My First Flock in Years

ihatedarkroast

Chirping
Sep 28, 2021
41
92
79
Martinsville, Virginia, USA
Here's a few pictures. Some are from two weeks ago, and some are from yesterday.
Lacey, Delaware, Sadie and Marie. Out of those, only Delaware is a hen, the rest are pullets and haven't started laying.
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Minette (pullet, not related to rooster), Beethoven, Delaware, Lacey
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Sadie in foreground. Background: Delaware, Marie, Martha, Minette
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The turkeys, Smokey and Deep Fried, want in on the action. That was two weeks ago. They were the same size as the chickens then.
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This week
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They have their own run now. In two weeks they got huge!
new run 2.jpg

new run.jpg

The brown eggs were given to us by a friend. The blue are from Martha and Madea. The dirty white one is new! I think it's the Delaware chicken we sometimes call Mother Clucker, who just finished molting. (She had major 'tude while in molt.)
neweggs.jpg
 

ihatedarkroast

Chirping
Sep 28, 2021
41
92
79
Martinsville, Virginia, USA
jumbo eggs.jpg

Checking in:
I am getting 2-4 eggs a day now. Huzzah! I tried a coop light, but it was too bright. Then I tried a strand on top, but it was too dim. Finally I started flipping on floodlights on the porch of my house which lights the yard just slightly. For some reason, that tricked them into laying more. Also, I've started giving the flock afternoon free range time when the dog is tied up for a few hours. I now get nice dark orange yolks. Yay! The girls are also getting pumpkin and a lot of restaurant produce scraps. They love to climb through the wood pile where we split wood for the stove. My husband pulls apart the rotten logs and catches beetles for them to eat, the sweety-pie!

Methinks 4 eggs a day out of 7 hens/pullets isn't too bad for December. The bottom left speckled egg is probably the seabright marans mix, but it could be the gray marans/cochin mix's. The teal eggs are definitely the Ameraucanas'. The smooth brown I think is the gray marans/cochins, but again could be the seabrights. Those two lay one after another so it's hard to check under them. I think the wyandotte may be laying speckled eggs as well, but I'm not sure as she's molting still. The pink egg is a mystery! I think it's the Delaware as she is now finished molting.

I also noticed I have 2 extra large eggs! Woohoo! I thought I would be stuck with medium eggs forever. I wonder if there are two yolks inside. We'll find out. I'm hoarding eggs now for Christmas baking.

FYI, the turkeys have doubled in size. Last time I checked, one was 14 lbs and the other 11 lbs. I think the 14 pounder might be a tom. We were going to send them to freezer camp today, but now I have to work. So we'll be doing it on Monday instead. Phew. I'm not looking forward to it, but I did know this going on when I bought them. 😢
 

ihatedarkroast

Chirping
Sep 28, 2021
41
92
79
Martinsville, Virginia, USA
Christmas is coming. Aaaand, last night we gently moved the turkeys on to their new home in the fridge. 🥺
This was our first experience with slaughtering birds. It went very smoothly, but we were a little sad, as the BBW's were so gentle and trusting.
They were only 12ish weeks old. So they dressed out to 14.6 lbs and 12+ lbs each. I'm guessing they were live weight 18 lbs and 15 lbs? We had to do the deed under the cover of darkness while wearing headlamps out by the garage while my mother watched our kids so that my son wouldn't know what was going on. I hope he isn't heartbroken today. I'm a bit anxious about that.
I have never plucked birds before. It wasn't too bad, just very tedious. And VERY COLD. It was so cold out there, that any water that dripped from the carcass onto the table froze instantly. Our fingers, faces, and feet were numb. Which made it harder to pinch the quill stubs out. I also didn't get a chance to withhold feed the last day, as I didn't have a place to isolate them. So it was a tiny bit messy, but still not as bad as dressing a deer.
Now we let the carcasses rest in the fridge. They don't look too bad. Such small birds should be perfect for our size family to not have a ton of leftovers. What will they taste like? They were eating a lot of pumpkin and bread towards the end.
Cost breakdown: 2 bags chick starter $14, 2 bags meat bird crumble $20, 1/2 bag scratch grain $5. $40 roughly or $20/per bird. We paid about $1.65/lb of dressed bird. Not including offal.
Unfortunately, the dog dumped out the bucket of guts and ATE IT ALL while we were in the house scarfing down ravioli afterwards. At 4 am, he was wailing with a tummy ache. SERVES HIM RIGHT! LOL.
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ihatedarkroast

Chirping
Sep 28, 2021
41
92
79
Martinsville, Virginia, USA
Those sound like perfect sized turkeys. Love this thread, thanks for sharing your flock!
Thank you! It's been fun this year!

