Wednesday, May 25, 2011

3:45AM, never again

We raise heritage breed laying hens. They take longer to get to maturity, they live longer, they are beautiful and they make the best eggs. These birds are good out foraging in the open and have the good sense to take cover when the hawk flies over. They get back on the roost at night, and eat up everything that moves in their vicinity.

So as we keep adding varieties of chickens to our mix, we thought about breeding some of the more endangered birds. The Sicilian Buttercups are listed as threatened on the American Breed Conservancy chicken list, the hens are quiet and beautiful, the eggs are a nice shaped white egg. What a perfect bird for anyone, especially a resident of a less rural area. So we grew a few roosters, selected one to be our breeder (beautiful, with an even temperament) and put him in a pen with a few of the Sicilian Buttercup hens.

And our boy turned out to be a dud. Never did his job of getting us fertilized eggs. Hens sat on the egss, we put them in the incubator for the right number of days, and nothing, just rotten eggs. Time passes, still nothing from the rooster, the eggs continue not to be fertile. Then the weather warms, the sun comes out every day. The rooster, who has been crowing at a regular interval, becomes an early morning crower. As in 3:45. Every single morning. And he does not stop at one crow, he gives a good one every 15-20 minutes or so. Our neighbor (about a half mile away) has a rooster who answers. Sleep..forget it!

With Claire, Matt and Laura's help Homer had gotten the chicken processing plant organized and under shelter. With Josh and Mo's help (they visited Monday night, stayed in the guest room, turning the fan on to mask the crowing rooster) they processed this years first batch of chickens. And included that rooster. Homer dispatched it, while Josh and Mo took care of all the bagging and getting into the cooler they had brought along. And the last I heard was one of my favorite sounds: people who love to cook, talking to about all the ways they can prepare what we have grown here on our farm. Josh was debating many things, the most obvious coq a vin, but salt curing and a few other acts were also mentioned. Can't wait to hear the results. Here they are at the stainless steel table:

And we had an all time first yesterday: a visitor from South Dakota! We are certain the residents of the state missed him..they have to all know each other don't they?!

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