week.
Running the numbers, it appears that we can gross about $600 over the year with a net profit of just about $0 (not including labour, hydro or water) … but at least we get free eggs!
So … how do people make a living in this business again?

“Chicken Love” by John

For those keeping score at home, I picked up my first flock of broilers-to-be today. They are about 4 weeks old and in another 5 weeks will be happy, healthy, pasture raised chickens ready for … processing? harvest? slaughter? … the freezer.
All in all it’s taken me about four hours to get the chickens up and running. This weekend I picked up nine bales of straw for bedding and 10 bags of feed. The straw was like a blast from the past – remembering time spent in the barn at my grandparents’ farm, and the itchy eyes and runny nose that went along with it. But the smells and the feeling both brought back happy memories. Today I went with E to pick up the birds and bring them to their new home. Now it should just be a matter of checking on feed and water, letting them out of and into the barn each day, and taking them to their final reckoning at the end of their time with me.
So far I am much happier with my little birds this time than last time. I remember them as quite dirty, but they seem relatively clean, and squawky, but this time they were almost cooing. It may be the fact that by the time we got them home it was mostly dark and they were mostly asleep but I don’t care – they were cuter by far.
So here we go with some hands-on learning and, hopefully some good food and decent profit. We’ll see how it goes!