Our best butcher yet

I think we finally have this butchering thing down.

We butchered our last rooster this morning.  He was our biggest one.  We have our process down, and have learned how to pluck easily.  Getting a pot of water up to at least 150 degrees, then submerging the chicken and swishing it around until the feathers on the legs can be easily rubbed off with a stick. Today we didn’t have to put any effort into removing the feathers, they just came right off when we ran our hand across them.  Much easier than the last birds we did.

He ended up being really fat.  lol  He was a pig and ate a lot of food.  In the end he dressed out as a 4lb roaster.  Not bad!!

One week old and their first trip outside

Our new chicks are a week old today!  That means they got their first trip outside.  At first they were scared, but after only a minute or two they loved it.  They had fun eating some clover, digging in the dirt I gave them, and even catching a bug or two.  The fun had to end when it started to sprinkle, but they’ll get to go outside again tomorrow.  It was fun watching them play.

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Eggcellent!!

Our chicken started laying eggs recently!  Woohoo!  They have changed in color slightly over the week.  Her first egg was almost an olive color.  The next two were a blue-green color.  Now, the one she laid today is a beautiful turquoise color.  I love it!!  I’m so excited that she lays eggs that color.  That is what I was hoping for.

She has been separated from the other chickens b/c of her prolapse, but I put her in the coop last night and then let her free range again today.  She had been laying her eggs on the ground in the tractor she was in.  Today I made her a makeshift nesting box (until we can get the permanent ones built into the side of the door in the coop) out of an old cat litter container.  She came and watched me set it up, but still didn’t quite understand what it was for, so a while later my husband found her sitting on a self-made nest under our mini coop.

Luckily she hadn’t laid yet, so I picked her up and put her in the coop and locked her in.  I had put her last two eggs into the nesting box so she could get an idea of what it was for.  About an hour later I went back and looked inside, and she had laid an egg in the box!!  I was so happy and proud of her!  Hopefully she lays there tomorrow also.

Aren’t they beautiful?  The one in the back is the one she laid today.

FOUND!!

We found her!!  This morning, after the sun came up, she appeared on our patio.  She was soaking wet, but otherwise no worse for wear.  I was so happy, I about started crying.  Pretty silly, huh?  She’s my pet, though, so it would be no different from most people who lost their dog or cat. I’m just so happy to have her back.

Have you seen this chicken??

This evening at around 6:00 it looked like it was going to rain, but I wasn’t too worried about it.  We’ve had thunderstorms before, and all of our animals have fared through them just fine.  We checked the radar like we always do and we figured we would just get a little rain.

At 6:45 I was out on the front porch when all of a sudden, out of nowhere the wind picked up and a storage container that was sitting right next to the side of our house went blowing halfway across the front porch.  The wind was SOOO strong!  Our chickens came running onto the porch (we have a full length covered porch) but one of them wasn’t with them. Cricket was missing.  I started to look for her, but a torrential downpour started so I had to stop.

It rained heavily for about an hour.  I was busy doing something else, but at 8:00 my husband went to look for the bucket that blew away, which at that point could no longer be seen.  He found it down the road, quite a ways away.  He came to tell me that he still couldn’t find Cricket.  It was at that point that we started a search party.

We looked for her for almost an hour, and most of the time it was in the dark.  We looked all over our yard and into our woods.  We thought we heard her call a few times, but never did find her.  We ended up just putting the rest of the chickens into the coop and hoped she would show up in the morning.

She is my favorite chicken and I hope we find her tomorrow.  If she is out there, I hope she stays warm tonight.  It is wet and cold out there.  Poor Cricket!!

New babies!!

We got the call this afternoon.  Our chicks had arrived at the post office, and they wanted us to come pick them up…now.  LOL  We got there as quick as we could, and when we walked into the lobby with the post office boxes we could already hear them cheeping!  We get inside, and we asked the lady that works at the post office if she wanted us to take them off her hands, and she said “I’m just glad they weren’t here all day!”  haha

We ordered them from Meyer Hatchery, and they came in a nice sturdy box, in which they were separated into two groups.  We ordered 16 new hens and 9 broilers.  One of our broilers arrived DOA.  Poor little thing.  😦  Everyone else seems to be doing great so far with some vitamins and a bit of sugar in their water.

