Sunday, 21 August 2011

Eaters and Layers

We've had a big chicken delivery: 14 ex-caged layers (our rescues) and 30 plump white meat chicks.

We'll keep five of the layers for ourselves and have found willing pet chicken homes for the rest. They will live out a free-range retirement with our horse vet, a local biker, and Mike's former home help nurse (we owe her a lot more than a few chickens, believe me.)

The brown hens show chicken behaviours after only a few hours, preening, scratching and sunning themselves; they're robust and adaptable. And they still have a couple years' worth of eggs to lay. Homes are easy to come by when we hear of farms exchanging their stock for fresh, commercially-viable birds.

The meat chicks came from our friend the KFC supplier. He dropped them off for us at our local gun shop / clay shooting ground. Where else can you get ammo and livestock all in the same place?

The meat chicks are physically stout, but emotionally and constitutionally feeble. They need coddling and delicate handling. They're the Laura Fairlies of the poultry world (apologies - I just finished listening to The Woman in White)

Yet, while I stood watching them, one or two have laid out in the sun, pecked the grass and half-heartedly scratched up some soil. Perhaps I'm too disparaging.

We're pushed for space, chicken-wise. I was going to use the sheep trailer as a mobile chicken house until I realised that the vent at the top was more than wide enough to let a fox in. The quail have downsized for a few days into a small pen, and the meat chickens have their ample aviary.

And we'll have chicken in the freezer again!


Paula said...

So the vent- is it small enough to throw bit of hardware cloth over it and hold it down with a really large hose clamp?

I'm hoping to go learn how to off a chicken at my friend Rae's next Sunday. It'll be one of mine. I kind of hope it'll be Ethel, the jerk, although at this point I think he's pecked Rae more than me so she deserves the right to 'do' Ethel.....

Colette said...

All go at yours again. Is it really a year since you got the last batch?


Peruby said...

OMG! You just reminded me how much I love Wilkie Collins. My fave is "The Moonstone" though. I am going to have to edit my profile...

"The lady is ugly" quote from The Woman in White just cracked me up when I first read that line in 1982.

I just downloaded it for my nook. Thanks again for the reminder!

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

Wilkie Collins and livestock either don't mix or mix better than anything I can imagine. Can't decide which.

Been ages since I read The Woman in White, but the idea of listening to the gothic goings-on while knee-deep in chicken poop is growing on me.

Kate said...

It was a good read, as I recall. The creepy, spleeny uncle was a splendid characterization. And yes, chickens in the freezer! I'm trying to free up room in there so as to send six broilers to ice camp in about three weeks. It's tough to fit anything from the deep freeze into the menu rotation with so much coming out of the garden at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Jen at M&T says:

Paula - I've also dealt with chickens that I wasn't sorry to see pass on from plot to plate! Maybe what Ethel lacked in personality, she'll make up for in breasts and drumsticks.

PC - We seem to get two batches a year now, to ensure one chicken dinner a week. We're thinking about Christmas turkeys if we can get hold of decent day olds soon.

Peruby - I had been listening to The Moonstone concurrently, but the Librivox reader got so bad I had to stop at chapter 25. If you say it's good, I'll get the book and finish it. It was gripping, and getting to the good part!

Tamar - When you're listening to your books while you work, do you sometimes look up and realise what an incongruous setting / activity you're doing, in relation to what you're reading? I love the contrasts.

Kate - Spleeny & Ice Camp: my new favorite words of the week!