Sunday, April 11, 2010

meat and eggs

Since chickens are on our minds I thought I'd update you on the growth of the new birds. As you can see, the Cornish Rocks are monsters compared to the little Golden Comet laying hens. They're easily three times the size. If there was any doubt before that these were 100% meat birds, surely it has faded. But despite the vast difference in size and feed intake; both breeds are doing well. I've had no losses and the birds seem happy in their little brooder. It has made the bathroom louder than usual, but what can I do? The bathroom is the only room in the cabin with a locking door the dogs can't sneak into for nuggets while I'm at the office.

It's odd how my perception has changed since I've started raising meat birds. These small chicks are adorable, yes, but they are completely food in my mind. Taking care of the Cornish Rocks, inspecting them for pasted ends, refilling the food and water containers, and cleaning the brooder feels more like setting a table then farm chores. I do not mean it marginalizes them in any way by that. Just because these animals are destined for the table doesn't mean they are in anyway disregarded or neglected or thought less of. Actually, it's quite the opposite. When I am working with the meat birds (and the egg birds, too) there are intense levels of grace and gratitude towards the little fluff balls. I know the better life I offer them: the better meal (and therefore, quality of life) they'll offer me in return. So I treat the tiny guys with such care and a deeper understanding of the history of my future meals at the new farm. One day this summer I'll be having a BBQ on the deck with friends and as the campfire and guitar sounds rise over the trees I'll bite into a drumstick and think: this is the most wholesome thing I've ever eaten that's come out of my bathroom...

There's a little more to it than that, but you get the idea.


Blogger doglady said...

And Jenna, we all hope your BBQ is taking place in Jackson, NY as you look out over your sheep in their new pasture. I can see the menu. BBQ chicken and maybe rabbit you raised, tossed salad you grew and potato salad which of course you grew most of the ingredients. Does it get any better than that? Life on a farm isn't simple but simple things make your life so full.

April 11, 2010 at 7:18 AM  
Blogger Lilac Cottage Homestead said...

We have raised our own meat chickens for about 5 years now. I will never go back to not raising my own again. The meat taste ten times better the store bought. And I know everything that was put into that bird and then into my body. It a great feeling to know that. Good luck

April 11, 2010 at 7:18 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

The most wholesomest thing that came out of your bathroom. HA! Hilarious!

Keeping meat chickens intrigues me, but I know I need someone expert to physically guide me through the first killing. I don't feel comfortable just reading how to do it first.

What a great site you've got here!

April 11, 2010 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger Northwoods Baby said...

Dude, if you generally eat out of your bathroom, pretty much anything else has to be better for you.

I think I accidentally picked up a meat bird with my pullets, but I need another couple of days for the scary growth spurt to prove me right. I guess we might have fried chicken ahead of schedule. Yay! And on the plus side, Betty is rasing it for me, so I don't have to deal with the brooder AT ALL.

We had one Cornish x, Sherun (we call the boys Rerun, just so we can date ourselves and feel even older), who got away on butchering day, so we figured she had Stuff To Do With Her Life. She finally got picked off, but she was well over a year old by then. I always liked seeing her lumber across the yard when she saw us with the kitchen bucket.

I heart chickens.

April 11, 2010 at 10:08 AM  
Blogger Farmer's Daughter said...

Love it! My in-laws are raising meat chickens for the first time this year (after a few years of turkeys) and we gave my father in law a plucker for his 60th bday last night!

April 11, 2010 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger Amy McPherson Sirk said...

I have 5 laying hens but I would love to raise meat birds. I also wish I had someone to come show me how to process my birds.

April 11, 2010 at 11:13 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

That cornish almost looks like a cartoon! I think it's its cheeks that does it.

I think I'd like to raise meat birds some day, but since I'm not even doing layers until next year, meat birds are a ways off. I also need to see if I can actually dispatch a bird.

I sure hope I don't get attached to them....

April 11, 2010 at 11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ha haaa! My kids said, "that one is me and that one is you because i'm taller!"

April 11, 2010 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

OMG! The part about "the most wholesome thing I've ever eaten that's come out of my bathroom" made me hoot out loud! I love your sense of humor!

April 11, 2010 at 7:26 PM  
Blogger Northwoods Baby said...

If you want to learn butchering but don't have anyone to help, check out for good pics and descriptions.

April 11, 2010 at 9:45 PM  
Blogger Northwoods Baby said...

eta: the birds pictured, with the dirty bellies, were not well-cared for in that they didn't have dry enough bedding, which is why they're dirty and wet. But it's an easy thing to avoid.

Also: plucker. We built one last year and it's THE BOMB. I'm not even scared of doing a couple dozen a day with that bad boy on our side.

April 11, 2010 at 9:47 PM  
Blogger greendria said...

I understand what you mean about taking excellent care of them, and respecting them as fellow creatures, yet not becoming attached to them as pets. I can't believe how much I love my chicks (layers-to-be). But I started this flock with the intention that any hen who stopped laying would go to the soup pot and nourish my family, as would any roosters that I may have accidentally purchased, and I am still at peace with that (even in the face of their cuteness/amazingness).

April 12, 2010 at 9:56 AM  
Blogger Funny Ernie said...

We are raising cornish rocks for the first time this year, too. Ours are several weeks old now and boy are they scrappy looking compared to the layers! Meat animals truly are made for eating. It was the same way with our pigs. Pigs are definitely raised for meat. Their daily agenda is food, food, food...just like the meat birds. I think next year we may try raising heritage breed meat birds. It's very sad how quickly the cornish rocks grow.

April 12, 2010 at 11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll be reading of interest. All the folks I know personally with chickens have only laying hens. I would like to get some meat birds myself and will be following the progress of yours...

April 12, 2010 at 11:34 AM  

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