August was a blur!! Birthdays, dogs, 4-H books, fires, harvesting, dogs, the fair, starting school, butchering chickens, and did I mention dogs? I thought about writing a post called “How to say no to more dogs”….wait, we don’t know how to say no to more dogs. I guess the post should be called “How to spend $2,436.70 on dog food every month”.
(OK, I exaggerated a little, or a lot, but SHEEEESH!)
Anyway, here are a few pics of our crazy August.
The chicks I ordered at the beginning of August are all doing very well. Four more months and we should have fresh eggs again, at least more than two a day!
I love grocery shopping in the garden!!
We got a new food processor!! Just in time to help with harvest. Thanks Aunt Stella!!!! We LOVE it! (Can you tell by the look on Mary’s face?)
This is Mary’s bantam hen “Tiny” and that is a small snake she has. She stole it from one of the other hens and slurped it down like a noodle! I had a little trouble keeping my breakfast down after watching that.
In my last post I mentioned that we told Jo that she could have a puppy for her 11th birthday. It took a little while to find one, but she did.
I really don’t think he could be any cuter and she is IN LOVE! Meet Rebel:
Two days after she brought Rebel home, Jade came home and brought his dog. He had to leave him with us because he couldn’t find a house or apartment where he could keep a pit bull.
Seriously!? Who could not love that face!!
We missed Gunner and are glad to have him back! The other dogs missed him too and Rebel thinks Gunner is his best buddy. They spend hours wrestling around the house…..highly entertaining for us!
We had some interesting sunsets in August because of some horrible fires in the area.
The girls did AWESOME at the fair with their chickens!
Mary got Grand Champion Market Chicken and Jo got Reserve Champion Market Chicken! They both got blue ribbons in showmanship and Mary’s chicken “Tiny” (the one eating the snake above) was the Grand Champion of her breed! They also did VERY well with their 4-H books. All that hard work paid off……literally. They both sold their chickens at the market livestock sale and got $250.00 and $375.00…..for CHICKENS that only cost them 10 dollars to raise!!!! We live in a great community with great people that support our kids! Of course their Papa and Grandma also helped in this area 😉
The last day of the fair the girls and I enjoyed watching the rodeo and Jo took a bunch of pictures.
And then there is the cutest nephew EVER!
The garden is still over flowing!
My sunflowers grew 13 feet tall!
This is the first time I’ve ever been successful growing cabbage!
After the fair we started off our home school year with a field trip to OMSI. (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.)
It was a great day and a wonderful way to start off the school year!! We are easing our way into a full school week. The rest of their books will be here next week so we will be in full swing after that!
Hope you all had a wonderful August too and are getting used to the cooler weather!
Two summers ago we raised several Cornish Cross Meat Chickens. Meat chickens were a brand new adventure for us and even though we lost a couple and taking them to the fair was a disaster, we had fun, and they tasted GREAT! I blogged about the whole experience and you can read each weeks post starting here.
This year my girls wanted to take meat chickens to the fair again but didn’t want to take Cornish Cross. I did some research and Ranger Broilers seemed to be the next obvious choice. They are bred to be a fast growing meat chicken just like the Cornish Cross, but they are good foragers; unlike the Cornish Cross that like to sit in front of the feeder and stuff themselves. I am excited about comparing these two breeds.
We ordered 15 chicks from Meyer Hatchery and they arrived June 11th. When we got them home we realized that they had sent us an extra chick. A few days later, I began to suspect that the extra chick was a Cornish Cross. A few days after that I was sure of it, now I can compare the two breeds while they grow!!
All 16 chicks were active, cute, and very entertaining. All of us agree these are the quietest chicks we’ve ever had.
At 2 weeks they are still pretty cute but that doesn’t last for long.
As you can see the Cornish Cross sticks out like a green bean in a fruit salad…..ok, that was bad, but I was trying to come up with something other than “he sticks out like a sore thumb” and well, that’s the only “appropriate” one I could think of.
We weighed them at 4 weeks.
The Ranger broilers weighed in at an average of 2 pounds 6 ounces, and the Cornish Cross weighed 2 pounds 10 ounces. At 4 weeks they have eaten about 60 lbs. of feed. As soon as I think they are big enough we will let them out for at least a couple hours every day so they can forage for grass and bugs. So far, other than growing just a bit slower than the Cornish Cross the only difference between the two breeds is that the Rangers seem to be more curious and friendly.
I’ll post an update in a few weeks and then a final post after we butcher them at the end of August. Thanks for following along!
Now that I have a little more time on my hands, I’ve been taking tons of pictures; so I decided to make weekly post of photos. Hope you enjoy!
This enormous toad was hiding under our honeysuckle bush.
This is his “holy moly it’s hot out here” look. I only know this because I had the same look on my face.
