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Monday, April 13, 2009

In For A Dime, In For A Dollar


We ordered our laying chicks a week and half ago only to find out that most hatcheries in America are out or seriously backlogged with orders. That was the Run On Chickens post and I must admit I was truly surprised. I have thought a lot about our nation coming to it's food senses and starting to get back to the basics, I just didn't think it would all happen this year. I decided that since I could not control everyone else, I would make my family healthier and raise our own chickens for eggs. It took a long time to convince my husband. The tour to my friend Brenda's beautiful coop finally did the trick. Her chickens are happy, healthy, clean and friendly. All the traits he was sure weren't possible. So we ordered 30 of own and plan to supply eggs to all of our family. I was so excited to finally find a hachery that had most of the breeds I wanted and ordered quickly so they would not run out while I gazed at the pretty pictures. They told me to call in a week to get my ship date. June. What? Yep, June. Boy was I mad! But as they quickly explained, I feel fortunate I am getting them at all. Lots and lots of people aren't. So that leads me to the next topic.

My husband thinks if we are going to feed animals every day, like pygmy goats and laying chickens, we might as well raise meat chickens too! I must say I was not on board with this plan in the beginning. I am still not sure I am. See, I move worms out of the way and let spiders go when I find them inside. I don't fish or hunt. I will eat it. I just don't want to get to know it first. But all that comes back to my plan to know my food before I feed it to my family. I don't mean know it's name and the color of it's eyes, but to know how it ate and what it was exposed to before it made it to my dinner plate. Meat chickens are most commonly the Cornish Cross shown in the picture above. There are others varieties and all have good traits but this is the fastest growing, plumpest bird. To me, the longer I "know" it, the harder it will be to eat it. This plan may go totally wrong but I have researched this all winter. The pros and the cons of this particular breed and the hundreds of reasons I will wish I had chosen another. But I want it over with quickly. We will use a processor to harvest our birds for dinner. You take them live and pick them up hours later in a sack for the freezer. Quick, clean and humane. As humane as eating your pal can be. I believe their life will be infinitely better in my care than that of the large raisers like Foster Farms. Even though it will still be short. This breed is considered a terminal bird, and comes to you as a chick with a short life expectancy. This means even if I become attached, which I doubt will happen, it would be cruel not to process and will likely die of some other ailment like growing too fast for it's systems to keep up.

I guess it took me a long time to get to the point here. I ordered 50 this morning. We built a permanent room in the barn, I will show pics of that later today. That room may become the pygmy goat kidding room if this goes badly. I hope I will still be able to eat chicken after all this. We ordered enough to jump right in with both feet and feed several to each of our family members. Wish me luck. I think I will need it.

12 comments:

  1. I say go for it! I bet the chickens will taste really good being nice and fresh. You will have so many I think it will be difficult to make them your friends but just in case-keep an eye out okay? Hard to eat a pal for sure. We have two rabbits and one is bigger than my cat he is huge! Someone on Freecycle gave him to me on the condition we not eat him. So many do eat pets so this was such a big concern of hers she made me promise not to eat him. He is our pal though so we wouldn't. But don't worry about eating the livestock you raise, many many do. Quite common. You are already taking care of so many animals-I'm with your hubby, go for it.

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  2. Awesome! I want to raise chickens so bad but cant since we rent in town. As soon as I'm on my own land i will have chickens. No egg can compare to home raised eggs.

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  3. OMG it's Rudy!!!!!
    I think that's great too Heather that you will have your own eggs and meat. We always got our eggs at the local egg farm until they retired and none of the kids took it over so it went out of business. I sure miss it and any company we had sure loved them.

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  4. I know exactly where you're coming from and I'm glad we can't raise enough chickens for eating them to be an option. I don't eat chicken unless it's free range (way expensive, but we don't eat it often). I don't eat red meat, (hubbie does). I'm not sure what we'll be doing with our future egg layers when they're too old to lay. Guess we'll deal with that when the time comes. I suspect they will have become "pets" for us and we'll just support them in their old age.

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  5. We have loved our Silver-Laced Wyandotte flock. The eggs are lovely, and the hens are such pets that our daughters even take them sledding. The rooster is a character--and much beloved. When my husband brought up the idea of meat chickens, I thought the little girls would nix the idea immediately. But one of them said, "I think it would be okay as long as we don't name them." That said, we still haven't take the plunge. So I will be avidly following your adventure.

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  6. after i got our first set of chickens- i didn't buy chicken from the grocery store for months. just couldn't do it. but then i thought more about how all factory farm animals are treated and that if i was going to be a meat eater- eating animals treated humanely was the way to go. animals in your care will be healthier and happier and i can't help but think that effects us as well. good luck with your new adventure!

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  7. Wow - I am so glad for you that they have 'processors' now. I am with you - I would have a very hard time with raising chickens you know you will be killing and eating - but then, I am logical enough to know that I am not eating some ugly chicken on my dinner plate! (or what ever - I know it was a living breathing animal at some point) If I had the room - and my neighborhood would allow it (damn HOAs) then I would be right there with ya, especially knowing that I could get them 'processed' elsewhere. I come from a line of farmers, though by the time I was born, the generation before me hadn't set foot on a farm except to visit. But I would visit my Grannie Argo and Grampa Hoke in GA - and we would see them get a chicken ready for dinner - from the live clucking thing in the yard, to the roasted meat on the dinner table. Why I would have an issue about it now - I don't know - but I am with you on that. :-)

    Another bonus of eating chickens you raise -- you know what you are feeding them!! No added hormones, etc. That in itself outweighs any possible aversions to the process!

    So - are these chickens going to be easier to get than the egg laying ones?

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  8. You wrote that the longer you know them the harder to eat them. Well, that is literally accurate. The older they get the tougher to chew and eat, therefore, the less you know them, the better to eat them. So far its hypothetical for me, haven't ordered my first batch of chicken. I may chicken out of the meat part. I just want them to eat grasshoppers (but what about chicken soup?)

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  9. Good for you! You won't be sorry!

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  10. You can't get too attached to Cornish Cross chickens...they are not very attractive and have problems with their legs because of genetics, etc. We raised them twice. Once our neighbor's dog killed half the flock, after we feed them organic grains I ground myself for a few months. It was heartbreaking! We did our own butchering with the help of my mother in law, and even though I was familiar with the process, from growing up on a farm in N.Dak. I just really can't stomach the sights and smells, and couldn't eat chicken for some time. You are fortunate to have a processor!

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  11. Heather, you are a kindred spirit & dear to my heart! I just wish I had a fraction of the energy that you & Doyle have. Maybe age has a little to do with that? :) I love your blog & seriously think you should consider writing a book in your spare (yeah, right!) time; you do have a talent for making all of us laugh & I admire your adventuresome spirit & "we can do this!" attitude. You go, girl! Luvya, Brenda

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Thank you for your ideas, suggestions or greetings. I love to hear from you and read them all.
-Heather

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We started this blog in Feb. of 2009 to help us stay motivated and to track our progess in the garden. We live on 5 acres surrounded by Idaho farmland. We have wildlife galore and are attempting to attract more in the bird catagory. This is our journal. Welcome!

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