Ok so it's really the chicken turkey shuffle this time around- who cares, I've finally added to the slowly growing variety of things on the farm. Six turkeys are hanging out with six americanas for the new laying hens, and five red rangers that I'm experimenting with as a new meat breed. The red rangers started off with a hitch, losing one chick early on to what i think was some kind of deformity. Not a good sign, but what can i expect from mass produced chicks? So anyhow the plan is for a carefully executed rotation of bird stock from brooders to barn to pasture to provide the safest environment for the birds while giving them pasture access. This is harder than i wanted it to be and maybe harder that it really has to be. The reality is that the bodies of cornish cross are the opposite of sustainable. Their genetics are geared for one thing and one thing only- the production of meat. So as a result they don't ever fully feather out and basically stop moving around a whole lot after 6 weeks. For me this means i feel the need to keep them under the warming lamps longer and by the time i feel like i can put them on pasture there is precious little time for them to enjoy it before they are too big to want to move or be moved around on said pasture. This is why I've gotten the five red rangers, just to see if i can get a fastish growing meat bird that can still move around at 8 weeks and taste great at the extended growing time of 12 weeks.
Another bonus with putting them on pasture is that they are pooping machines and can fertilize the entire space given in a day. For soil building this is the most awesome thing. I am ashamed to say that i do like the the raw efficiency that these birds exhibit in the act of meat making and am glad to butcher them when the time comes. So much so that i am staggering two largish (Ha! for me anyway) meat orders by one month so i will get 30 cornish cross mid april and 30 mid May, with butcher dates in mid june and mid july. My hope is that the harvest in the garden doesn't really kick in till after mid july- which may be asking a lot….
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.