Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Butcher Time...


We had 4 roosters from our straight run pick this Spring.  I kept one, Crockpot, my friend Sheri took one, Hawk, and we butchered 2, Puff Daddy and Patrick.  Here's how we did it.

Sheri and I caught the boys, hung them upside down (they go into a trance when suspended upside down), and tied their feet to the clothes line.  Naki was very curious of this endeavor.
I've read stories of chickens running around without heads, so, I decided to cut through their arteries in their necks and let them bleed out.  They quietly and quickly died, with no drama like a headless chicken running around. 

We explained to the children that we have raised these chickens with love and respect and that they will nourish our bodies.  The boys were intrigued by the whole process, but Pyper could have cared less. 

Yes, that's an Aimee face.  Pyper soon came up and pronounced, "I eat them for dinner!"  Yes, Pyper, you will!  She wasn't phased at all by this. 

I do need to invest in better knives, though...

I put a wheel burrow with grass clippings underneath them to absorb the blood.
I set up a make shift fire pit and put my canning pot on top of the fire.  The water should be between 140-150 degrees for ideal plucking.  Sheri dunks Puff Daddy...

Sloshes him around a bit to get the water under the feathers.  Then she did the wing feather test--when one is plucked without resistance, then the bird is ready for plucking.  I had prepared myself for the terrible stench that everyone said there is.  It wasn't terrible at all.  It just smelled like wet chicken. 

We plucked the birds on an enamel-topped table, the kids all helping out.

Micah, Sheri's son, was so enthusiastic and curious about the whole process.  Watching him was worth the entire thing!  He had a lot of fund with the chicken heads. 
Micah takes Puff Daddy to get sprayed off with water...

We butchered them, following a great tutorial from: http://www.butcherachicken.blogspot.com/

I WAS going to keep the feet for broth, but decided that since the dogs were so well behaved during the process, they should get a treat. 

Naki and Hannibal didn't leave any trace of chicken feet behind.  There was NOTHING wasted.  We packaged the chickens, saved the necks for stuffing, gave the feet to the dogs and the innards to the wild animals.  It was VERY fulfilling knowing I could do this.  We were a bit slow, but that's to be expected, as these were our first birds we had ever butchered.  I suspect in the future, it will be a simple, fast process...about 20 minutes/bird.  Now, I know I can do the meat chicken thing!!!  Not too shabby for 2 suburban-ite moms, huh???

Saturday, July 28, 2012

And the 2nd One Hatches!

Yesterday was the 21st day for egg #2.  I checked Ida Mae several times yesterday, and NADA.  This morning, I woke up, took care of the kids and headed out to check on #2.  I felt under Ida Mae, and the egg wasn't solid.  It felt like it had broken!  I lifted her up...and this is what I saw!

And hour later...I found this...

Ida Mae was trying to help her/him along...

And an hour after that...I found this precious little chick trying to emerge into the world. 

 And hour after that, I gently lifted her out from Ida Mae.

Here she/he is!  Steven, the nanny's son, named this chick Berry.  I love it.  She's/he's now all fluffy like Fannie.  All it took is staying under momma, and drying off.  I love living on a farm!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Peep, Peep!

I went out last night to check on Ida Mae and I found this egg shell in her nesting box.  I immediately knew what that meant!

 Ida Mae had hatched out her first chick! 

 Meet Fannie! (if it's a boy, we'll have to come up with another name!)

 Ida Mae was so sweet to let me pick her up, check out Fannie, and give her kisses.  I've read where mother hens are aggressive and mean, but not Ida Mae.  She's so sweet.  I love this chicken!

 Pyper and I fed them meal worms.  Pyper thought is was so funny that Fannie would disappear under Ida Mae's breast.  She then introduced herself, saying, "I'm Pyper Ann Dickson (she can't say the "en" in Dickenson).  She's so dear. 

 Determining that Fannie needed to eat and drink as well, and the nesting box was a bit too far off the ground for her to hop up and down to feed, I set up Naki's crate in the coop and settled the new family in there.  Ida Mae immediately took care of Fannie and the other unhatched egg, gently positioning herself on top of them to keep them warm. 

Ida Mae and the baby were thirsty and immediately got a cool drink.  It's so neat to see Fannie roam around to hear Ida Mae make a throaty sound to caution her back to her.  Fannie doesn't stray too far from her momma. 

The other egg should hatch today.  Fannie was laid on July 5th, and exactly 21 days later, she was here.  The other egg was laid on July 6th, so we'll see!  This is so exciting!  The fun part will be to later figure out who the momma and daddy are.  Ida Mae and Mable are the only hens that lay.  We have 2 eggs.  I don't know who lays what eggs, as they are both similar colors and shapes.  We have 4 roosters.  So Fannie and the unknown other will be either a Buff Orpington/Easter Egger cross or a Rhode Island Red/Easter Egger cross.  Fun times ahead!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Skinny Minny

We brought Abby home from training this past weekend.  In 6 weeks, she dropped a lot of weight, became ribby and seemed "down."  Mark, the trainer, called me multiple times, telling me what a nice filly she was, but that he felt she just wasn't "right."  She had lost weight, seemed sluggish, and TOO mellow for a 2 year old.  He thought perhaps it was just too much for her too soon.  She went from being with her buddies, Iney and Anna, to a strange horse pal.  From lush, green pastures to a dirt lot fed hay.  He supplemented with grain, but she still lost weight.  He didn't over-ride her, only about half an hour a day, 6 days a week, but apparently, that was too much for HER.  I suggested we bring her home, let her chill out and resume training in cooler weather if  needed.  I love this sweet girl.  I don't want to do anything to jeopardize her sweet ways.  I just appreciate a trainer that pays attention to the horse and its well being, and not so much on his pocket.  How refreshing.

