Friday, March 22, 2013

Chickens

Wednesday we paid for ten baby chicks at Orscheln's.  When we got home we found we'd been given only one Rhode Island Red chick, although we paid for three.  I called and they said I would be welcome to come back and get the two chicks we were shorted or else our money back.  However, the next day the Rhode Island Reds were gone.  So I chose two Buff Orphingtons instead.


I started out with three Barred Plymouth Rock pullets, but I didn't get them out of that crowded tub soon enough and the others started pecking at one.  Before you know it she was moping in the corner.  I brought her to the house to see if I could get her back to normal but it was no use, and finally I asked Cliff to kill her and put her out of her misery.  It isn't a great tragedy, although of course I'm sorry she didn't make it.  I grew up knowing that my pet chicken today could end up being dinner at any time.    
So here's what I have in my flock:
2 Barred Rock
2 Buff Orpington
3 Cornish Cross (We'll eat them about the time they are six weeks old; they grow fast.)
1 Rhode Island Red
1 banty
At some point I may acquire a rooster, just to hear him crow.  

All are female except possibly the banty, which I only bought for the cuteness of the breed, and the Cornish Cross.  Those could be either sex.  I chose the other breeds because they are fairly gentle, friendly egg-layers; this will be my first time to have Buff Orpingtons, but from what I read, they are friendly too.      
I have absolutely no experience with Cornish Cross chickens.  From what I've read they are very stupid, will eat me out of house and home, and if kept much past eight weeks, will develop leg problems.  They are strictly for eating.   
Every once in awhile I join Cliff in the shop, telling him, "I've come to spend some quality time with my chickens!"  
I pick up the chicks one at a time (not the ones we're going to eat) and hold them and stroke them until they quit cheeping.  I like tame chickens.  This takes me back to childhood, when each spring Mother would buy a hundred chicks, a mix of males and females (straight run).  Chicken was about the only kind of meat we had.  Mother would butcher a couple of chickens on Saturday, dress them and put them in a pan of water in the refrigerator, and fry them on Sunday.  Usually she invited someone for dinner after church.  Woe to the old hen that stopped laying, because she would end up as chicken-and-noodles.  Too tough to fry, but perfect for stewing.  
I played with the spring chicks when they arrived, and when they grew up, I spent a lot of time in the chicken yard playing with the hens.  Some of them were so tame that when I reached down toward them, they would squat and let me pick them up.   
Anyhow, I hope this venture goes well.  It is not a money-making proposition, it's just me doing things I love to do.  We have decided the expense of travel is more than we can afford.  So if I'm going to be at home, I may as well have some critters to enjoy. 

3 comments:

TARYTERRE said...

My husband's parents were in the poultry business in the 1940's. They slaughtered them, plucked them and dressed them. When they made chicken soup they used everything including the feet. My hubby loved the heart and stomach when he was a kid. My dad on the other hand grew up having to pluck the chickens, so he hated eating it.

ingasmile said...

We started keeping chickens about 3 years ago this spring. It is one of the best decisions we have ever made. Yes, they do make travel more difficult. But we have good neighbors that will let them out and lock them up at night. They free range during the day and put themselves to bed at dusk. We have lost a few to foxes but we still seem to maintain the flock. Right now we have 4 hens and 1 rooster. I just bought 6 more pullets at the local farm store. We have butchered a few roosters along the way too. What a learning experience. They aren't the best tasting chickens as they don't have an ounce of fat but the stock is worth it's weight in gold!! We have the pullets in the spare bathroom, we love hearing them cheep!

Inga

Lori said...

Mom used to get a bunch of chicks every spring about this time and would keep them next to the wood-burning stove until the weather was warm enough and they were big enough to put outside.