O.K. I'm sure you're wondering where I'm going with this one... I think I can see them growing! It seems as though if I sit with them long enough I can see the yellow fluff being parted by feathers....The hulk chickens are about 13 days old now and are almost triple the size they were, almost. I have had no losses yet-incredible I think. Only about 3 pasty butts, and we are almost at 2 weeks! This is about the time I stop worrying about spontaneous death from chicken S.I.D.S. This years chick raising has been a pleasure with no issues. So in addition to the raising of the chicks on fresh biodynamic compost, next year I'm gonna add worms to the mix and prep the chick brooder with biodynamic compost that is mostly finished AND inhabited with worms. Every day I have gone out and gathered worms for my baby mutant chicks to supply them with the extra protein their obscenely fast growing bodies need and argh, does my back hurt! but if they were unknowingly sitting on their meal, I could come by once a day and turn some compost.... My Evil plot thickens....
It never fails, the new chick anxiety, I know what to do and when to do it but does that matter? Thats a big fat no. Are they too hot? Cold? Are they eating the fermented food? maybe I should put dry in too? Is that pasty but? On and on it goes for the first few days at least. This is also the time when you are most likely to lose a chick or two, chick SIDS. Ahh the farm life. It is a little crazy when you wake up with thoughts of baked chicks on your mind-were two heat lamps too much???? But i digress, the chicks are here and all of them made it through the night. I have had only one pasty but so far which is great. Last year there was 5 to 10 a day. It is still early though so I will keep my pasty butt vigil going for the next week or so anyway. We have already hosted chick keep away. Throw in some worms and whoa boy look out, those little buggers will chase the worm holder down steal his loot and run like the dickens. These guys seem more ferocious than the last batch. I'm guessing meat is whats for dinner for these voracious little guys! That'll keep me busy, digging worms for my fast growing little babies! Its great entertainment for the whole family!
So april is here again, spring has sprung and its time for the coming of the chicks. This is the second year I have ordered chicks for the purpose of filling my freezer. Chicken is the most consumed meat in this house and after learning of the horrid things chickens are fed to force fast growth I had gone to Organic chicken from the grocer. But even that is just not good enough. With GMO soy and corn making up most of the feed these days I just decided I would get my own chicks and learn the dirty deed of butchering. Its not so bad after all, the chickens don't get boxed up and shipped to the butcher. Each one is caught and handled with care and reverence, reducing the stress hormones that may affect the meat quality. I also know that all they are ever fed is organic non GMO, non soy feed, supplemented with things like apple cider vinegar and kelp. Countryside Organics makes a wonderful feed that I can trust is made from the best ingredients. So anyhoo, my chicks come on thursday shipped through the good ole' USPS. The brooder is all set loaded with a floor of biodynamic compost/ leaf litter. This helps their little immune systems to get a good head start and also gives them nutrients that aren't found in feed. They definitely need to eat a pound o' dirt in their lifetime to stay healthy. I will also be fermenting their food for the first couple of weeks. This ensures that you get the most out of your feed. The tiny microbes that predigest some elements of the grains leave behind vitamins like K, B and C. From the reading I've done it also reduces the amounts of feed needed and for the fast growers I got I would love that to be true. That brings me to the choice of breed this year. They are Cornish Cross, exclusively bred for meat production. Last year I went for Dark Cornish that were supposed to be dual purpose, but ended up tough when they finally got big enough to butcher. Though I find the idea of chickens going from chicks to butcher weight in 6 to 8 weeks slightly unnatural, the thought of 25 chickens eating feed for two months instead of five is quite attractive. On with the experiments!
Born in New Hampshire and raised in Maine, Eva's passion for living self sustainably began with Helen and Scott Nearing. Both were homesteaders who carved their lives from the land. Eva now lives in Eastern West Virginia, with her husband Dain and daughter Shayna, carving out her own life.