Consecration Acres

"If ye labor with all your might, I will consecrate that spot that it shall be made holy."

Week One with a Lot of Chicks

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One down, eleven-ish to go.

They are beginning to grow their wing feathers and they are definitely bigger.  This is the fourth batch of chicks we’ve raised, but by far the largest.  I am looking at the tank they are in and wondering if they will be able to hold out for even the minimum three in-brooder weeks.  They are already in much tighter quarters than I prefer and I know that they grow like weeds in these early days–nearly tripling in size by 3-4 weeks.  I am already trying to come up with ways to turn the grazing pen into a giant brooder…

We had them out in the grazing pen for about an hour yesterday–with supervision, of course.  After Penny was milked one of the boys checked on the chicks and found another Delaware hen had died and two of the roosters were not doing well.  I had seen wet bedding and smelled ammonia when I checked on them the night before, but had hoped that they’d be ok until the boys could get them cleaned up in the morning.  I feared that the fumes and damp was what had gotten them.  I went out to supervise the clean-up.  Isaiah was holding one of the unwell roos in his hand and had just given it some honey and water (it should have had some vinegar in it as well to make a proper homemade chick electrolyte solution).  It died as Elijah was loading the chicks into a bucket to move them to the grazing pen.  The other roo seems to have recovered.  Bethel babysat the chicks in the grazing pen while Isaiah milked (after washing well, I assure you) and Elijah dumped out the wet shavings and replaced them with dirt and a layer of straw.  (All the books say not to brood chicks in the dirt, but ours have always done much better once we switch them over.  Wood shavings get into their food and water, hold moisture and will not give them grit for their gizzards, dust for their baths or anything to scratch in, and momma hens don’t keep their babies away from dirt for the first few weeks.  I rest my case.) Joseph was asleep so the little girls played on the deck while I hung up a couple loads of laundry.  It was a lovely moment: the temperature was mid 70s, a little breeze, baby sleeping, kids working, Momma working (hurrah!!), hens clucking, chicks cheeping, rooster crowing (one of the mystery birds appears to be a Rhode Island Red male.  That means we can get these, not quite as productive as Golden Comets, but still not bad), goat being milked…all is well.

Isaiah finished up milking and counted the chicks as he brought them in (smart one, he) and discovered that we were down to forty-two roosters, leaving seven unaccounted for!  Well, remember that unsecured brooder top?  It was still unsecured and we, apparently had had some predation.  Before bed last night Isaiah drilled holes all along the top edge of the tank and wired the whole thing shut.  This morning all were well and secure.   We were thinking, initially, that we had a raccoon, but think now that it would not have been able to get out after getting into the tank as the sides are smooth and about three feet high.  We now believe that this was an inside job.  The jump into and out of the tank past the chicken wire and the rather mauled appearance of the two sick roos point to our barn cats as the likeliest culprits.  Rotten, but at least it was early in the game.  I’d feel even worse losing seven just before butchering.

We are trying to decide between this plucker and this.  My husband wanted to know where we could get a cd of chicken plucking music (as per the first) to make it all the more fun and enjoyable.  He leans toward the second plucker as it would save a good deal of time, I worry about the 10x price difference.  Does anyone want to split ownership of a chicken plucker?

The sauerkraut is good.  We’ve had a little every day for the past four.  Every day we eat some, think maybe it could use a little more time and stick it back in the cupboard.  At this rate we will end up with about 1/4 cup of perfectly fermented sauerkraut as we have already gone through half a gallon of the stuff.  It’s making me itchy to start sourdough again, but I really don’t want to be starting in the middle of summer’s heat–a warm house can wreak havoc with even a well-established starter.

We have our first baby eggplants!  If we get a bunch and we are getting tired of eating them matured, I will try my hand at makdous.

Next week it will be a year since I found out I was pregnant.  It has been a challenging and not very fun year, but I sure love this little boy and would do it all over again.

May-June 2014 144

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