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Chickens Farm Life Food

Rooster Soup

August 9, 2017

I had a previous post about my mental journey on being able to process our first roosters.  I would like to tell you all about what we did with them.  After they were cleaned we put them in a pot with cold water and let them rest.  We did this on a Sunday, and we didn’t check them until Wednesday morning, they were not ready yet.  We opened the pot and their legs almost straight up in the air, and they were stiff as a board!  I was like “OMG,” they are like road kill, we can’t eat them yet.  We cleaned out the water and put fresh cold water in the pot and let them sit. This brought back some childhood memories of my dad having rabbits and squirrels resting in the fridge.  I had to give him a call and tell him all about my Rooster Soup I was planning to make.

 

If you don’t plan to consume them immediately, then you will have to let them rest until the body has passed the rigor mortis phase.  This can be different for each animal.  The two roosters took exactly three days. On the third day, I could bend the legs without any problems.  I was excited and texted Jason, “They are ready!”  Since I had never eaten a rooster and most people said they are tough, stringy and chewy, I was not taking any chances.  I was making soup with them.  I made them the traditional chicken soup way with carrots, onions, and celery.  I threw in a few bay leaves and a bundle of herbs from the garden.  I cooked them until tender.  I took the meat off the bone and separated the broth into two pots one for soup and one for stock.  For the stock, I just put the bones back in, added new vegetables and let that cook down to a nice rich stock.  That made 2 quarts of stock that I put in the freezer to use when the temperature starts to drop.  The soup I put the liquid in a fine strainer and got out any undesirable pieces.  Added new veggies, egg noodles once they were almost cooked the chopped up meat went back in the pot.

 

It actually couldn’t have come at a better time as I was coming down with a cold.  The soup was very welcoming to my sore throat.  Unfortunately, because I was not feeling well, I did not take any pictures of the finished product.  I do have to mention the roosters were seven months old and they were not stringy or chewy at all. I think I could have easily roasted them.  I am sure I will have another chance next year when I breed my Barnvelders.

Chickens Farm Life

Processed My First Chickens

August 9, 2017

I did not grow up on a farm, but I did grow up in a family that hunted wildlife.  My family, including my aunts and uncles family, owned a hunting cabin and everyone that was part of it shared the deer that they killed with all the family members. There were many years that wildlife provided the meat for our family or we would have very little.    My dad hunted other wildlife and taught me how to hunt when I was young. Hunting and processing are a good skill to learn.  As I grew up and moved away, that part of my life went away too.  I bought all my food from the store.

 

Now that we decided to live this farm lifestyle things that tend to come with it is processing your animals.  When It first started to really hit home was, I had ordered some chicks from the local farm store, and two of them ended up being roosters. They were starting to get mean, and I just wanted to eat them. I was thinking; I raised them why not.  I couldn’t do it, and I found all kinds of excuses of why I couldn’t.  I didn’t have a big enough pot, sharp enough knife and I didn’t have a plucker.  In reality thou, I knew I was making excuses but why? I have killed animals before why is this so different.  The more I thought about, the more I realized that it’s the act of killing an animal with my bare hands.  Shooting something with a gun is completely different.  The only qualms I had of hunting was I didn’t want to maim an animal I wanted a clean kill or I wouldn’t take the shot.  When I use to do that, I practiced a lot, and I was good. My favorite thing to hunt was squirrels, and I would go out on my own to get my limit. I liked eating them; they tasted like quail to me.  I could have shot my young roosters but I am not a good shot anymore, and I need to practice.  Luckily I found someone looking for the breed of roosters I had, and they went to a good home.

 

Now we are on our second batch of chickens, and we incubated some eggs I got from a breeder. This time we ended up with too many roosters, and I knew I would have to do the deed this time.  Over the course of the year, I was mentally preparing myself for this, I read and watched everything I could find on butchering poultry.  Off and on I discussed it with my sister on my findings.  She was grossed out when I would talk about the different things I read and watched as I researched this.   After all this research the thing that was the most humane other than breaking their neck was slitting the throat.  That was really hard for me to come to grips with doing this, as I watched a youtube video where they missed and cut the windpipe.  At the time I did not know they messed up.  I was like, OMG I’m not sure if I can do this. That was a big setback for me, and it took a while before I found some other people that had described things in a clear, concise way that lead me to look into the biology of the chicken’s neck.  I felt better now, but still, I was not confident in this process.  I started to order the things I needed for the day I would do this.  In the meantime, I was looking on YouTube for someone to show me exactly what I needed to do.  I found two videos, one was on processing chickens, and the other was a turkey.  The turkey video was very clear and now I am certain I know what to do.  I am feeling better about this, and I order the last piece a sharp knife.  I chose one that most people use.  It was sharp, but I felt like it could have been sharper.  I am going to research more and try out some other knives.

