Wednesday, March 13, 2013
We were awakened Sunday morning by a phone call from a post office distribution center about seventy miles away. They said our chicks had arrived! No, that's not a typo; yes, it was Sunday. Although I wasn't terribly thrilled about having to drive seventy miles to pick up the chicks, I was happy that they had only been en route for a day, rather than the usual two days when they arrive at our local post office.
Sunday turned out to be a rather crazy day, but Mike eventually made it to the distribution center by early afternoon. Kat was home from college for the weekend, and she helped me clean up the stall where we would be putting the brooder. I washed out the feeder and waterer, and we got everything set up, including the heat lamp, so their space could start to warm up.
I had ordered fifty white Plymouth Rock cockerels, which we're raising for meat. We raised a few last year, along with some Dark Cornish, because I was simply curious if we could get some fairly decent sized roasters out of them. If you want to know why we don't grow the modern mutants, the short answer is that I think there is something terribly wrong with any baby animal that can literally eat itself to death within the first week of life. For the long answer, click here and here and here.
Of course, my ideal is to be hatching our own meat birds, which will simply be the cockerels hatched by our hens. (The modern mutant meat chickens also do not lend themselves to a self-reliant lifestyle because they have to be artificially inseminated for reproduction.) For the past three years, we had New Hampshire hens, and although they are amazing layers, they did not get broody, and I want at least a few hens to get broody so that they can replace themselves and put a few chicken dinners on the table.
Last fall, I bought some Buff Orpington pullets. When we had that breed eight to eleven years ago, some of them did get broody, so I'm hoping that happens with these chickens. They just started laying within the last couple weeks, but I'm not expecting them to get broody until next year. If a couple of them do happen to set this year, it will simply be a happy bonus!