This is my favorite pic this week……heck, this might be my favorite pic of the year! The girls got to walk next to the church float in the 4th of July day parade! Can you spot 5 pieces of candy flying through the air?
The garden is growing like crazzzy, well at least the parts that the bugs haven’t eaten. I picked my first zucchini yesterday, it was YUMMY. 🙂
The meat chickens are growing quickly and are definitely in the ugly stage right now.
After watching some episodes of I Love Lucy, Jo decided to dress up like someone from the 50’s. Just makes me smile!
The temps have actually swooped down into the 80’s the last couple of days. After weeks of being in the 100’s it’s a welcome change. 😀
I have to admit that after the turmoil during fair week, I was very ready for butchering day. Out of the 15 birds that we bought, we had 13 make it to butchering day. The five my parents raised and eight out of ten that we raised.
The evening before we butchered it POURED down rain while we were packing up at the fair. By the time we got home they were soaking wet out in their little chicken tractor. So we brought them in the shop to dry off. They quickly dried and we kept them in for the night in case of another down pour.
We took the feed out 12 hours before butchering time; this is so the crop and intestinal tract has time to clear.
I weighed a few of them that morning and they were all around 7 pounds.
We put them in a couple of kennels and headed to my parents house. They have raised turkeys in the past and have a better set up for butchering than we do.
We don’t have any killing cones so the guys used a chopping block and an axe. I think next year we will buy or make some cones. Especially if we have more than 13 chickens.
For scalding we kept the temperature between 145°and 150° F. and scalded them for 1 minute. It worked great! I couldn’t believe how easy they were to pluck!
This is me, my mom, and one of my sisters plucking.
Digger skinned a few of them to see if it was faster than plucking. Skinning was definitely faster. Here are a couple pics of a skinned chicken, this was before it was gutted and cleaned. Check out all that meat!!!
This is the gutting, cleaning, and wrapping station. After they were cleaned we wrapped them in plastic wrap and put them in zip lock bags. They were all around 5 pounds. 🙂
The whole process only took about 2 hours for 13 chickens despite the fact everyone was exhausted from the fair. I was surprised at how smoothly it went and that it didn’t bother me at all. I was very pleased with the sizes of the dressed out birds. My parents were pleased too and have decided to stick with chickens instead of turkeys from now on. Mom already said she wants 20 more next year! I’m sure we will get more next year too. I’m thinking I’d like to try some freedom rangers, just so I can compare.
All said and done they cost right at $9.00 each. Not to bad for five pound, pastured chickens!
If you’ve been following along on our Cornish Cross raising adventure, brace yourself for an eventful week 7! If you are new to our little adventure you might want to check out the first six weeks: week 1 – week 2 – week 3 – week 4 – week 5 – week 6
My girls ages 9 and 10 chose to take two of our Cornish Cross to the fair this year and sell them at the market livestock sale. Our family has always shown and sold sheep, but with a lack of fencing and the fact that chickens are far less expensive to raise, we encouraged chickens this year…..a mistake?? Maybe….
Our 4-H leader, who knows WAY more about chickens than we do, advised that we pick a couple of our roosters to take to the fair because of their size. So on Wednesday afternoon the girls each picked out a rooster and we set to work getting them cleaned up. The girls also took two laying hens to the fair, which made a total of seven baths that afternoon…..four chicken baths then three people baths, getting chickens clean is a dirty job!
I was dreading this part, but other than a few soggy, soapy chicken wings slapping us in the face and one mom and two girls chasing a soaking wet hen around the yard……it went very well. 😀
It was a nice, warm, day so it didn’t take them long to dry off….and we were off to the fair!
Both Cornish Cross weighed in at 6.6 pounds (to sell they have to weigh between 4 and 7 pounds) and after a vet check we settled them into their cages. They were the only Cornish Cross in the barn…we live in a small county! I noticed right away that they didn’t really like walking on the wire cages, it was very different than our lawn. The poultry barn was hot, and this breed doesn’t do well in the heat. They plopped down in their cages, spread their wings out away from their bodies and started panting. (this is normal; this is how they act when they are hot) I was a little worried, but It was starting to cool off by then and I figured in a couple hours they would be fine….and they were. The next morning they looked great and we kept an eye on them throughout the day.
Thursday night I received a phone call that I was to immediately remove my daughters chickens from the fair grounds. The vet said they were sick and not going to make it through the night! As I approached the barn I saw the vet outside and asked him what the problem was. He said that our chickens had bloody wings, sores on their feet, their feathers were falling out, and they couldn’t stand up!?!?!?! My brief attempt at defending this breed and these birds in particular was oddly met with “I know, I know” and some reference to PETA. In short the vet made it very clear that he had made a decision, it was his call, and the birds had to go. Yes, I argued….no, I did not scream, yell, cuss, kick, bite, or hit, like I was tempted to do at that moment. (we’re talking about some major restraint here folks)
I removed the chickens with tears in my eyes and two little girls full of questions I couldn’t answer. 🙁
When we got home I took the kennel into the shop and opened the door. Both chickens walked out and I began checking them over. I had the Vetericyn out to spray any hurt wings or sores…..there was no need for Vetericyn. I was relieved to not find any sores, but at the same time was very frustrated!
