I’m nesting. Expecting. I clean and cook and brood. I haven’t left the farmlet in the truck for over a week. Everything I do is in preparation for 30 baby Cornish Broiler chicks due to arrive in the U.S. Mail Delivery Room this week on Thursday morning at 5:30 — less than 48 hours away.
While the Bearded One labors on the meat bird pen, clearing the brush from the hillside to make foundations for the coops, mixing concrete for setting fence posts and building a gate…
…I clean the barn and, for the first time ever, maniacally rake the entire barnyard. The hens help. Best to have everything done when the babies arrive.
And then I see it. There’s a chicken leg bone in the goats’ water trough. It looks cooked, and I am flabbergasted.
How does this keep happening? Last week I fished a chicken wishbone out of the same container. Also cooked.
The Bearded One tells me that when he took eggs to the neighbors, they discussed the increased crow activity lately. His guess is that the wishbone and drumstick were delivered by a crow stopping in for a drink. Sounds right to me.
My friend in Tasmania keeps the wishbone of every rooster they cull to create an artwork. I marvel at the idea and tell the Bearded One, who says, “Artwork entitled, ‘I wish I wasn’t a rooster.'” I laugh, then he says, “Oh, I got your wishbone,” and I tell him to chill. The chicks have hatched by now and will be in the mail very soon.
I stop by the aviary and gather two unpecked eggs from the first chicken nest. We read about using plastic eggs as a distraction and a decoy to stop egg pecking, and I’m happy to report that between the plastic eggs and gathering the eggs several times a day, we haven’t had another pecked egg. Whatever mysteriously caused it has mysteriously passed.
One more day and the chicks will be here. Baby chicks without a mother, like our little meat chicks, need a brooder, which is an indoor enclosure with a heat lamp, food tray and special waterer. I start cooking at 8 am. A casserole, a pie, and broiled teriyaki store-bought chicken. The Bearded One goes to the hay and feed store and brings home a brooder light fixture, 250 watt heat bulb, and a couple of baby chicken waterers.
As he lays the items on the kitchen table, he quotes the hay and feed guys at random. “All that matters is the base size. The diameter. Too big and they walk into it and poop.” He holds up the red-based plastic chicken waterer/baby bottle.
“Baby turkeys will drown. Other chicks are smarter. Just hold the chick like this.” He cups his hand like a chick on the edge of the waterer . “Then poke its beak into the water for a second or two. Lift it back, watch ’til it swallows, and voila, it’s trained and all the other chicks will copy it.”
I’m all ears and want to hear moremoremore. “They’re not like our layers at all,” he says. “They’re disgusting.” We’ve heard this, that they are bred to grow so fast that they’re lethargic and sit in their own poop until they are “harvested” at 8 weeks of age. “I told them that we had a big pen all set for them when they’re old enough, that we were going to put a couple of the little bantys in there as role models so they’ll move around more.”
“They weren’t hopeful.”
“Hmph,” I say. “We’ll see. I’m hopeful.”
“They did say that the meat is great, though. They likened it to the difference between home-grown and supermarket-bought vegetables.”
“That’s because they’re humanely raised,” I say.
“I meant to tell you, I talked with Momma Goose on the road this morning and she asked if we were ready for the blessed event.” She’s the one who ordered the chicks from a hatchery in Texas for herself, us, and one other family. She’s our coach and midwife. “I told her we’re getting there.”
We’re using an outbuilding we call the hut to house the brooder. It’s close to the house. We have rough-cut cedar and plywood to construct the 12 square foot enclosure, and a tarp and trash bag lining for the floor. The first few days we’ll use paper towels over that, to give the chicks better footing. Their tiny, brittle legs can get malformed permanently from any slick flooring. After they learn how to eat from the feeder tray, we’ll use peat moss for litter. Until then, they’d just eat the peat moss.
“What about Simba?” I ask. Momma Goose’s little Pomeranian dog went missing two weeks ago.
“Still gone,” says the Bearded One. “She’s pretty sure an eagle got her. It’s still hanging around.”
The stork giveth, and the eagle taketh away, I think and decide to keep every one of the 30 wishbones we’ll have after we eat these chickens. Maybe I’ll mail them to Tasmania to go in the art project.
* * *
NEWS FLASH: Thanks to Fran at www.theroadtoserendipity.com for nomiating Farmlet for the Illuminating Blogger Award! The Bearded One and I are tickled.
I have copied the rules for accepting this award and I am sharing them here.
Here’s the breakdown of the rules:
1. The nominee should visit the award site and leave a comment indicating that they have been nominated and by whom.
2. The Nominee should thank the person that nominated them by posting & including a link to their blog.
3. Share one random thing about yourself in your blog post.
4. Select at least five other bloggers that you enjoy reading their illuminating, informative posts and nominate them for the award.
5. Notify your nominees by leaving a comment on their blog, including a link to the award site (http://foodstoriesblog.com/illuminating-blogger-award/).
So about me, I can tackle a goat running flat out but I can also fall flat on my face trying to do it.
I enjoy many blogs, but here are five that I visit frequently and love.
http://www.fastgrowtheweeds.wordpress.com — full of wonderful info on living lightly on the land by an architect and DIY genius.
http://www.scarsandallyoga.wordpress.com — Wendi is a cancer survivor and yoga maven and a dang good writer. She hits a chord in me with her every post, as in, “Yeah, that’s just how it is.”
http://www.pierrmorgan.wordpress.com — Pierr is an artist extraordinaire and her drawings and photos are the real thing.
http://www.kunstler.com — James Howard Kunstler posts on Mondays about contraction, economics and peak oil. The Bearded One and I love him and his writing, including his fiction.
http://www.thedragontalking.blogspot.com — Brian Rush is a great thinker and writer and I almost always am illuminated by his posts. I love his novels also.