30 Wishbones

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…

The plastic tent covers the pen to keep it from getting slopping wet and smelly. The goat barn is to the left and the aviary is in the background.

…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.

Chick waterer and feeder tray.

“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.”

“And?”

“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.

Our 3’x4′ brooder for 30 chicks.

“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.

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19 responses to “30 Wishbones

  1. Christine Widman

    You have a crow leaving wishbones in the water bowl……
    Here we suddenly have a neighbor’s cat leaving half eaten Desert Spiny Lizards on our outdoor rubber mats as evidence of what?
    That the cat loves us and wants us to appreciate his efforts at lizard control?
    That he is marking his predatory territory and for some reason has chosen our place instead of his own?
    That he has a vendetta out for spiny lizards and wants to show off his grisly victims as a warning to all lizards on our property.
    As you can imagine, I’m a bit unnerved by this and annoyed at this prowling cat.
    I love lizards and the Desert Spiny Lizard is quite a favorite with his jewel-like iridescent skin and his charming showing-off behavior of doing “push-ups” on tree branches.
    So….here, I guess, it’s the bone edge of the earth showing itself again.
    Still….
    I clap my hands loudly and say “Go home!!!” whenever I see the neighbor’s cat.
    C.

  2. Christine Widman

    I was pondering this situation as I hung up sheets on my clothesline.
    I realized that if a bobcat were leaving these tokens of his hunt on our doormat – which actually has happened once – I would be astounded and honored at this recognition of us in such a resplendent wild cat’s life.
    Interesting that the domestic cat’s tokens disturb me.
    I don’t want him disturbing the balance of lizard nature on our desert land.
    This domestic cat isn’t “home” when he’s here.
    Perhaps that’s it?
    Sigh.
    C

  3. Terri Cohlene

    Regarding the lovely photo , “Chick waterer and feeder tray:” I can’t help but think the new chicks might be more comfortable without the salt and pepper shakers… But maybe that’s just me, just thinking…

    HA! Terri

  4. What did the crow say to the other crow? You have a phone caw 🙂
    Hope you have your alarm set for the new arrivals and wishing you a warm welcoming and as always thanks for sharing your wonderful world!

  5. I would agree with you about the crow situation. We have Australian Ravens here that we call crows. Crows are amazingly smart birds and tossing a clean picked cooked chicken leg into your goats water is most probably them asking you why you don’t leave chicken out for them! Your friend in Tasmania is still working on her idea for the wishbones by the way, but at least we have them sitting there waiting for our creative juices to flow! I must say… our free range chicken is VERY different to what you get in shops. Not having kept chickens for meat (even as a side venture to deal with roosters) before we haven’t had the opportunity to compare. The meat is darker, tastier and the bones are more like the bones of wild birds…very light and in our case yellowish. They are also a whole lot bigger than regular chicken! Our wishbones could almost be used to yoke teeny horses! 😉

    I love the coloured eggs…obviously the chickens have an affinity with the yellow egg…the blue one looks lonely. I just used a golf ball that I found when we were walking one day and that worked fine. Perhaps Australian chickens are less fussy (or more likely less intelligent lol) than USA chickens?

    I had to laugh looking at your Chick waterer and feeder tray picture Christi, you have salt and pepper in the background! Ironic? A juxtaposition of sweet destiny? I was reading an article about “fake chicken”…soy stuff that I won’t eat. They were saying that one of the ways that you could take the suffering of industrially farmed birds out of the equation (making it apparently less of a conundrum for sensitive meat eaters) was to breed chickens without cerebral cortex’s making them more like vegetables!The day that happens is the day I remove myself from society altogether!

    Send over those wishbones…If I can get them through customs it would be like a solidarity for real food production and sustainable responsible living…I wonder if I could get wishbones from other parts of the world? Serendipity Farm could be the base point of some amazing wishbone art! lol (tourist buses…a little cafe…Fran travelling the world to explain her art…bollocks horticulture, Art is my new pathway! 😉 )

    • I put the salt and pepper shakers there for scale, the irony completely lost on me. So much for my literary skill — it’s all mostly accident, eh? Sweet destiny indeed.:)

      And about removing the sentience of chickens, I’m with you in leaving society altogether if that should occur. Chickens are not zucchinis. Chopping them from life is different. Our humanity is tested in how we raise and kill our food, it’s the Omnivore’s Dilemma. Perverting nature always backfires. When I was a kid, there was a TV commercial where Mother Nature was fooled by margarine expecting it was butter. “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!” she booms and lightening strikes.

      Thanks for your good nature, Fran, in accepting our wishbone art donation offer. Your wishbone vision is inspiring.

  6. Congratulations on the new chick additions! I think finding wishbones anywhere has to be good luck, right? Maybe it’s like a blessing from the sky- who knows?

    And how sweet of you for your sweet shout out. Joy beyond joys to be read by one of the funniest, funkiest, farmiest (um….I totally made that up) ladies around. Farm on, chicka!

    • Thanks, Wendi! And I agree about this wishbone being a blessing from the sky.

      I just looked wishbone up on Wikipedia: *The furcula (“little fork” in Latin) or wishbone is a forked **bone** found in birds **and some other animals, and is formed by the fusion of the two **clavicles. **In birds, its primary function is in the strengthening of the thoracic skeleton **to withstand the rigors of flight.* ** Cool, eh? Little fork. 🙂

  7. Sally Showalter

    The plastic egg switch-a-roo was quite clever. Very anxious to see your posts of the new babies. As for the bones by the crows?????? a good short fiction story.

    • Thanks, Sally. And the babies arrived and are growing like crazy. Really fast. I’ll post pictures next week of when they first arrived, and then after the first week.

      Funny you mention the crows as a good short fiction story. I was thinking of an element in a longer fiction…we’ll see. lol

  8. I love that you can tackle a goat … Congrats on your nomination 🙂

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