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the crooked little chicken house
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“What about an electric fence option?”
“Could work, but the chickens are never inside the fence...that would be too sensible!
I wrestled chicken wire for days, and the pen is hardly even used. In the summer it is, but so far this winter they've been sticking to the trees.
So really - the chickens would probably be fine and safe if I kept them penned in and cooped up, but nooooo...besides, the little bastards fly over the fence.”
“Time to trim their wings and lock 'em up.”
“yeah, I've been wondering why I did all that work on the pen...
thanks for all the great ideas!
So...my first two thoughts on where the turkey was going were WRONG! Yesterday I worked on the coop, rearranging the roost and the nesting boxes so I didn't have to go under the roost to collect eggs. Got that all done, then decided to follow Judy's tracks, since earlier that day she appeared out of no where and came around the fence to say hi.
I traipsed out into the back field, thinking what in hell? when I came across a turkey egg on the snow that was frozen and half eaten by a mouse or something. The end of the line was at a hump in the snow where she has made a cave/nest in the hay. there were two eggs in there, but they were frozen. At first I wondered how she avoided the fox, but I bet nothing can even see her in there against the white of the snow. Cool beans for her. >:)
So back in the coop to rearrange some stuff again, thinking she can make some kind of cave/nest in the old cupboard I put out there. So far she's not having any part of it. She's cold for sure...tonight I'm going to make her a doggy type sweater out of a piece of fleece, see if that helps.
I also have parakeets, 4 of them, 2 males/2 females. A while back, one of the females had a boo boo under her wing, and I was thinking she scraped it somehow, or they fought. One of the males appeared to be doting on her, and I thought it was sweet. LOL...shortly after that there were mating chickens, and a turkey with a boo boo under her wing...
I just got back from the library with good entertainment for tonight - a guidebook to poultry breeds and raising rabbits.
Happy New Year everyone!”
“My chicken pen would hold livestock, 6' high, railroad ties 10' apart with a top rail, to hold the chicken wire up in the winter so the snow doesn't pull it down. Raccoons can get in the pen but the chickens can't get out unless they get up on the willow or like the wild South Amercia fowl just fly up to the top. They get their wings clipped when they graduate and start laying eggs and are moved from a small, movable cage to the big house. The rooster looks forward to that day.”
“twig...we used to keep a goat in or near the chicken pens to keep the varmits at bay...”
“I have one hen who has lots of back feathers missing...she must be slower than the other 7 hens...
the one who lost her tail - I wonder now if she lost it to the fox.
a goat! I used to be allergic to cow's milk, so we had a goat that my mom milked. it ate everything, including the apple tree in the front yard it was tied to. It died after that. Wonder how/why they keep the varmints away??
we had pigs too, that were always getting away...I was thinking of that as I was coming home one day last week and two black pigs were frolicking on the side of the road...I also remember being chased up a tree by a neighbor pigs...got chased by a cow once too...LOL...”
“Twig, I'm catching back up here, and have been enjoying your chicken tales. We have some chickens too, 23 total, and 3 guineas too. Only a few of them are old enough to lay (well, the few that are female, sheesh mostly we seem to get males). But the males will soon go into the freezer. Every other day or so we a cute bluish or greenish egg from our Americana. We're farther south than you, in WNC, so frozen eggs ain't an issue, but the next week of nights will their first in the low teens.
When you dip your kilt chickens into hot water to get off their feathers, do you torch their remaining feathers, or what tips do you have when freezer prepping?”
“Thanks ape! People often ask me why I did this, and I say I can't remember…so far it’s entertaining and very interesting to me and I’m glad others enjoy reading about it. :)
I used a dull knife to help grip whatever feathers didn’t come right off. If the feathers are dry it helps. Next time I would dip the birds in hot water with paraffin which is supposed to remove those feathers. I wanted to do it that way, but my farmer step-dad nixed that idea since he’d never done it that way before. However, once the plucking commenced he thought it might have been a good idea. I’m not sure but the paraffin might take the skin with the feathers.
