Yesterday was largely devoted to chickens at all aspects of their lives on our farm. The first issue of the day was separating this hen from her chicks. This was hard. Here they were in the morning, perfectly peaceful.
The reason was because these chicks arrived in the mail in the morning,
The choices were to remove the hen and leave her three chicks in the secure pen or move all five of them out. We decided it was too risky to have this young of chicks loose in the barn so we moved the hen out. We couldn’t keep her in there since she would have attacked these new chicks. We had 17 live “male heavy” chicks, one dead and one almost dead. Here is the dead one.
I do not feel horrible about this because otherwise these chicks are culls. The hatcheries largely sell female chicks so the male (particularly the dual purpose breeds) are killed. Here is the brown one is the almost dead.
I spent a good portion of the morning trying to save this chick. I was dropping sugar water carefully into its mouth and warmed it up in a warm dryer. I finally got it to stand and cheep, but the next time I check on it, it was dead. Here are the other chicks in their pen with their heater and water, Their feed is just outside the photo. They seem to be doing well.
But the mother hen kept trying to break in. It was so sad to watch.
We collected eggs, of course. They are laying well now. Today I have hard boiled a dozen eggs and will dye them this afternoon. We should be able to get washed eggs in our produce stand today for the Easter egg sales.
The roosters are getting difficult. This hen has been especially picked on by them.
I put some anti-pick salve on her and hopefully that will help. One of the roosters is also picked on. He was acting like he was dying the other day. I moved him into a rabbit hutch with food and water ,and he is still with us.
We do keep our “resident” roosters with us to help protect the hens. This is Little Man hanging with one of Rasa’s hens. Tom and I were discussing that we never get his chicks. The reason is that he chooses the big hens that do not tend to go broody. It is our Leghorn hens that go broody. So we were thinking we should try to collect eggs from his hens and put them under a broody hen. Although he is not good for eating, he makes us smile and he protects his hens well.
I also planted peas, turnips, rutabaga and radish seeds in the garden yesterday. You wonder what this has to go with chickens. It is because we have placed shavings with chicken poop in the garden over the winter and now it is being incorporated into the soil to grown these seeds.
In the afternoon we dealt with the rooster issue. We butchered three of the roosters. One was a Favorelle rooster we had received from our friend Eliz as a chick. He was aggressive, even attacking Tom so he had to go. But we still have this brother so hopefully he will be a good rooster. Then we butchered two of the leghorn-cross hay-loft chicks from last year. Here they are before I plucked them.
The Favorelle rooster became our dinner. I used the Chicken Stuffed with Pistachio recipe from the Downton Abbey cookbook. The stuffing has hamburger (I substituted for the ground veal), a lot of butter, ground pistachios, ground almonds, an apple. an entire lemon zest, coriander, allspice, salt and pepper. I managed to forget to put the eggs in it. This was stuffed in the chicken, and it was then roasted with stock, celery, carrots and garlic for 2.5 hours. I then made a sauce with the strained cooking liquid with a roux. I managed not to think to get a photo until Tom had already carved it.
Here is the chicken with the stuffing and sauce on my plate. I did not feel like using fancy dishes today. I accompanied it with a Stirrup Cup from he Downton Abbey Cocktail Book. I will post about the cocktails later. But this dinner was so good. Very flavorful and different.
We watched Peanut Butter Falcon with dinner which was a great movie. And I completely forgot about the pandemic. It was nice. So I thank this chicken for providing us with dinner. I know this was not his choice, but the barnyard will be much happier and healthier, and we are too.