Almost to 4 weeks and the chicks have finally moved to the barn. Dain built a wonderful addition, or rather partition in the barn to safely brood and house the chicks. This has become the challenge, to keep them safe from predators untill butcher time. I have a lot invested in them already, 3 weeks and 100 ponds of organic non GMO feed. This months order will include another 200 pounds to ensure I have enough to get me through to butcher time.
Because of the amount of time I have with these chicks, I feel as though I can't get them on pasture long enough. 6 weeks seems like a lot of time but they are just barely feathered out at 4 weeks, and that gives me 2 weeks to be on pasture? Seems like a joke to me. There has to be a middle ground somewhere that allows the hens to do the raising, bringing them out when she feels it necessary instead of when i think its ok. Cause ya know that I could be coddling them a little too much. Somehow all this just feels wrong, or just not sustainable. The upside is that no matter how you look at it this is better than anything I can buy in the store for my family, organic or otherwise. It's fast, I don't have to care for or keep the fox away from these chickens all summer long. I may be under estimating the amount of time too, 8 weeks may be the target....
O.k. not kidding, I think if I somehow became incapacitated and fell into their brooder I might not make it out. The growth rate of these guys is amazing, we are at three weeks as of these last pictures and though they aren't even feathered out completely they are bigger than the dark cornish fully feathered at five weeks last year. I'm at a loss as to how much feed to buy this month to get them through to June. In the first three weeks of life 25 chicks have consumed most of the 100 lbs of starter feed i began this game of chicks with. They are still in the brooder with heat lamps at night, but this set up is on the edge of acceptable. The amount of input is too much for my liking. I'm changing water and adding feed several times a day, and now am adding straw every morning to deal with the poo flow since i ran out of compost. The barn should be ready to hold them by the weekend, and it won't come a moment too soon. I think once these guys are in the freezer i will add biodynamic preps to the floor of the barn coop to prep it for the next batch. All of the litter from the brooder will go into the coop once it is recomposted. When the next batch comes they will skip the brooder tank and go straight to the barn. And for all you kids out there, learn from my mistakes -think big for the fast growers lest they find you unawares and consume you....
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.