Plucking the Cornish Giants we did in July was different than the Barred Rock I just did. I dipped the Giants in hot water, but still had some hard pin feathers left. I think if you burned them off, the root of the feather would stay in the skin. However, the Rocks feathers came off easily, with no dipping, and that bird did not have the hard pin feathers. Skin came off as well, but that was fine. It’s a skinny bird compared to the Cornish Giants, which made pulling the viscera more difficult - my hand barely fit inside the bird. Brought back memories of working in the chicken plant and hearing nightmare stories of workers reaching inside birds with broken ribs…
I used my food saver for freezing, patted the meat dry before bagging it. I froze the chickens whole, but they weighed around 6lbs, so I’d cut some up next time, maybe even grind some for burgers since we like that. I boned and sliced the turkey, and I’d weigh and label packages as to what was in each package next time (unless I opt to take them to the butcher, who would do that for me). The lamb I got is packaged like that and it’s handy.
I’d definitely set up differently for dispatching next time as well. I doubt that my step-dad will help again – he really doesn’t like killin’ – so I’ll use paraffin and have more of an assembly line set up. An outside sink would be awesome, and a work table that is a good height would be great.”
“This is one of my favorite threads. :-)”
“Lordy, Twig, you're waxing the chickens? LOL! Just don't go Brazilian!”
“What a mental image.”
“I think I have Judy’s schedule down – if she’s going to lay an egg, she leaves the coop and sleeps in the field. Otherwise, she tolerates the coop. She lays an egg about every three days. I traipsed out to the nest in the field and got a really big egg. Me and Austin cracked it and it had a double yolk. Finally a picture! The eggs are in Austin’s small hands. Our chicken eggs are all medium sized.
I took some books out of the library to entertain me over the new year holiday…two on chickens and one on rabbits. (before I read too much about rabbits, I had to read about dispatching them, see if I thought I could do it) It’s fun reading about the different breeds of chickens and I learned a few things. A friend of mine is grossed out by the little red spot that is sometimes found next to the yolk. She equates it with nasty store bought who-knows-what-they’ve-done-to-them-eggs, but I’ve seen it in mine. It’s called the “meat spot” and comes from a blood vessel breaking during the egg production process. I also thought that pale egg yolks meant older eggs, but the color of the yolk indicates the living conditions and nutrition of the bird.
One night it was quite cold and I covered Judy with a piece of purple fleece which was on the floor of the coop in the am. I definitely need to add a second tie and tie it under her, or it will never stay on.
The tips of the rooster’s comb have all turned black. It seems that other parts of the comb that were black are no longer black. The one Red hen that looks like she gets a lot of attention from the rooster is a very nice shade of red – the same shade you see on many women who color their hair red.
Due to the 17” of snow we got over the last few days, Judy’s nest has to be covered. Last night she disappeared and I followed her tracks this am. She went behind the pen, nestled into a pit, and laid her egg.
She is so weird.”
“wow, look what I did! posted a pic in a thread...LOL...
thanks Stovie... :)
Treebait, that is quite the image!”
“The eggs look great. The turkey egg looks big placed next to the chicken egg.”
“they aren't all that big, just that one.
Another thing I would like to know has to do with the speckling patterns on the turkey eggs. Sometimes it looks like the color is dragged, and other times there are bare spots...”
“I switched to skinning my cornish x when I butchered them, seemed easier then bringing a dutch oven of water to a boil then dipping the bird in and having to smell cooked, wet feathers. I rigged up a wire on a branch to hang the bird on so I could skin an eviscerate it.”
“LMAO Stovie w/ your favorite thread bit!
Twig, I'd like to know how that paraffin thing works out, I doubt your gonna prefer it tho. Seems like the clean-up would be hell. Not only that, you're gonna likely have some left on the animal, regardless how well you clean/soak it.
Interestingly, Italians have a unique kill system. Gianni, my Italain father, gets the head of the chicken/rooster in his fist, exactly like you'd pretend to snatch a child's nose off and show it to him. Puts the head between his first 2 fingers and uses his thumb on the back of the head as a fulcrum, or pressure point. He grips the bird on it's upper legs with the other hand to hold and steady it. Gianni then stretches the bird's neck over his (Gianni's) thigh, firmly stretching out the bird, and then snapping it's neck with his thumb and gripping hand. He then hangs the bird unpside down by it's feet, reaches a small blade thru it's beak into the back of the throat, and cuts the jugular inside it's mouth. The bird will momentarily begin a muscle reaction flapping, there-by pumping out most of it's blood.
Our nights are hitting 8 to 11 degrees, but the only thing I'm really having to watch is water freezing. But every later morning and evening when I let them out and lock'em back up, I take a watering can of hot water to top off their watering pans.
Is the picture thing pretty easy Stovie and twig? I'm not exactly what you'd call "technical", hehe.”
