Thursday, June 12, 2014
around the homestead...
Thankful for a bouquet of daisies from a friend, Scripture that encourages, land to till, a flock of laying hens, a flock of meat chickens, an afternoon spent weeding, seed leftover from last year that sprouted, freshly-picked strawberries and lettuces, and a sunny day in which to enjoy it all. :)
The meat birds are Cornish Cross -- I know, I know, they don't look very cute. Ours are about six weeks old, and butchering day is less than two weeks away. Cornish Cross is a breed designed to grow quickly and produce a lot of meat. We start ours off in a brooder and then move them out onto field grass once they're a couple weeks old. Our homemade poultry pen keeps them safe from predators (mostly -- read on) and is moved at least once each day to a fresh spot of grass where our chickens can peck away at the bugs, grass, and weeds. Our method was inspired by Joel Salatin, although we don't have beef grazing our small acreage like he does.
Living surrounded by miles and miles of forest is a wonderful thing, but one of the realities we face in raising chickens here is the abundance of predators eager for a quick snack at our expense. We do all we can to ensure the safety of our flocks, but sometimes our best just isn't enough. A couple weeks ago I woke to the sound of something out in the field. I jumped out of bed, grabbed my glasses, and because we keep a heat lamp in the meat bird pen, I could clearly see what we're sure was a raccoon racing back and forth INSIDE the poultry pen. I screamed (yes, I screamed) at Dan, "Somethings in the meat birds!" He flew out of bed, down the stairs, and out the door, but by the time he reached the pen, the critter has escaped. It was 3 a.m. and Dan was out in the field until 4:30 using random scraps of this and that to secure the meat birds since the raccoon had done some serious damage. We've raised meat birds several times over the past few years and have never had anything like this happen. So discouraging. In the end, we think we lost four or five birds that night. Crazy! Thankful we didn't lose them all!
The garden is growing well. We've had a pleasant spring with plenty of sunshine and just enough rainy days to keep things watered. So thankful. :) Friends are helping us with some landscaping around the house which I'm eager to have finished. I'm taking lots of pictures and will share when it's all wrapped up.
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