Unfortunately we needed to replenish our laying hen stock. Remember the chicks we brought home not too long ago? Well... one by one something got to them. We didn't lose any of our older birds, so I'm assuming that whatever predator got to them was preying on their small size. We kept them in a brooder box for what we thought was long enough, but apparently we needed to wait a bit longer before turning them out to pasture.
So yesterday we picked up three Marans, two are Cuckoo's (they look like Barred Rocks), and one is Black. They are a docile breed who lay chocolate colored brown eggs (which we're really excited about). They're about 20 weeks old, so they should start laying very soon. We also picked up two Buff Brahma's. They're a very pretty breed and are used for ornamental purposes these days, but are also good brown egg layers.
We have been having trouble with our chickens flying over their pasture into our yard, which is fine with us, but they haven't figured out how to fly back in. We are worried about predators attacking them when they free range, so for their safety, we clipped their wings. The breeder we purchased the new birds from showed us how to do it. They can still fly, they can get up to their perches at night in the coop, but they can't fly over the fence exposing themselves to whatever might want to eat them (besides us).
I also had the privilege of going to a chicken processing this morning with my three kiddies. Once again we headed over to the wonderful folks at Bethel Family Farm and they showed us (my oldest son and I) how to go from these guys...
..to this. If you are local, you really should go see them at the Scottsville Farmer's Market. They are there every Saturday with lots of frozen chickens and lots of yummy veggies and homemade bread.
Back to the chicken processing, it was pretty amazing the way they did it. They have a great system going, and my six year old even got in on it and was cutting off legs and heads (I was merely a bystander). It was surprisingly clean and the chickens literally went from the pasture to the freezer in less than two hours. You can't get much fresher than that! Micah and I keep meaning to rent the movie Food Inc., and we were also told Fresh is a good one as well. As I mentioned before, Micah and I just ordered our first round of broiler hens, so in 8 weeks we'll need to harvest them for our freezer (we will not be selling them). In the meantime, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to buy frozen meat from the grocery store again, I'll definitely need to swing by the farmer's market to see Joanna. Eating fresh, humanely raised (and humanely processed) chickens is the way to go.
Lastly, I had taken our rooster Corporal to process him today, but apparently he got wind because before I could hang him upside down for Graham to cut his throat he flew off! Graham went to catch him, but to no avail! I was really looking forward to making chicken soup with him. Oh well, I guess I'll have 25 broiler hens coming soon enough to eat...