The hens that we ordered are four Buff Orpingtons, four Barred Rocks, four Speckled Sussex, and four Ameraucanas.  I love that we are going to have such a diverse flock!  They join our current flock of six Welsummers, one purebred Polish Crested, two Ameraucana/Polish Crested crosses, and a Cochin/Ameraucana cross.

Here are some pics of our new babies.  They are so cute and fluffy and soft.  For the first couple weeks they are in a giant cardboard box in our spare bedroom so we can keep an eye on them and the temperatures so they stay warm.  It is going to be fun to watch them grow up.

(The light yellow ones are the broilers, the darker yellow ones are the Buff Orpingtons, the black ones are the Barred Rocks, and the brown ones are the Speckled Sussex and the Ameraucanas.  I’m not sure which are which at this point, once they get older I will be able to tell them apart.) 

Whoever thought I would blow dry a chicken’s butt…

Mama

Mama is our oldest pullet.  Don’t you just love her round, puffy cheeks?  I have been waiting for what seems like ages for her to start laying eggs.  There are always risks with egg laying chickens, having them egg bound or a prolapsed vent.  I just hoped that I didn’t have to deal with that, at least for a while.

Tonight my husband comes inside and tells me “Mama has an egg sticking out of her butt”.  Ummm, okay.  I went over to check it out, and when I picked her up I found that, for the lack of a better term, she had an egg sticking out of her butt.  haha   I immediately got onto a chicken forum that I go to so I could find out what was going on, and I learned that she did have a prolapsed vent and her egg was stuck in the oviduct which was protruding outside of her body.  😦

I looked up ways to help her online.  I got a warm “bath” set up for her so help loosen up the oviduct so the egg could come out.  I set it up in a bucket in our laundry room sink.  I brought Mama inside, and just as I turned around to set her into the warm water, the egg came out and fell onto the concrete floor.  I was so sad that I didn’t even get to hold or take a picture of her first egg.  I took a picture of the shell, though.

Store bought white egg on the left, Mama's egg in the middle, one of our neighbor's brown eggs on the right

Anyway, I cleaned Mama up as much as I could.  She now has, basically, really bad hemorrhoids.  I wish we had some Preparation-H around, b/c I could put that on her to help, but we don’t.  I’ll have to pick some up at the store in case this happens again.

By the time I got her all cleaned up it was starting to get dark, and it was already pretty cool out today.  I didn’t want to leave her all wet, so I got my blow dryer out and I dried her butt.  Who would ever guess I would someday blow dry a chicken’s butt?  haha

Hopefully she is feeling better tomorrow.  She is isolated tonight, and until she is recovered so that the other chickens don’t peck at her and possibly kill her.  I really hope that this doesn’t happen again.  More than likely, though, it will.  We will have to decide at that point if it is worth it to continue to put her through that.  Sometimes raising livestock is really sad.

Cricket

Cricket is my Silver Laced Polish Crested chicken.  She was the only one that we got purposefully to be a pet.  We had to hand raise her for a week or two shortly after we got her b/c the two other chicks we got at the same time died.  She became very attached to me.  Now, she follows me around the yard and climbs up and sits in my lap.

When she was a chick, she would cuddle in my hair and sleep behind my ear while I would sit on the sofa and watch tv.  Even now, she sits on my shoulder and nuzzles my hair and coos.  it’s really cute.  Today she was sitting on my shoulder, when all of a sudden she climbed on top of my head.  Now, every time she gets on my shoulder she goes right to the top of my head.  LMAO!!  She is such a funny girl!  Full of such sass and attitude, but such a great personality.

Silly girl!

Our first roaster

We butchered two of the boys yesterday evening (we ran out of daylight, so we couldn’t do all three at once).  It was the first time we dunked them in hot water to loosen the feathers for plucking.  That worked great!  We were able to dress a whole chicken for roasting for the first time!  It turned out really nice.  I can’t wait to roast it. It will be on our menu plan for next week.