Week 31 – Don’t Cry Over Loose Chickens
Above Photo: Chickens in Transit – Loading our chickens from the coop to the livestock trailer.
The farm feels extremely quiet right now…nothing to plant, nothing to mechanically harvest and nothing being born. I say ‘mechanically’ because the cows and calves are always harvesting. Always. We have an egg layer swap to make happen next week. The current hens are at half production and are on the road to ‘completely spent’. At that rate of production, we actually lose money by feeding them every day. We have 250 more coming in their place that will be laying by the middle of September. That means we will have a window of no eggs for maybe a month. We debated trying to bring in the new batch and housing them separate from the hoop house until they started laying, but then we have to reintroduce them to the mobile chicken coop and they may stop laying while they get adjusted. Plus, it’s a lot more chicken wrangling than anybody here wants to deal with. Chickens aren’t exactly like cows…you can’t open the gate, show them to new grass, and watch them gallop as a group to your designated paddock. Chickens seem to move as a group until they don’t. And good luck catching those with independent personalities. Have you ever tried to catch a chicken? Some of these two-legged athletes have brought tears to my boys’ eyes. I’ve told Maddock and Graham to round up the few stragglers only to have the chickens dodge and duck their attempts time after time. Nothing frustrates a 5-year-old more than a quick, turn-on-a-dime laying hen. Correct that, nothing frustrates the young and old more than a chicken with Barry Sanders moves. (Barry Sanders was one of the greatest NFL running backs that ever played…he made some of the best defenders look bad with his shake and bake style of running). There is a potential upside to being out of stock in the egg category. Maybe the taste buds appreciate them that much more when they jump back on the inventory list.
For any of you readers who may be venturing into the world of urban chicken farming, I came across a comprehensive article called “How to Care for Chickens 101: Causes & Solutions for Chickens Losing Feathers” that is worth the share. I like to brag about our hens and how pretty they are; we lose feathers to molt, but none of the other causes mentioned in the article are an issue with our happy, healthy, pasture-raised beauties. My best advice: high quality of life, spend time with them, and share as much wide open space as you can provide them.
The rain gauge read 2.5 inches from the storms earlier this week. That is the most rain we have had in one system all year. The tank is full or at least full enough to coast into early fall without cracks forming in the black gold beneath our boots. I’m sure I’ll be watching the radar again with anticipation in early September after we drill our thinner pastures with more grass seed and legumes, but for now, I am going to enjoy the moisture. Now that I think of it, the birds seem to be a bit louder and extra chirpy this week. I bet the worms and bugs were ‘easy pickins’ after the storm and they all have full bellies.
It’s hard to believe the kids go back to school in 2 weeks. Our college intern, Cole, heads back to college next week. He will be missed and we have appreciated his hard work this year as he learned the ropes. All the little jobs don’t seem like a lot until the guy doing them leaves and we all sit around, add them up, and decide who has time to do them.
We have a few new products to announce this week. New to our inventory is a keto burger and pork patties. If you’re not familiar with keto, it’s a higher fat ratio diet. These burgers are about 55-60% lean vs our 75-85% lean ground beef. We also love our ground pork so much that we thought a patty would be a great addition. I know my wife will be happy…this is one of her favorite products we carry.
Thanks again for all your support this summer! I know everybody, including the Wallace clan here at the farm, have had crazy schedules and it’s not always easy to get consistent meals on the table. Be sure to take advantage of our sale going on until the end of the month. Use coupon code summersale18 to receive 18% off your order!