Oh, so my 3 yr old did not react much to the turkeys being gone the way I dreaded he would. He went out to feed them, saw the pen was empty, and said, "They must be playing outside." He gave them some fresh straw in their bed and went on to play with his dump truck. Phew!

New adventure now. There was a lady on Craigslist advertising a free rabbit near us. So we went and picked him up. Here he is.
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He is a 5 month old chinchilla rabbit, used for meat and fur. He is so adorably soft! I hate rabbits as a rule. They bite, they scratch, they scream, they are too wild and smelly for me. They poop and spray on everything and chew holes in walls and floors of your house. IDK why people like them as pets.
But this rabbit as far as rabbits go, isn't so bad. He doesn't bite or scratch. He's very quiet, but will sort of let you touch him. He knocks his food and water over several times a day though. I'm going to have to go to Walmart and get a real rabbit waterer. I'm also going to have to cobble a hutch together out of scrap wood and leftover fencing in the shed.
My husband wants to eat him. I'm sort of getting attached. My son is in love, of course. So if we do eat him, we'll have to be sneaky again. If we like the meat, we might get more. I've only ever had rabbit shreds in Brunswick stew. I couldn't tell it apart from the pork or chicken. This will be a new experience for me. I wonder if I can do anything with the hide? Last time I tried with a deer hide, I just didn't have enough time with hands free and ended up throwing it out.
Ah, also I forgot to mention, on of my chickens has been consistently laying soft eggs with a rough, crumbly shell. I have to figure out which one and what's wrong with her. I think it's a molting pullet, but not sure.
 

ihatedarkroast

Chirping
Sep 28, 2021
41
92
79
Martinsville, Virginia, USA
Happy New Year!
Hope everyone's coops are full of eggs and free of drama. But it's chickens we're talking about so...
I solved the mystery of the soft eggs. It was the little black pullet. I don't know what happened. But they gradually got harder and regained their nice dark brown color. Now she's laying totally normally again.
My sweet, gentle rooster has become a holy terror. It's not his fault. My toddler kept chasing the chickens and picking them up and throwing them to make them flap. (Behind my back, of course.) Finally, the rooster had enough of that and started attacking my son, trying to scratch his eyes out! I kept finding the lad face down in the dirt wailing with Beethoven sitting on top of his back, triumphant defender of the flock.
Now Bruce is terrified to go near the chickens, even to collect the eggs. :( But it's just as well as my little black hen, the Seabright/Marans cross that is always causing truble has gone ferociously broody. She is trying to hatch...
A CANDLE. Yes ladies and gentlemen, she is going to sit on that candle stub and hatch it no matter what! We are on day three of broody time. I couldn't find any eggs yesterday, and finally found a secret nest the other hens had made away from her growling gaze.
This pullet is so dedicated, she even went growling after the 50 lb dog and made him back off!
The result of all of this is better behavior from everyone though. My son is leaving the chickens alone. The rooster is leaving my son alone. The dog is leaving the chickens alone. The dog is leaving my son alone too (he can be too boisterous when he tries to play).
I wish I could let the mean little thing hatch some eggs but alas, it's the dead of winter. I don't think she could keep them warm enough unless I set up a brooder just for her. I don't have time to do it. I still need to build a proper rabbit hutch for Mr. Rabbit. But I don't even have time for that as I have to spend a lot of free time scrounging up wood for the wood stove. And my restaurant is short of help, so Sunday is my only day off, half of which is church.
Oh, one of the Araucana's has gone into hard molt. She looks quite pitiful. I feel for her in this cold. Tonight I might lock her into the hen house with broody biddy. None of the other chickens will sleep in the hen house, even in the bitterest cold. I stick them in there, they all come piling out and prefer the roof. I worry, but I suppose they're alright. If it gets into the teens again, I'll start locking them up.
Ok, until next time. Good luck!
 

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