 

The morning came, and I went out very early and got the roosters and put them in a cage.  I did not want to let the chickens out until this was over.  I just didn’t want them to see or hear anything.  I took them to the area and kept them covered with a blanket it until I was ready for each one.  I used a killing cone, and I put the first rooster in the cone.  I felt uneasy as I got him in the position he needed to be. It took me a few big sighs as I tried to make sure I was in the right area of the neck and no feathers were in my way.  He went quietly without any struggle as I held his head until he passed.  Once he was ready to be plucked, we put him in the scalder and plucked him.  Now it’s time to remove his internals.  I kept reading and watching video’s don’t puncture the crop, and most people know not to puncture the intestines.  When I first started I reached in there it felt foreign to me, and I said “I don’t know what I am doing” I just couldn’t pull things out like I saw other people do.  I tried again and managed to get everything.  It was all such a blur as I was thinking, did I see the crop?  I didn’t remember seeing, but it wasn’t there when I looked inside after I was done.  One rooster down, one more to go.  The second one was similar, except he jumped a little more and bruised a wing, but it was a clean kill, and it was also quiet without a struggle.   This time, when I had to gut him, it went much faster.  I pulled things out and named them; there is one lung, there is the other lung.  I saw the crop this time and pointed it out.   We did not eat them right away, as we put them in cold water and will eat them later on once they recover from rigor mortis.

 

I hope by telling my story that I can help someone else find the confidence to process their poultry.

Chickens Farm Life Nesting Box

Nesting Box

May 23, 2017

After using different types of nesting boxes ranging from wooden to inexpensive types.  I decided to try out Miller Manufacturing Nesting Box.

              Top reasons I like them

    • Easy to Clean

    • Removal is a piece of cake

    • All my chickens use them

    • Roost flips up if you need it to

 

The first time I took them down to clean, it was a breeze. They are attached to the coop with screw slides. So no trouble there unhooking them from the wall.  I could easy clean, dry and replace them in a short period of time.  I find my eggs are cleaner too, compared to my other wooden boxes I have used. I would think having a hen that wanted to go broody in one must mean they are comfy too!  Here is Floppy after hatching a couple of her babies.

Miller Manufacturing Nesting Box

 Floppy Likes Them Too!

 

Chickens Farm Life

Floppy The Hen

March 22, 2017

Floppy happen to go broody two days after we put the fertilized eggs in the incubator.  I reached under her and could only see two eggs.  There were a couple in the next box over so I grabbed them and stuck them under her.  After the incubator eggs hatched we kept checking on her to see if she had any little ones under her.

Jason had gone out to check, he saw her getting some food and sent me a picture of the nesting box.  It now had 7 eggs in it and no babies.  I was thinking, It’s got be getting close by now.  The very next day Jason went out to gather the eggs.  There they were, two tiny little chicks hanging out beside their momma.

We left them alone and started to come up with a plan on what to do with her and the babies.  A cold snap was coming and it would be to way too cold for her babies.  We decided to move her to an enclosed dog crate and bring her in the house.  I went to put her in the crate and overnight she hatched a third baby. Way to go Floppy!!

Luckily our house is a fixer upper and I don’t care if I fill my dining room up with chickens.  We have a 27 chicks and 1 hen in our house.  

 

“ Two and Half Weeks Later It’s Garage Time! ”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cold spell is over and the chicks have enough feathers they can all be moved to the garage.

Jason built a large tall enclosure to keep them in until we modify the coop this weekend for everyone to go there.  It has a small roost in it and adjustable pole to hang the heat lamp on.

I put Floppy and her babies in with the other chicks.  I wasn’t sure how Floppy would handle having all those babies around her.  She was fine, until a little roo started picking on her.  Now she is putting everyone in their place.  Things are fine, no one’s getting hurt.   I am pretty sure I know who is a rooster at this point.  Looks like I could have at least 6 roosters.

Video feeding the baby chicks

Chickens Farm Life

Spring Chicks 2017

February 10, 2017

Who doesn’t love blue eggs?  I really like having a nice blue egg mixed in with my other brown eggs.   I was looking for other breeds of chickens that lay blue eggs.  Right now I have Ameraucana hens.  I get a few shades of light brown almost pinkish in color and two lay greenish blue and one lays a really nice blue egg.  The hen that lays the blue egg wants to lay eggs everywhere but the coop.  I started looking at other breeds that lay a blue egg and found the Whiting True Blue.  This breed of chicken not only lays a blue egg but is also a good egg layer.  Win. Win.  

 

So this year we decided to get an incubator.  We did some research and bought the Brinsea Octogon20.  I have never done this before so it was really exciting.  I started looking for fertile eggs on craigslist to see what was in my area.  Bam! There it was an ad for the Whiting True Blue.  I messaged the breeder and told her what I was looking for this breed and couldn’t believe I found some locally!  

