The Next Chicken Step
Now we've got the egg production up and running -- 227 eggs as of today -- it's time for the next step.
Rebuilt the bigger cage to make it easier to access for cleaning, and got three nice new chicks (featherball stage) from the Triple Nickel Farm on Highway 112.
The process now is: buy new chicks when the older hens are cycling down (not yet, but will come soon enough), get a big rooster for the older hens and let 'em go on the hill behind us to have a few days/weeks/months of freedom. Better than being slaughtered for soup or braise.
The hill is the breeding home of eagles and other predators. They don't hunt near their nesting area, and they keep down other predators.
I was perfectly willing to try slaughtering chickens, but when I was talking about the whole recycling process, Dan's face crinkled up in distress. He was raised on a chicken farm, and had to kill a lot of them. He just doesn't want to do the same with two hens he considers family pets. So the girls will get an end-of-life vacation.
The new chicks are mixes; a black Arucana mix, and a couple of red/gray mottled things. They cost two bucks apiece. They're still scared, but they know where their compfy grass-lined nest is, as well as the food and water.
After a lifetime of not really eating eggs because Dan can't eat store eggs, we don't really eat a lot of eggs ourselves. Most of them are now part of the swap system with our neighbors, for cleaned, packaged salmon fillets and elk-burger and trout and ling-cod and halibut. Both sides of the swap think they've made out like fat rats and gotten the better end of the deal.
I'm going to check with the co-op and see if we can't just trade for milk, cheese, butter and yogurt. If you've got chickens, you've got a cow.