The sheep and chickens have been happily coexisiting for the past few days in the same fenced-in area. I think Andy had a reason for this, but also sometimes I think he just likes to experiment.
Funny story- while butchering on Saturday night, Linus came running back from showing our guests the sheep and chickens to tell me part of the fence was down. Upon arriving to restake the corners, I noticed three chickens perched on a sheep near their door. The ramp on their coop had been knocked over and their trap door was down, but they were wanting to go home and roost for the night and figured the sheep would help them get there. She didn’t seem to mind too much.
The birds have moved out of the brooder and onto the floor of the chicken house. They are here for a week until they move out on pasture. In the forefront is a meat chicken. To the right is a brown pullet that will become a layer. Notice the size difference? And can you spot a turkey? We have had great success raising all these birds together, no loss in this batch!
The meat chickens are now one week old. Most noticeable in their first week of life is the appearance of the white feathers that will replace their fluffy down. This usually starts on their wings. Our chicks are still in the brooder but don’t require the heat lamp as much, especially with September temps still in the 80s/90s. They are starting to outgrow their space, evidenced by their ability to “fly” out. In a few days Andy will move them onto the floor of the chicken house, and at about 2.5-3 weeks they will be moved outside to pasture.
They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. The ladies over at Polyface Farms are doing a series called “The Broiler Biography“. I have enjoyed their posts so much I thought I would do it here too.
At Wrightway Farm the kids have gotten used to calling our broilers meat chickens. In fact, anything we are going to eat starts with the word meat…meat chickens, meat turkeys, meat rabbits, and “Meat” the whether (male sheep). Our third batch of chickens for the summer arrived on Tuesday. After breaking through their shells at the hatchery they are packed up and mailed to us. Bright and early the next day we receive a call from the post office to come and get our chickens, ASAP!
When they arrive here they are carefully moved into our old watering trough/brooding pen. New bedding is placed on the old- this provides warmth and allows the birds to start scratching for bugs. The waterer and feeder are cleaned and sterilized between batches.
Andy always likes to place them in gently and show about half the birds where the water and food are located.
The little fluff balls love to sleep their first few days and huddle together to keep warm. They are so cute at this stage…hard to imagine in 8 weeks they will be ready to eat.
I love the late lazy days of summer the best, especially this year as we complete our first full year back on the farm. Our new batch of thanksgiving turkeys are a few weeks old and the next batch of broilers only have a few weeks left before they are processed. Andy moved them all in the same pen a few days ago, and while there is some competition over food, we love that they share space so well.
This morning I noticed that our sunflowers had bloomed, while the sheep were grazing in a fresh area of pasture next to the garden. We’ve learned that the sheep are particular on what grass they will eat…they prefer younger grass (recently mowed) and will leave the tall older grass alone.
Also this week we have finally been able to hold our new litter of bunnies, and butchered a rabbit from our first litter for Sunday dinner. It was delicious. We are still taking orders for rabbit, chicken and turkey for this fall.
Hooray for facebook connections! Thanks to my kids’ preschool we have not one but two awesome stainless steel tables costing a fraction of their worth. Although processing day isn’t my favorite day I am so thankful for the new setup. If you want to place an order there is still time for pickup tomorrow!
Tuesday was a busy day for us. Andy got a call at 8 am that our new chicks were at the post office and needed to be picked up. We ordered 30 meat chickens, and Linus has been telling everyone about them. “We got meat chickens and we are going to eat them”. Well, give them 8 weeks buddy. But they are super cute as babies!
The new chicken wagon is done! Andy put about half the flock inside on Sunday to get them used to their new home. Tuesday night they moved out to the field.
On their way out!
The inside of the wagon. Note the cool built-in feeders- one for the main grains, and two for supplemental grains. There is framing for windows if we ever want to put them in. But we are hoping to make at least one side a “billboard”.
The move excited one of the girls so much she laid an egg!
Fenced in. They have their own trap door in and out, and the screen door was recycled from somewhere on the farm. Note the fence around the bottom of the wagon. We’ll give away a free dozen eggs to the first commenter to tell us why we did that. (Open only to central Ohio/Columbus area).
Now that most of the laying birds are out (with the exception of the ones Andy is breeding) there is room for the babies. The kids are more interested and less afraid this time around. In fact, we had one fatality already due to some over-lovin’. Oh well, as Andy says, he’d rather have that than kids that are disinterested.
I returned home from a great mom’s night out in the city a little later than expected last Tuesday night Wednesday morning, and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. As I was getting ready for bed I heard a sound and woke up Andy – “Andy, wake up, it sounds like something is dying outside.” He ran to the chicken house with his 22 and then called back to me for some shells. A raccoon had made his way into the chicken house and was fighting with our broody bird for the eggs.
Andy was able to shoot it but not before he had eaten all the eggs.
Here is the dead rodent. Good riddance.
Sadly, although our hen put up a good fight, she died two days later. We will try to start the process again, and make sure we refortify the chicken house!