 

 I arranged to meet her to pick up some fertilized eggs from her farm.  She had some really neat breeds of chickens.  After the tour I ended up with a dozen of a few different breeds. Whiting True Blue, Double Laced Barnvelder and Apennzeller Spitzhauben.   

Appenzeller Spitzhauben

Appenzeller Spitzhauben

INCUBATION

We printed out a date sheet that told us what to do for the 21 days.  Some of the days require candling eggs to see if they are growing.  I have to say when we did our first candling it was really exciting.  You could see the baby chicken starting to grow and the veins in the yolk sac getting larger.

 

We followed the instructions on the incubator. We didn’t think about this, but  Saturday happen to be day 21, hatch day!  I was happy it was a weekend or I think I would of been taking a personal day to watch the eggs hatch!   I patiently waited and finally we have our first chick trying to get out.  I was really impressed that it could make a pecking circle around the egg to get itself out.  There it was our first Whiting True Blue was out of it’s shell!  As the day went on most of the eggs have hatched, except four eggs.  Day 22 another hatched but we still had 3 left. One had a small pip mark on the shell but nothing was happening.  I didn’t really know if I should wait it out or not.   I did know that the chick that just hatched was still wet and needed to dry off.  It was getting late and we decided to goto bed.  The next morning there another chick had hatched, only this time it was really weak.  The poor little thing could not roll over and was stuck on it’s back.  We waited but nothing was getting any better.  After watching the little girl try to walk I noticed it had spraddle leg. 

From what I have read it can happen when the humidity gets too high.  There are several youtube videos where you take some bandages to keep the feet from spraddling outward.  You keep this on the baby birds feet/leg area until it gets a bit stronger.  After you take off the bandage it should be standing correctly.  We had some problems with that, it worked but not as  fast as most of the articles said.

 This little baby was so tiny compared to the other chicks, we named her Pip Squeak.  Pip for short.  What a little cutie, but not intimidated by the other chicks when she finally got to hang out with rest.

 

  Our first incubation we hatched 16 chicks not sure how many roos but time will tell.   Our local farm store happened to be getting in some black sex-link pullets so I got a few of them.  I wanted to make sure there would be some hens.  

 

Baby chicks are ready to be moved to the garage where Jason made a nice big box to keep them in. 

Chickens Featured Food

How To Boil Eggs

February 7, 2017

 

Boiling Fresh Eggs

No matter how fresh your eggs are, you can have boiled eggs that peel easily. The key to making this work is the rapid boil and then lower the eggs in.

Directions:

Fill your pot with enough water that it will cover the eggs the entire time they cooking.

Bring the water to a rapid boil. (Rapid boils is when the water is almost spitting out of the pot.)

Lower the eggs into the pot. I use a bamboo strainer/skimmer. It allows me to lower the eggs in without breaking them.

Boil eggs for 13 minutes.

Place eggs in ice water to stop the cooking process.

Once cooled start peeling the eggs.

Chickens Farm Life

What was that sound?!

May 5, 2016

IMAG0423

Is something hurting one of the hens?!

I heard this awful sound like one of my girls was getting hurt.  It was coming from the other side of the chicken coop.  I started to run out there expecting the worse but I did not see anything.  I start looking closer at this one hen and I was thinking geez you have really gotten big.  Wait a minute are you a rooster??  It wasn’t long after that popped into my head, she, I mean he made the saddest sounding crow I ever heard.  Now I am studying all my chickens and I notice  2 other large hens.  What I have 3 roosters?!!   I ordered 16 hens, thinking they were all female chickens. Now I am down to 13 and I am not happy.  I didn’t know this but I found out it is quite common to get a few rooster when you order some hens.

As the roosters matured, they were starting to get rough and one tore the earlobe off one of the hens.  At this point, they were at the perfect age to cull them, but I decided to find them a new home instead.  So that was it, I found someone who wanted them.  They were a nice couple and I met them in Danville,Va to do the exchange.  They wouldn’t just let me give them the roosters they insisted on taking me for dinner.  He told me he has 40 hens they can have fun with and I was glad to know they would enjoy their new home.

Chickens DIY Farm Life

Chicken Coop

April 5, 2016

I had chickens one other time in my life and I hated the coop we built.  It was a typical tiny box with egg collector on the back with a small run.  It was hard to clean and the hens never laid in the egg box.  This time I wanted something I could walk into and clean.  I wanted removable nesting boxes and a roost that lifted up so I could shovel out the poop and put it in my compost bin.

 

We were about to build a coop.  I had the plans and we were going to get lumber later that week. Until I was looking on craigslist and found a 16×20 shed  with free delivery and leveling.  I was super stoked about it.  We needed more storage and this had enough room to put the chickens on one side and storage on the other.  We cut an entrance on the side and put up dog kennel on the side so they had a lockable run.  I let my girls free range, I do not like to lock them up.  But from experience when they first start to lay they don’t know you have this nice nesting box for them.  They will lay all over the place so you have to lock them for a while so they learn.