Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Chick, chick, chick

Newly arrived by post, the "Nuggets" spring
crop of Freedom Rangers find the food.

I have never done two flocks of meat chickens in a single year before, but it is happening this year. Our first flock of "Nuggets" as we jokingly call them, arrived the end of April and I expect to begin processing them -- starting with the largest ones and continuing over several weeks -- this coming weekend. This was a cold spring, there were "bird dogs" to deal with and we struggled early on to keep them warm enough. The large plastic dog crate did not lend itself to use of our usual heat lamp set up and the electric heater we bought was woefully inadequate. We lost more chicks that in all previous years put together, leaving barely two dozen in the flock that I had hoped to grow out and process before the bird flu, which we were warned about this year, spread to our area... which was why I started so early.

It worked, I guess, for the survivors, at least. There have been no more deaths since we got the birds set up on the back porch, in two totes, under lights, like we used to do. The electric mesh fence and their tarp-wrapped "tent" of chicken wire on a wood frame has kept any predators at bay while they ranged, during the day, and grew.

Despite the cost of feed, which has increased dramatically like everything else, I would still rather have my own birds in my freezer than trust "the economy" and the supply chain -- though the bird I bought at farmers market to celebrate the solstice was delicious. So I did some budget magic (I will be making sure that the electric payment does not arrive at its intended destination before my next social security payment arrives this weekend) and ordered birds last week, to ship today. They will arrive Thursday morning and I will hit the post office well before they are open to collect the critters. Which reminds me I need to stop by today, pick up mail from the PO box and give them a heads-up. They have not yet got the memo that, since I ordered them and have a tracking number, I KNOW when they will arrive and will be there. The lack of a telephone number still causes them to panic.

I am hoping that the nights, which these days are only dropping to 50 degrees, will not be too cold for the little dudes if I use the plant heat mat under their litter. I am also planning to order a heating pad that does NOT shut off, but it will not arrive until after the long weekend. I am also considering digging out one of the free-standing light sockets that I use under the sink cabinets in the master bath in the winter to help keep the water from freezing, and putting that in their crate as well, to add heat. I have incandescent bulbs, and even a red heat lamp bulb, I think, if it will work in the thing. May use too many watts, though. I will check, as I have a couple of days to get this set up.

Fergie tire for reference
Today, I will focus on a bit of laundry -- including washing two electric heated throws by hand -- and weed. Unless Tractor Guy decides that the ground is solid enough, after our bit of rain yesterday, to begin the process of removing the flat tire from Fergie.These tires are heavy, made especially so by being filled with beet juice (the weight is for extra traction) and we need to get it off the tractor and loaded into Artie for a trip to the tire store. Wish us luck!