“HikerD, is it as easy as skinning a furry animal? It sho do stink to dip'em in boiling water.”
“Of course this is one of Stovie's favorite threads...
supposedly all the parafin comes off with the feathers/skin...I'll find out when I try!
Couldn't Gianni avoid all that man handling and just hang them upside down, then slit the carotid? Snapping the neck is supposed to cause them to be harder to pluck...though chopping the heads off is the same thing, 'cept I wouldn't know the difference.”
“Izat what you do twig, hang'em upside down and slit the carotid?
I don't get how snapping/chopping the neck is supposed to cause them to be harder to pluck tho.”
nope, we chopped their heads off with an ax, which is why I made that last statement. But next time I'm trying the hanging upside down thing, since I doubt I can hold a chicken and wield an axe at the same time.
Supposedly breaking their necks causes their skin to sieze, thereby the pores shrink and the feathers are stuck. or something like that, who knows.”
“Just read the article at that link, Twig. "Peeling it like an orange." ROFL!”
“there are some good ones out there treebait...”
“I cut their heads off and hung them upside down from the fence, bled 'em out and took them into the house to stick in the boiling water. Back outside for the plucking.”
“I used my camping stove to boil water outside.”
“naked ape, yes, skinning is similar to a rabbit. I hang them both by their feet, cut a circle around the knee, start a spot for a grip, then pull. Cut around the tail, pull the skin/pelt off over the head, gut. I used to be able to pluck and gut a chicken in 15 minutes, but got slower at it so I went to just skinning them. The Cornish Cross are the best for meat, egg layers take too long to get filled out and have the narrow and skinny breast.
The rabbits would get hit over the head with a square piece of wood, the chickens would get their heads cut off and bled, when they finish kicking, I could start skinning. I quit rabbits years ago, I didn't like the strong taste and I am the only guy who had poor results getting rabbits to reproduce. My work situation prevents me from having any animals at this time. Edible or otherwise.”
“Thanx hikerD! Nimble, whut the..... take'em INSIDE for their bioler bath ......... dang, SHEW. Don't that stink up your house, ..... perhaps it's a barn?
Woops, gotta go back, missed the peeling like an orange thing. Duane's method melikes.”
“Not a lot of difference between my old farm house and a barn. Besides, I'm single (and can do what I want):)”
Judy has been crowned Queen Mother since it appears that she chased off the fox yesterday. I was home due to a water issue, and heard her talking up a storm. I went out to see what was up, and she was pacing back and forth on the path, yakking away, looking toward the neighbors. I checked out the area and saw paw prints in the snow, and it looked like the fox had jumped then ran off. Count is still 8 hens, 1 rooster, 1 turkey.
Later on, when I was in the cellar I heard her yakking it up again, and it was my friend arriving to help with the water. She's a pretty good watch turkey. :)”
“Years ago, when my neighbor's son was 2 or 3, his sister was walking him thru my property and the rooster jumped him and made him cry. Later, whenever he got hurt, he would say "wooster did it". His mom thought that was cute.
Keep away from onery roosters, those spurs of theirs hurt. I had the sore legs to show whenever they got feisty with me and tried to boot them. Ouch!”
“Judy is a Hero!”
“When you see what nimble wrote...does anyone else think of the Booktastic Bus driver on South Park?”
“got home late last night and the coop was quiet - then I remembered that it was day 3 or so and Judy was out in the field laying her egg...”
“Been eating frozen turkey eggs lately?”
“She was out again the night after that...so I guess there are two frozen turkey eggs in the field somewhere, likely eaten by some rodent...the snow is deep and it's been very cold, so I haven't gone searching for them. We are getting 7-8 eggs a day from the chickens, though after today we'll be getting 6-7 per day...the fox returned and bagged a Red this am...
I heard the "fox in the henhouse" clucking this am, but had heard it another morning about 5am, went out, nothing there...so I chose to ignore it this morning. I looked outside when I got up and all seemed well...though it was odd that since Judy was in the henhouse it was still closed up. Usually she knocks the "door" down to they can all get out, but they were all still inside.
Once the chickens saw me, they piled out and all seemed well. Then I walked down the shovelled path to my truck and there was a dead chicken in the path. She must have gone out before the others and the fox snagged her. It ate her head (I did read that they like that) lots of her body, and took her egg and ate that as well. There were shells on the pathway. At least it ate a lot of her so she wasn't totally wasted. This spring I'm bulding a winter run - starting with a new brood if I have to.
