Saturday, June 15, 2013

Mother Clucker

With the news being what it is (going to war with Syria apparently, 'immigrants our strength forever' nonsense, spying on citizens now aok), its been a depressing week.  In other news, we have Nancy Pelosi somehow claiming that late term abortions are totally in line with her Catholic beliefs.  Why this cunt isn't excommunicated I'll never know.  Maybe eventually the Church will grow some balls and stop pretending that this kind of poison is acceptable.

More on that later though.  Right now I'm busy dealing with some new baby chickens we got last week.  Chickens are nothing new for us here in the Hanson household - we've had Golden Stars for nearly a year now.  The ease of keeping and cost effectiveness makes me wonder why more people don't keep chickens.  Every morning we wake up to fresh eggs, and our ant problems are non-existent this year. That's kind of surprising considering last year we got to deal with three ant infestations, and now we know when the ants are being killed because there's a flurry of activity as they dig for the queen.

The Golden Stars we have are known by many names - Golden Sex Links, Golden Buffs, Red Stars.  However regardless of what they're called they have the same traits: brown eggs, prolific layers, rather docile personality. They tend to look after themelves pretty well, and can deal with the heat out here in Arizona decently enough.  All the same, I have to make sure their water is cooled with ice two or three times a day.

The new ones we picked up are called Ameraucanas.  They're a breed off shoot of the Araucana, which had a fatal gene where it grew cheek flaps that ended up killing it (no really).  They also are known informally as "Easter Eggers" because they produce blue-green eggs.  Descriptions indicate that they're considered 'dual purpose', but I don't see how that is considering how they probably dress out at three pounds of meat. These chickens are also considered reliable layers, dropping about 300 eggs a year.  So far two of our chicks are skittish, while one is much more relaxed and prone to nesting.

When we make our move, we plan on keeping around ten chickens and a rooster.  No, you do not need a rooster to get eggs.  Roosters are there to help keep the hens in line, and also as a first line security solution.  We're planning on getting a Rhode Island Red, since its ten pounds of muscle with a "Glory or Death" mentality. I saw a thread online entitled "Woke up to this..." and it was a picture of a dead coyote with an RIR rooster on the corpse.  I've already lost two chickens to hawks.  In that case, the dog ended up scrapping with the hawk. However, that was after the hawk killed the hen.  I'm looking for a more preventative solution.

All you really need to keep chickens is a coop, feed, and cold water. That's it.  You don't even need the coop right away, as you'll be keeping the chicks in a brooding box with a heat lamp.  While it sounds fancy, a brooding box is basically a cardboard box or other structure you've appropriated for the purpose of keeping your chicks. Once they get all their feathers in, then you can start putting them outside. On that note, I'd also recommend buying your chickens as chicks and not as adults (known as pullets).  My reasoning is that raising chicks from scratch gives you a better feel for the husbandry, as well as not having to deal with other people's problems.  Most people who are selling pullets are mass raising them, so you're going to have a lot of breaking in issues.  When I bought two to supplant mine, I ended up having to deal with them running around the yard at two in the morning cawing loudly.

Be aware of what type of breed you're getting as well, since some are designated as meat birds and others as egg layers.  Some are dual purpose, but I'm not too hot on the idea of killing an egg layer when it takes five months for her to get to egg laying maturity.  I'm planning to buy twenty five Freedom Rangers and then process them over a long weekend after 11 weeks of growing.  They dress out at five or six pounds, and I'm thinking that I'll have chickens for the rest of the year and can sell any excess for a tidy sum.

Finally, I've been asked why I would raise chickens when I'm not making money off of them.  While I plan to do something about all these excess eggs in the future, right now I'm doing it for the simply joy of raising something with my own hands and enjoying the fruits of my labor.  This is the mentality behind my homesteading plan with the cow, the quail, the rabbits, and all the rest: To be able to take care of myself and my family in this most basic way. America is two generations removed from the soil, and look where we are.

Ain't no time to argue about how gender is a social construct when you've got a cow that needs milking, after all.

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