Monday, June 30, 2008

Finished the Fence - Ate a Chicken

Hal finished the fence for the coop yesterday. He secured the plastic netting to the top with zip ties, then ran a nylon rope through the top on the diagonal to lift it a bit higher in the center. Then we opened the chicken door and sat back to watch nothing happen. Eventually, we went back into the house to watch TV and watch the coop through the window. Finally, the first head peeked out then disappeared back inside. Next time we looked over a whole bird was sitting on the ramp. Soon all 7 were outside having a wonderful time pecking at the ground and testing their wings. (I say 7 because the night before the crippled chicken passed on.)

They were able to enjoy the outdoors for about an hour then a thunderstorm rolled in and a torrential downpour caught them unaware. They were clueless and instead of running inside ran to the far end of the run and hid under a cross beam. I waited a few minutes till the rain diminished then donned raincoat and boots and tried to shoo them towards the door from outside the pen. Still clueless they wandered aimlessly so I went inside, bent over of course since the fence is only 5 feet high, and tried to herd them back to the ramp. No go. I had to grab the first bird I could, a barred rock chicken, the guineas are too fast and flighty, and popped him through the door. Did the others follow? No, so I had to grab another. When I managed to get the rest near the door, I persuaded one to head up the ramp and the rest followed. I hope when I let them out today going in on their own will be an easier concept for them.

Earlier in the morning we decided to kill one of the meat chickens which had developed leg problems and couldn't stand up. She was barely eating (compared to the ravenous frenzy of the others) and was definitely not gaining the weight the others were. Hal did the deed with a hatchet, I watched from a distance. Then we let it drain, scalded it by dunking the bird in 150 degree f water 3 times, then plucked the bird. Hal showed me how to gut it and I got to finish cleaning her up inside the kitchen sink while he finished working on the fence.

It weighed barely 2 pounds once the neck and feet were removed. Cut up and fried it was delicious. Hopefully, the other 19 will make it through to 8 weeks (they're almost 6 now) and we can have the Amish process them all at once. I'm looking forward to meatier birds and a much less smelly garage.

Assuming it doesn't rain today (it's very breezy and sunny at the moment) and things dry out, I could try painting the final coat on the coop.

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