Judy being cold bugs me...she seems okay until it gets around 20ish...I've tried various "jackets" and think I've finally found one that works. I just had to get it around her wings. She lets me put it on her, and seems to keep it on. She's a good chickee but I probably should have shot her too.
My father (not the farmer) told me I should harvest the birds before winter. That seemed to defeat the purpose...you get chicks in May, they don't start laying until October, then you dispatch them...I do love the fresh eggs though...”
“I twiggy says it's cold, it's COLD.”
“$#@#@$@$#@$@$ edit 'feature'!!!!!!!!”
“I kept my layers for about a year and a half, did them in when the young hens started laying good and the old molted. Tough old birds, tried eating them, not worth the hassle, just buried them.”
“My Grandma always made chicken-n-dumplings from the older hens. Longer boiling will tender then up.”
“yeah, what the heck is up with that? I tried twice on my earlier post and gave up...
"the snow is deep, it's been very cold" - meaning that walking outside is like walking on ice until you break through the crust and scrape your shins...I'm still just wearing a sweater dearest stovie, LOL...
Yeah, the guy I split 6 turkeys with (his didn't make it to the table) had chickens and was pissed because when they molt they don't lay...said he wasn't feeding something that didn't give back, LOL...but his wife refused to eat them so I don't know what he did with them. He didn't want to talk about it...
maybe grind the older ones up for chicken burger...”
“...I'm still just wearing a sweater dearest stovie, LOL... - twiggy
I bet your bottom is really rosey. ;-)”
“Since we've been getting frozen chicken eggs, I put a larger heat lamp in with a floodlight shaped bulb. It seemed warmer...
This am it was around 10 below zero - I had hopes that Judy and company would be all comfy inside the coop today, but nope - soon as Judy saw me, she started "barking" and pushed down the barrier...silly turkey...
“It was semi dark when I got up Friday morning - looked outside and there was a dark object on the snow...I knew it was a dead chicken. The rest were still in the coop again...an ominous sign...I found two of the Reds carcasses, one out back and one under the neighbors tree. No sign of the other one. That puts us at 3 Black hens, 1 Black rooster, and 1 Red hen. Plus Judy.
Later in the morning an eagle flew over...we said, "another predator!"
I have netting that I bought for overhead that we never put up. Guess we have our work cut out for us in the spring.”
“Lawsy twigs! In WNC it's finally warmed up a tad bit, so I'm not having to carry hot water every morning and evening. Since it's warmed up, we're gonna "dispatch" 3 roosters this week. Think I'm gonna print out a chicken body diagram to teach the kiddies with, and then allow them to each dissect their own rooster, b4 going into the freezer. We just have too many roosters and 2 of our gals must be akin to lava on the chicken hottie scale, poor thangs.
I'll let ya know what insane things the kids might say about the process. We've never done such a thang b4.”
“I have always been fascinated by dissecting things. For 5th grade science I caught a fish then took it to school in a bucket and dissected it. Critter behavior fascinates me as well...
The kids were very interested in the hens innards - especially the whole egg thing.”
“Yeah, I had one red hen who looked "popular" LOL...”
“This morning Ariana looked out the bathroom window and said that something had knocked down part of the fence into the snow. I said there was a section that was lower, but she insisted I come look. There were tracks all over the snow, and the fence was down just like she said. No sign of dead chickens though.
I looked out the door and saw a huge hole in the snow, with no tracks to it...I saw a couple more with about 10 feet between each of them, so got my shoes on to go outside. Judy came running up talking a blue streak...she looks so cute when she tries to run...kind of a waddle/run, LOL.
Apparently something jumped a deer and it ran from the road through the field, taking down the fence as it went. When it jumped over the other side it must've cleared the fence since that side wasn't down. Other tracks out there as well, but I didn't check them out since I counted 5 chickens. I couldn't see where the deer came from, as the tracks first appeared at the end of the driveway. Something must have chased it down the road. I'm afraid it may have been the neighbors dog(s). It looked like whatever it was tried to cut the deer off, as it came into the field at an angle from down the road near the neighbors. Or it could have been coyotes - I guess I should check it out in the morning.”
“I scared a young buck to death a couple years ago. I was working on a vehicle and went over to the garden to move the hose and spooked a deer, it ran into my empty chicken pen. I had one end open for easy access which is the way it went. It ran into the fence on the other side and I guessed died from a heart attack. I had to haul it up into the woods a mile, didn't want to get caught with it.”
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