Sunday, June 11, 2006

Farm Report 06/11/06

The Three Stooges make their transition.

The three young roosters known as Curley, Larry and Moe, yesterday morning made their transition, from this...

To this...

The journey from coop to table was rather arduous. I shall have to go into the gory details sometime, but I'm just too tired right now!

The pieces on the table are only about half of what we got, the other half is in the fridge. We had to end up skinning them, because the plucking didn't go so well, especially the one I did... it was the first time I ever plucked a chicken, and, well, I made mistakes. Here is a photo...

The one hanging in the center is the one I did. Notice the tears in the skin. I tried to pull out too many feathers at once. I'll know better next time.

Perhaps we should have soaked them a bit longer. Pat's and Andy's came out better, but we still thought there were too many feather points embedded, so we decided to skin them. Andy starts with the one I did first, since it had the most damaged skin:

At this point, the chicken is starting to resemble the kind of product you would get at the supermarket. Before this, it's heads, feathers, blood... another story for another time. It was only now that I got the stomach to get the camera out. But after the skinning, comes the gutting... of which I didn't take any photos, so you will have to use your imagination. I'm pressed for time today, so I'm gonna just skip to the end of this story...

... which is dinner! By the end of the slaughtering and dressing the chickens, I thought there was not much meat; it hardly seemed worth it. But this chicken has very different qualities from store bought chicken. It's very filling. Because it had no skin, we had to fry it in batter. It will be interesting to see what a properly plucked roasted chicken would be like. Perhaps next time.

In the meantime, it's a relief to be rid of the three stooges. They were so cute and friendly when we first got them. But as they got older, and that rooster personality and agression came forward, I couldn't wait to be rid of them. They killed chicks. They fought with each other, and all the others. They had to be isolated together, and then they were becoming more difficult to handle. They started to bite me. In a way that was fine; it made it easier to slaughter them. But they weren't especially bad, they were just being roosters. Now I know why so many people eat the roosters; they are too big a pain to keep around.

In the wild, I think the alpha rooster mates with the females, and chases the other males away to the edges of the colony. They live on the fringes, and protect the colony. When the alpha rooster gets old, a challenger from the younger ones takes his place.

This pecking order works well in the wild, but is a nightmare in a farm situation. In confinement, the roosters can't get away from each other and fight. On a farm, chickens have to be confined most of the time, so you can collect the eggs. A rooster is not needed, except for breeding.

We have two more roosters, who were supposed to be hens with the sexed chicks we bought. I've isolated them now because they were causing problems. We call them Dumb and Dumber.

The only rooster I'm willing to put up with is Bertie Rooster, because he's only 8 inches tall (10 when he struts). And speaking of which...

A Star is Born

Bertie Rooster has become impossible to deal with, as his already inflated ego has swelled with pride due to the publicity generated by his attack on Miss Peace Moonbeam's friend Scooter. For those who missed it, you can read about the whole diabolical story here:

The Peace Moonbeam Chronicles: Rural Oregon

Here is a photo from that story, of that silly "Scooter" person whose eyes were nearly pecked out by Bertie:

Well thanks to Scooter, I think Bertie has developed a taste for human blood. He has started to bite my hand when I feed him. I think I'm going to have to dig out the my toenail clippers and trim his beak again.

Here he is, literally lording it over Cecil Rhodes, our largest rooster:

Bertie is also so smug because he has fathered such a lot of chicks recently. Here is a photo of the older ones:

Here is a photo of the youngest ones:

I think there are about 29 so far, with another dozen or so on the way. It's an invasion!

We "candled" the remaining eggs, found 4 definite duds, but most seem to be developing. Andy determined that there were now fewer eggs than hens needed to sit on them, so he gave Zsa Zsa Gabor her redundency notice. He put her back into the general population, and she was extreamly put out. So much so in fact, that she managed to sneak back into the nesting area. We think she did this buy pretending to take a dust bath near the door, then actually half buried herself and hid. Then she must have ran through when one of us steped through and our back was turned for a moment. Either that, or she has a magic invisibility cape like Harry Potter.

Several days later, Tannie and Aida Lota Slugs got into a major bitch fight like two roosters; I think they were fighting over eggs to sit on. Tannie got her face bloodied, and so I voted Aida off the Island. She went back into the general population, along with Zsa Zsa again for good measure. Now the only nest sitters are Tannie, Smokey and Turendot.

That's the chicken report. Now, onto the other poultry...

Water Babies

The phrase "water off a duck's back" is no longer just a metaphore to me, it's something I get to see several times a day now.

The first time I filled the pool for the ducks, I filled it completely to the brim. They would dunck their heads in it, but would not climb in or stay in if I placed them there. I emptied it to just a few inches, and they liked that for a while.

Recently I filled it to the brim again, and they dove right in. Now when I let them out of their pen, they go running to the pool, in joyous anticipation.

They can't seem to get enough of it. They bathe and dunck and spash around. They eventually get out and forage in lawn. When I try to get them back to their pen, they quickly dive into the pool again for one last splash-fest.

The still photos don't capture the beauty of the motion of their movements; it's like they become one with the water and the waves they are making. It's very soothing and relaxing to watch.

They also have a repetoir of sounds they make, sounds of contentment, which is also soothing. When they are done bathing, they like me to throw weeds and slugs in the water, so they can go foraging after them. In this photo, it looks like the dog is stalking the ducks, but he was just sniffing around when I called his name to make him look up at the camera.

It's Duckie Heaven here at Robin's Wood. End of farm report!


juanitagf said...

Ahh, memories of the good ol' days.

Anonymous said...

Talk about jealous. Miss visiting Gramps'farm! Hey - did you have to show the stooges alive - Dang. The results looked good though. Watch out for bird flu!

Chas said...


Bertie has been seeking an agent, because of all that publicity from that lefty website that picked up the story.

When he get's his contract, I'll see if we can garnish his wages or something for Scooter's bills. :-)