 I'm happy to report, she is happy and has started gaining weight!

Iney getting some sniffs in to make sure Abby's the same as when she left.  Check!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dixie Chicks Version 2

I got 9 chicks April 1st.  I've been meaning to update you on their progress, but time gets away with me.  I bought them before my precious Dixie Chicks were murdered eaten by a hungry fox or raccoon.    It seems hard to believe that Pyper was holding these fluffy little chicks just a few months ago...

Then they grew into teenagers.  We had them in a horse stall to separate them from the other flock, which became only 2 birds over night.  In order to protect them all, Shannon made a chicken run off of their coop.
It's not pretty, but it's effective.  This saddens me, because I loved calling my chickens and have them run to me like well trained puppies.  They would convene around the back porch and wait for me to throw out tidbits of love to them.  Our neighbors complained about them in their yard, so we had to build something to contain them.  I'm still bitter, but I grudgingly understand.  Not everyone loves my chickens like I do.  Crazy, right?
We opened the coop doors to both the teenager and adult coops one day and they all mixed in the barn.  Ida Mae and Mable, the adults, certainly showed the younger ones who was in charge, but no feathers were lost and no feelings were hurt. After several days of this, we threw them all together in the main coop.  Now, they are all considered adults, even though my younger hens haven't started laying.  However, of the 9 I bought, I have 4 roos.  *sigh*  Oh, well.  I enjoy watching them prance around, and crow.
Joshua named this white roo, Patrick.  I'm guessing from Sponge Bob?  I don't let Pyper watch that craziness, but hey, it's a roo.  He LOVES to crow.  And he loves Mable.  That's Mable in the back.
The handsome roo in the middle (red with green tail feathers) is Hawk.  He's gorgeous and seems to be pretty mellow.  The white and black one is Liberty.  She's a hen. 
Here's my sweet Ida Mae.  She's broody and sitting on 2 eggs right now.  Shannon and I candled them, and it looks as though they are fertile, but we'll find out for sure around July 26.  She rarely leaves her nest.  Her comb and waddle have become VERY pale, but from my reading, this is normal.  I've been hand feeding her meal worms and Shannon thinks I'm crazy.  I just love my chickens. 
This is Crock Pot.  He's the most handsome of all of my roos, I think.  I really like his personality.
And this is big handsome guy (on the right) is Puff Daddy.  Yes, I know he's white and he's not a rapper.  But he has big fluffy, puffy cheeks.  The white lady next to him is Foghorn Leghorn because she's a...LEGHORN!  The buff colored one in the back is Thelma, her sister which looks nearly identical to her is Louise.  The black and white one behind Puff Daddy is Liberty.  They are all Easter Eggers, except for Foghorn.  They will lay blue, green, or brown eggs.  They have greenish colored legs.  Foghorn will be my only white egg layer.  Her legs are bright yellow.  They are very docile and let me hold them.  I love them and their sweet ways.  

Shannon and I are trying to decide what to do with the 3 roos we don't keep.  Eat or sell?  I'm leaning toward eating.  But which ones?  Puff Daddy is a bit aggressive with the ladies, Hawk is nice, and Patrick is too loud.  My favorite one is Crock Pot.  What do you think? 

Monday, July 16, 2012

10 months old!

 It's hard to believe my strawberry blonde baby is already 10 months old.  She has the sweetest disposition.  She loves playing with Pyper, squeals with delight when included in games, and knows how to make us laugh.  She shakes her head "no" smiling the whole time.  She plays "Where's Raegan???" by putting a sheet or blanket over her head and pulling it off.  She's eating more and more and has developed a keen taste for pasta and chicken. She gets in the position to crawl, but prefers to sit on her bottom and scoot.  It's amazing the places she ends up with just scooting power!

 I took some pics of her yesterday before church.  This dress, Erin bought Pyper and it has made it's debut on Raegan.  I love hand-me-downs for many reasons.  Primarily the nostalgia it provokes. 

Shannon was kind enough to take a picture of me with my Itty. It's hard to believe we'll be celebrating her first year on earth in 2 short months!!!

Friday, July 13, 2012

An A-Typical Thursday...

Since I've been working crazy long hours for nearly 2 weeks, I was given some time off.  SO, I decided I needed to hit the trails with Iney.  The endurance race is right around the corner, and I wanted to be sure I got as much riding in as possible. I hauled 2 hours to Falls Branch, Tn to a friend's 100 acre farm.  It was an eventful day.  It rained, I had a flat on my trailer, the farm ride scared the snot out of Iney (many boogie men trying to eat her), and then she decided she didn't want to get back on the trailer.  I was beyond exhausted, but it wasn't a complete wash.  She learned many valuable lessons on that ride.  I did too. 

Our garden this year has taken off.  We grow organic, no nasty dusting on our veggies!  We fertilize only with compost from our critters.  It really pays off!  Look at those zucchini!  The red and russet potatoes have done well also.  We dug up all the ones that were dying off, and collected about 15 gallons of potatoes.  Whew! 

We were invited over to Jenn's house.  She and her family are from Maryland and they came down for little Steven's 5th birthday party this weekend.  They brought 2 bushels of blue crabs.  Oh, my!  I was in heaven!!!

Jenn's brother-in-law, Bubba, showed Pyper the crabs.  She loved them!

Steamed goodness with Old Bay...

This was our pile of carnage.  It's a messy business, but man, it's sooo good!  It was the perfect ending to a perfect day.