Friday, January 21, 2011

Kiri is home, new chickens, future gardening.

And Chris tried to eat her...  He was quite bent out of shape that he only had 24 hours to himself as boss of the pasture.  However, after locking Kiri in the barn, and then letting her out and locking Chris in the barn, I knew that this was not a routine that I could manage for very long (like never...).  Plus, neither of them were very happy being locked up - Chris paced and wove and worked himself into a complete lather.  By Monday, they were both getting twitterpated when the other one was out of sight, so I thought I'd try putting them together. Success! After a slight bit of "I'll show you," they wandered off grazing together.  The size difference is rather comical - Chris at 17.1, Kiri at about 13 hands.

Kiri has already established her place in the herd as higher than the alpacas.  She's very quick to turn her butt to them or bare her teeth at them, and after their experiences with the big boys, they are very respectful.  I think Chris will now get all the feed he's supposed to.  She seems to have let him be boss (good call...), so I don't have to worry about her stealing his ration. After almost a week, he looks like he's actually gaining weight.

I stopped last night to put in my turkey order (15 std. bronze, 15 royal palm and 10 midget white), and was deciding what kind of replacement chickens I was going to get.  My Dark Brahmas are really lovely, and very friendly, but they haven't laid an egg since Sept.  There is no free lunch on the farm.  I have had Buff Orpingtons in the past, and my sister has had Black Australorps, and I was trying to decide between them, when the feed store owner mentioned that they had some crossbreds (buff/Australorp x) that some guy brought back because he thought they were roosters (they aren't).  I went out to look at them, and they appear to be 3-4 months old, and took them home (there are 5). 

I have a chicken/turkey tractor that I broke last year when I moved the turkeys to their bigger pen. It's made out of a 2" pvc frame with 3/4" electrical conduit "hoops" covered in chicken wire.  Because it is raining today, I covered it with a tarp.  In the dark last night, I just put some straw in, their box, and opened the lid.  This morning (in the dark), I furnished water and food - one of the girls was out of the box the other 4 were huddled in their box wondering what was going on! Of course, Lyra, the chicken terminator, was quite interested.  The plan is to repair the tractor - it broke the fitting at the corner - and start moving them around when the weather gets nicer.  Where they are now will make a nice garden-ette, particularly with their manure added to the horse poop that has been piled there in the past.

It would be nice to make a quasi-green house where the chickens are at the end of the house.  It would help keep the underside of the house warm in the winter, and give me a place to grow greens, brassicas, and roots.  I may move them before the weather clears up - I want home-grown salads...
Like Leigh, I have 5 acres.  While I would love to be self sufficient, I know that I won't ever be able to feed the large quadrapeds from my land. The birds can scrounge a lot, but they still need more nutrition than I can provide from my land.  I can, however, work towards growing all my own herbaceous food and canning, freezing and drying it for future use.

Last year, I raised 32 cornish x chickens.  I should mention that I'm a practiced procrastinator.  I arranged for them to be butchered (I'll do one or two myself, but 32?) at 10 weeks.  I forgot how fast they grow.  I had cockerels that dressed out at 10 lbs.  I sold 6, gave a couple to neighbors for being "neighborly", froze 5, and canned the rest.  It's really nice to just grab chicken off the shelf to use in cooking.  This year, I would like to do some tuna and salmon.  It would be fun to catch it too, but I don't think I can make the time to go that far, but a couple of the grrls here at work are talking about it so maybe we will!


~~Sittin.n.Spinnin said...

What do you mean you don't have time? You live 15 miles from the coast :)
I can't imagine how you can find time to can to be honest.
I am getting used to the idea of having a rooster, maybe I will sell chicks for butchering for me. I have cleaned chicken before and I really don't want to do it again :)

Leigh said...

This is really timely, Laura. Just this morning Dan and I were talking about getting a horse. Last year he looked at tractors, but couldn't bring himself to get one. As badly as we need a way to plow and cultivate the land, he really wants to do it with a horse! And we know absolutely nothing about them(!). Still, the thing that keeps him from pursuing it is the inability to support a horse from our land. I reckon that means we'll be relying on bartering with neighbors for quite awhile. :)