Catching Chickens

by on April 28, 2010
in Poultry

I spent last night catching chickens in Portland. I am continually amazed at the number of backyard chickens up here, it’s fantastic! I bought 10 layers from a family that just has too many, so I’m up to over 50 chickens now, over two dozen actually laying. What an adventure it has been to traverse this whole area, meet urban farmers, visit their city homesteads, and come away with some feathered treasures. I think we’ve finally got it down to a science. We get them at night, after they have already gone to roost (thank you Allegra for the tip!) and it makes it so much easier. Although my children have had fun chasing down chickens during the day. I finally got home about 10:30 at night and into bed after 11:00. Of course I had to check emails and then made the mistake of looking at Craigslist one more time before I nodded off. I thought William was asleep, but from the depths of where he was burrowed in the blanket I heard “See if there are any rabbits for sale”. Well that did it, we were up looking at rabbits for another hour. Apparently he’s got a hutch all ready for them so we’ll have those too.

The Cosmic Chicken and Zen and the Art of Bicycle Riding

It was a big day for Ephraim yesterday, he ran the gamut from contemplating the cosmos to catching chickens right along side me with the accomplishment of a long-held personal goal thrown in. We were making breakfast yesterday morning when the girls came running in with eggs they had found in the hen house. I was looking at them and said just off the top of my head “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” Zeke just looked at me and cocked his eyebrow the way he does, but Eph questioningly said “Huh?” So I replied “You know the age old question: Which came first the chicken or the egg? God created us, who created God? It’s a never ending cycle.” His face puckered up (he does that when he’s thinking hard) and he finally said “You mean there is no beginning and no end? It just is?” To which I replied “Yes” He thought about it for a second then put his hands on his forehead and said in true Ephy style “Oh man, that just makes my head hurt.” I love my kids, they sure know how to make me laugh!

Ephraim also learned to ride a bike yesterday. I know that doesn’t seem very earth shattering, but here at Real Food Farming it was a BIG deal. That kid has been working at it for months, literally, and finally yesterday that boy really flew. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so proud of himself. Ezekiel has yet to master it, I asked him why he doesn’t want to ride a bike when he’s so good on a horse and he just said “I don’t want to ride on anything that doesn’t have a brain.” I guess it’s a good reason.

The chickens are all on pasture now, and we are continuing to get ready for their June finish date. We are looking forward to visiting Afton Field Farm this Friday afternoon. They follow Joel Salatin’s methods as well and they have a great blog if you are interested in seeing their farm. Visit www.aftonfieldfarm.com and click on the blog link. It makes my heart happy to see a successful small family farm, we need lots more of them.

We are going to buy a manure spreader today (see the entry for April 22) and I’m feeling very nostalgic. Maybe we can get it running and I can plan a date night with William to try it out!

Laying Hens Are Here

by on April 24, 2010
in Poultry

Oh how exciting! We brought home 31 laying hens yesterday from a cute little homestead. The four E’s (that’s Ezekiel, Ephraim, Enoch, and Esther) went with me and had a marvelous time catching them and crating them for transport. While we were gone William built the chicken version of Buckingham Palace out in the barn. There’s a three level nest box with 18 laying spaces, walkways, ladders, a roost, and lots of space for our pretty birds. They adjusted well, and our one lone rooster in the henhouse was gleefully crowing by yesterday evening while the biddies pecked around and laid claim to their own spot. I absolutely can’t wait to gather fresh eggs! Marilla and Amie are going to have fun taking turns with the egg basket as well, in fact I think I need to find a good wicker egg basket…hmm…it looks like I’ll be antiquing a little bit today! I’m going to see how many eggs we get over the next few days and then I’ll be adding the pasture raised eggs to our purchasing options.