After we took some pictures we put the chickens back in the pen with the rest of the meat chickens. The next morning, the chickens “that weren’t going to make it through the night” were just fine. When I opened the gate to give them breakfast they all ran to me. (Well, as well as Cornish Cross can run anyway) In fact, four days later as I write this they are still fine!
By the time we got back to the fair grounds the next morning our 4-H leader had heard about what had happened,… and she was none to happy!! We ended up filing a grievance with the fair board and attending a board meeting on Saturday morning. (This filled me with some measure of anxiety by the way, I am not one for confrontation) The board was very kind to listen to our complaint. I stated that I believed the whole situation was handled poorly and I didn’t want this to happen to more kids in the future. They said that everyone needs more education about this hybrid chicken, and market chickens should have cages on the floor so they don’t have to walk on wire mesh.
I agree with the board that more education is needed,(like how to tell an ugly, hot chicken apart from a sick or injured chicken) and maybe some misconceptions about this bird can get cleared up. (at least at our little county fair) I intend on writing several more posts about Cornish Cross and we will be making several educational posters to hang up at the fair next year….. whether we enter Cornish Cross or not. The fair was not a total bust, the girls had tons of fun showing their hens and hanging out with friends. They are already talking about next year. 😀
Next week I will share about our last week and our very first butchering day.
I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you to our wonderful 4-H leader Linda. She was so much help in our meat chicken raising experience and is always available to answer our questions. She helped with 4-H books, the fair entry process, and when things got crazy at the fair, she stood by us, helped with the grievance process, and even went to the board meeting with us. Linda….YOU ROCK!!!! 😀
I think the two words to describe week 5 would be ugly and messy…….I might throw in smelly too!
I’m moving their pen two and three times a day now to keep them on fresh clean grass. Sadly we had our first casualties this week…..yes, not just one but two. 🙁 I went out early Thursday morning and there was a dead chicken?? We don’t know why it died, but this breed is prone to heart attacks so I’m guessing that was it. Saturday morning I went out and a barn cat had some how reached under the pen and snagged one of them and had managed to eat half of it……super grooooss!! I also lost two hens this week….it was NOT a happy chicken week around here…..sigh.
The eight remaining Cornish cross are doing well and gaining weight FAST. We are now taking extra precautions to make sure they are cat proof!!!!
If you would like, you can read about the first four weeks of our meat chicken experience….they were much cuter on week 1 and 2! 😉 Week 1 – Week 2 – Week 3 – Week 4
Our 10 Cornish Cross meat chickens are now a month old…..one more month to go!
You can read why we chose this breed and see pictures of their growth on these posts: Week 1 – Week 2 – Week 3
They are outside full time now and love to munch on the grass!
They are still much more active than I expected. I have read that all they do is stand or lay down at the feeders and eat all day. Ours are not like that at all, maybe it’s because they have room to run and fresh grass to eat, or maybe they just haven’t got to that point yet?
They are ugly little buggers and not very bright! I weighed one a couple days ago and it was almost 2 pounds. They are going through the feed pretty quickly now, I think it’s going to cost more than I originally expected to feed them. But I also expected to loose a couple and so far no casualties. The five that my mom took to her house are also doing very well. Thanks for following along on our meat chicken journey. 🙂
On to week 3! Click here to read about Week 1 and Week 2 of our meat chicken raising experience.
They are still growing fast and their feathers are filling in a bit more. We have moved them outdoors and changed their feed from chick starter to a flock raiser. They are still fun to watch jump and run around, and every once in a while they make a “big chicken” noise. 🙂
Not so cute anymore.
For this picture on day 18 I tried to pick out the biggest one and the littlest one. The one standing in the back weighed 11.4 oz. and the bigger one sitting down weighed 18.4 oz. What a huge difference considering they hatched the same day and arrived at our house all looking identical. From everything I’ve read the small one is a female and the big one a male. That explains why the roosters are more expensive from the hatchery. The male kept plopping down and trying to sleep, the little female was more active and alert.
We built them a bigger pen so they can be moved around on the lawn and always have grass to eat. The girls painted it and I thought it turned out cute!
They love having more room!
Well, so far so good! We still have 10 healthy growing chickens. I’m glad they are outside now and not in the shop, (they were getting a little crowded and allot STINKY!).