Wednesday, August 6, 2014

PPPP Report Week 6

Apologies for the black shadow there.
Apparently my phone case wanted to photobomb.
Happy halfway Wednesday. Welcome to the Promised Pastured Peeper Progress Report, week 6. It's halfway for the broilers, but it's not "downhill from here" as the saying goes.

Through Week 5 we had been continuing to use the brooder lamp on damp or chilly (or frequently, both) nights but I finally stopped that Thursday.  Mrs. Farmer would happily leave such in place indefinitely but approaching 6 weeks old and well passed the time they were fully feathered these guys should have been living without it already even with our summer nights being unseasonably cool.  (continued)

Slightly better angle, slightly worse shadow,
Lilly photobomb.
No light does mean the birds will do more huddling, and more huddling means a little bit more wrestling and harassing each other, and any increase in harassing each other is bound to effect smaller birds more  than larger ones so it's no real surprise (though I had hoped she'd be ok) that the runty layer was dead by Sunday morning.  She was still barely half the size of her Barred Rock sisters and so much smaller than that compared to the broilers and the turkeys.  I don't know if it was removing the lamp, the harassment, or whatever factor had resulted in her stunted growth but something finally proved too much for her.

So we sail on with 50 red ranger broilers, 23
barred rock layers, and 8 broad breasted white turkeys. Our 5th 50 lbs bag of feed lasted 6 days (through Thursday last) and the 6th was finished yesterday (Tuesday) getting dinner out to the paddock.  At this point they are large enough for the pellets we would prefer to use but there is at least a bit more crumble in their future before another trip to the feed store gets on the schedule.  As comes with the birds getting older things are looking decidedly crowded now when they are spread out so very soon we'll need to expand into stage 2 housing.  For now, that's likely to take the form of 2 enclosed movable paddocks for the meat birds while the layers continue on in the brooder pen.  You can expect more details on that by next week's PPPPR I suspect.

Today saw one hop to fresh salad but tomorrow I may move them twice.  Partly because the crowding is that much harder on the grass but also because the next several "hops" across the pasture will be right under the treeline and I don't want them sitting under prime predatory ambush locations any longer than needed.  Perhaps I can give them full cover with netting or a tarp while under the trees instead.  File that under decisions to be made tomorrow.

After being used to checking in the middle of the night and seeing the steady red glow of the brooder lamp its absence is less than reassuring.  Nothing has really changed of course, and the lamp probably did more to advertise the location of the birds rather than protect them from predators but that uneasy feeling persists. Listening for them, in the dark, without the shadows cast by the red lamp,  I never know if I hope to hear nothing, because they are all peacefully sleeping, or some few of them peeping to at least let me know someone is awake and nothing is horribly amiss.

No number of midnight trips outside really protects them, and constant worry does nothing for my peace of mind so every night involves a little lying before bed.  I remind myself of all the steps I've taken to make them safe and then I lie to myself when I reassure my fears that nothing can go wrong while I sleep.  Some nights I believe myself more than others, some mornings the fears remind me they were justified as I remove a still form from the ground, trampled and ignored by the others as they clamor for breakfast.  Dead chickens are part of what one signs up for to eventually put some in the freezer, it's a major prerequisite to having nuggets later.  The inevitability of the death my young charges will eventually face doesn't remove the sting now though, wondering each and every time if there was something else I could have done, or something more I didn't think to do.  That's part of the price I pay.  While it doesn't cost me any money it certainly doesn't come for free.  This is the price for getting in touch with your food, or at least, your chicken.  Learning to love them out in the yard as they work with me on the land, loving them in the eggs in my breakfast, and loving them as the roaster dressed with rosemary and garlic on a bed of potatoes. That ends up being a lot of love, and only a few little lies.

Thanks for stopping by.

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