Friday, April 6, 2012

everyday, regular, totally normal excitement

I just got back from delivering a truckload of chickens to Ben Shaw's farm. I must admit, it was a wonderful drive. Gibson and I in the front seat watching the sun welcome our county to the day. Near my thigh was a happy little cup holder hugging a hot cup of coffee. It wafted waves of delicious mist in the chilly morning air. Behind us, in various ramshackle cages, covered with an old blanket for wind protection, were nearly twenty fat chickens. I easily caught them by dumping a pound of feed at the parked truck's tailgate and one at a time lifted them like tubby tabbies into the back of the truck. There was no rush, no stress. I just picked them up from the buffet one at a time. All of a sudden a bird would be eating next to his buddy and then I would gently scoop him up. He'd be gone, like an alien spaceship teleported him to his next incarnation with nary a fuss. His buddy, still eating, would look to his left for a second and cock his head "Hey? Anyone see Mitch?" and then go back to eating the feed with gusto. (Chickens do not mourn their MIA friends when there is food to be eaten.) The sheep watch all this and bitch the entire time. They assume anything in a Blue Seal bag is for them, and since I dared to empty its contents into another animal's maw, I was a heathen monster to be heckled at. And boy, did they heckle.

"Gibson, Sheep." I say, and the dog who was circling the flock of BBQ wings shot up to the sheep gate and everyone scattered or shut up right quick. Well, everyone save Joseph, who thinks Gibson is as harmless as a tuft of quackgrass. I think the only way Gib and I will ever move Joseph is if Gibson crouches behind him and I push him over. Oh well. Some times the sheep wins.

Today is a busy day. I have to clean and cook for the workshop tomorrow, but I also have a farrier appointment with Merlin (his feet are overdue) down at his stables, an oil change for the truck in town, and I have to pick up those same birds and write Ben a check late afternoon. I think about how busy I am these days, and how my "days off" are a hundred times more full and thriving than my days in. That's a good feeling and I'm sure many of you can relate to it, too. Certainly is you're as crazy as I am, running a farm and a day job at the same time.

I'm looking forward to sharing my riches with friends today. Steve and Molly's (who are on vacation) will go in the chest freezer. Some will go in my fridge for tomorrow's workshop lunch (chicken burritos anyone?) and the rest will be delivered by the Poultry Fairy (read: me) today to Livingston Brook Farm, Shelly my Vet, and others. I asked Jon and Maria if they wanted one but since they are coming over to pick up living chickens tomorrow, they may not be interested in bringing home one of their dead roommates. Or maybe they'll surprise me?

Excited up here in at Cold Antler Farm. Much ahead, and much exciting news to come. I just need to arrange an equine pedicure and do a lot of Window washing first!

photo by 468photography.com

14 Comments:

Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

Chicken burritos sounds good! I can bring corn tortillas if you want, since I can't have the wheat ones. I can't wait!!

April 6, 2012 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

bring 'em!

April 6, 2012 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

got your email as well!

April 6, 2012 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

If you want and can do traveling workshops someday, a lot more people could come including me! Just a thought.

April 6, 2012 at 10:05 AM  
Blogger laurie said...

My first batch of Rangers (hatched July 2010) git kept longer than expected. Lovely DH is a truck driver and kept planning to butcher but his schedule kept interfering. When I finally took them elsewhere they averaged 10 lbs dressed. The legs were rather tough when roasted. All of that to say Thank You for mentioning chicken tacos the other day. For some reason I hadn't thought of that. I pulled out on of those Rangers. The breastmeat went to a spicy stir fry. The rest in a pot of water which yielded up 8 qts of the most amazing stock and the normally tough legs and thighs made the delicious shredded chicken tacos (with last summer's peach salsa).

April 6, 2012 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger laurie said...

My first batch of Rangers (hatched July 2010) git kept longer than expected. Lovely DH is a truck driver and kept planning to butcher but his schedule kept interfering. When I finally took them elsewhere they averaged 10 lbs dressed. The legs were rather tough when roasted. All of that to say Thank You for mentioning chicken tacos the other day. For some reason I hadn't thought of that. I pulled out on of those Rangers. The breastmeat went to a spicy stir fry. The rest in a pot of water which yielded up 8 qts of the most amazing stock and the normally tough legs and thighs made the delicious shredded chicken tacos (with last summer's peach salsa).

April 6, 2012 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger seagoddess said...

I used to get grossed out reading about these types of endeavors, but as I gain more knowledge and understanding for feeding oneself, sustaining your land and your own producer responsibility, it makes so much sense to me now. And I sure bet those chicken burritos will be the best!

April 6, 2012 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger Flartus said...

Can't wait to find out how much them ol' birds weigh! Lucky birds, a kind hand into the execution wagon after a lifetime of chickeny bliss. Loved your sicc'ing Gibson on the peanut gallery, lol.

April 6, 2012 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger DebH said...

now this post I enjoyed the most. It seemed lots calmer and just the thing that I see myself doing every ordinary day,(when I'm not working at the office). I have this 10yr plan you see...and I know I'll be enjoying that everyday, regular totally normal excitement every.single.day then!

April 6, 2012 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Atta girl denh !!

April 6, 2012 at 11:59 AM  
Blogger Casie Duberstein said...

Just wondering about feeding them before butchering. We were told to with hold food for 12 hours prior to butchering them so their crops were empty. Is this not something that needs to be done? I'm thinking it just makes for a cleaner evisceration.

April 6, 2012 at 12:33 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

DebH, sorry!

April 6, 2012 at 3:21 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

yes, withholding food is best, but since I needed to A) catch them easily and stress-free(ily?!) and b) Birds not being slaughtered today gotta eat, they went in with a little bit of feed in their crops.

April 6, 2012 at 3:22 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Hi Jenna -
Completely offbeat question - I've got a friend in the SCA looking for a book that mentions scottish blackfaces, specifically (or other variety of black faced sheep not jacob) as a breed, pre-1650.

Wasn't sure if maybe you've stumbled across anything in your studying of the breed.

April 6, 2012 at 4:14 PM  

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