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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Could I Interest You in Some Free Poultry?

Larry and Kathy, my neighbors to the west of us who raised New Hampshire Reds before retiring to West Linn, came over to give my birds a look see....they can't tell the sex from looking at them, either. So they gave an old friend a call on my behalf; this old friend used to judge chickens at the fair.  What did she say about crowing pullets?

"Hens never crow," was the reported response.

I know that some of you are interested to see me do the homesteading thing and slaughter these guys for lunch but I have a sticky problem with that.

The problem is simply that they are still way too small to get a meal out of but way too noisy to keep in my sleepy little burg.  I call it my sleepy little burg because it's really a bedroom community, and a little more chi chi than I had bargained for.  Actually, had I known ahead of time that it's as chi chi as it is, or at least pretending to be, I probably wouldn't have settled here.  But anyway, the important thing to know is, I can't raise the boys to proper slaughter weight here because they are too noisy for the neighborhood.

So I needed to get rid of them as quickly as I could.  Fortunately, my friend Rae was able to take them, so this afternoon Steve and I had a pleasant ride down several country roads, and now the boys can make all the noise they want to on Rae's forty acres.  We watched them for a little while; the pecking order was quickly re-established, although all three of my birds didn't allow themselves to be bullied too far; a couple of combs got bloodied, but there was no out and out mayhem. Now they have much more room in which to roam, and now there are others of their ilk, should they get bored with each other's company. Rae's Buff Orpingtons are mighty pretty girls, and were I not so gun shy, I'd try again, but I'm determined that the next batch of pullets are going to be pullets (darn it!) and the only way to guarantee that is black or red sex links, so that's what's on the docket.

It was a lovely, sunny day on which to drive down to drop off the birds, and we stopped at a farm stand on the way back home.  I already had a carrot salad made from the carrots I harvested this morning, and a leftover pasta salad from last night, so we bought a couple ears of corn and some green tomatoes so that I could fry up some green tomatoes, which I love. We had them with a tarragon-bacon ranch dressing and they were as awesome as I needed them to be.

This weekend was spent harvesting what I could out of the garden and prepping beds for a fall and winter garden.  I read in this month's MEN that the way to get stuff to germinate in the hot summer weather is to shade the beds so that they're cooler.  I was thinking I might put the stuff that I'll start in six packs, like cabbages, lettuce and kale, under the asparagus, because it's nice and shady under there.  I'll have to rig something up for the root vegetables.  This weekend I got some weird little cabbages, which are worthy of a separate post, some carrots, and I took out all the peas, which were done.  The peas I picked will go for seed or soup. I also got a second batch of French batavian crisp head lettuces off the roots I left in that bed, and a big bunch of shallots harvested; the shallots are cooling their jets, or rather, I should say drying their jets in the garage.  The garlic is very close to being ready, but I didn't want to pick it this weekend.

The next post will be about our new metal roof, which should be done in a couple of days.

But tomorrow morning I get to sleep in a whole fifteen minutes later, since I don't have chicken chores.

We'll remedy that as soon as possible.

9 comments:

Rae said...

:)

Your boys spent the first part of their day under the coop. I have no idea how they wedged themselves under there. We got them out and blocked it up. For the last few hours, they've been exploring the yard, scratching away, and stretching their legs. One of the Ameraucanas has been chasing them around, but the rest of our girls are ignoring them. I think they'll be just fine. When they get to a more mature size, we can either rehome them, or you can come out and learn how to butcher a chicken. :)

Vivienne said...

Hi Paula,

I really enjoy reading your blog - it's so entertaining! Personally, I have an intense huntress for a dog so no chooks for us. How's your cock-a-leekie soup recipe for the noisy boys?

Have a lovely day!

Marc said...

Wow! Sorry to hear about that. I know how much time and energy it takes to raise the chicks and how disappointed we were when 33% of our flock turned out to be a rooster. 100% loss is too much.

The 2 chicks we got at the Urban Farm store turned out to be pullets. UFS didn't have any Wyandottes available at that time. I read in your blog that you got your chicks at Wilco. We called Wilco and they had Wyandottes so we went there for the 3rd chick which turned out to be a rooster. I know sexing chicks is not exact, but that's a pretty bad result for Wilco. The Urban Farm Store says their odds run about 90% pullets, 10% roosters. Between your 3 and our 1, Wilco is 4 for 4 roosters. I'm wondering if Wilco's supplier is getting away with providing straight run chicks because when people only get a couple, everybody thinks it was just their bad luck to get a rooster or 2. (Or 3! That's not right.)

Paula said...

I'm leaning toward learning how to butcher them, but I have relatives that would rather see them rehomed. I do know that if we butcher them, the'll have had a good roostery life at your house.

Paula said...

Vivienne- cockaleekie soup sounds really good. I don't know if that's what the boys will become, but whatever happens, I'll post about it.

Paula said...

Wow Marc- what an interesting idea! Buying straight run chickens (because they're cheaper than sexed) and selling them as sexed chicks, and then letting buyers think they have bad luck. In any case, they don't guarantee the chicks, so they could still get away with buying straight run chicks and selling them at sexed chick prices.

In any event, I will not be buying chicks at Wilco anymore. Rae's fiance told me there's a place in Estacada called Oregon Peeps that I need to check out- they evidently have chickens for sale year 'round.

I figure before i bring in new chickens, I'll have to finish the coop for real; Steve will finish painting, and I'll finish the next box, feeders and the water situation. Makes sense to me.

amygrennell said...

We have always bought from Wilco and not gotten a male yet.I was worried last year because one of the chicks was making this weird crowing sound. She is female though. I imagine that different Wilcos might get their chicks from different hatcheries and I know that last year or the year before an order didn't come in on time and they switched to a different hatchery.If you had room it would be good to order from McMurray as I have heard nothing but good about them. I guess you would have to get several people in on the chicks as I think their minimum is 25. I too live in a suburban area outside vancouver and can't have that many. :)

Lisa said...

HI Paula.
I had a hen that crowed. I had a cockerel for a few months (until he tried to remove my eye) and when he began crowing, the girls must have been listening closely as one of them tried out this new vocalization for herself! It didn't last long but she gave it a try. I also have a hen that fought my cockerel just like another male bird would of-off the ground and claws forward.

All of these behaviours stopped once the cockerel was "harvested".
Lisa

Paula said...

Hi Amy - yeah I've read that Murray McMurray is really good, and I tried to get the neighbors interested, but nobody would bite.

That's interesting Lisa- I'm pretty certain that Vivian and Violet are cockerels though. Maybe Ethel will turn out to be a girl after all, but if she continues to bite Rae, she may not get to live long enough to find out!