>Although this blog feels like Rod’s baby, I felt compelled to write this morning.
I used to love Sunday mornings…taking the time to truly wake up, sipping coffee in bed, rereading the page in my book that I fell asleep to the night before. All while our daughters are sleeping-in…finally! That was until we got roosters. In our journey to sustainability, learning the basics of homesteading and discovering the true source of our food, we have realized that until we own our own acreage, culling chickens is inevitable.
It was just over a year ago that the farmers at Haliburton Farm asked us if we were interested in raising 28 chicks for them. We were excited, knowing it was something we wanted to do for ourselves someday. When we moved to Salt Spring Island, we took two of the hens with us. In fact, Rod built the “Mini Cooper” from recycled materials within a week of moving here.
One of the greatest joys was collecting fresh eggs from our loyal layers. Hannah, 12 at the time, came to enjoy frying them up within minutes of being laid. It would be difficult to imagine not only buying eggs, but cracking an egg with a dull yellow centre. The flavour of free-range chicken eggs is unbeatable.
The girls absolutely fell in love with chickens and we realized what great pets they are. Being part of the Poultry Club not only gave us access to people who knew how to raise chickens lovingly, but we could purchase breeds that most people don’t even know are chickens, like Nunavut, our White Silkie hen. Nunavut is so gentle and tame, that we’ve actually tucked her into our sweater and taken her for a hike to the beach!
Due to our mild winter, hens all over the island went broody sooner than they normally do. For the Valentine’s Day weekend, we borrowed a bantam rooster from a neighbour (we had to create romance somewhere!). He had some success with Ginger, our Rhode Island Red hen. It was a quick romance, for we had to return Joey to his own flock.
Before Ginger was killed by a hawk several days later, she provided us with four fertilized eggs. We placed them under Nunavut, a devoted foster mom, and watched the development of the egg with an egg candler. It was a fantastic experience for us all. Right on schedule (21 days later), we heard peeping and watched the cracking begin.
We squealed with excitement when a little black head appeared from under all that white fluff.
On the second day, Hannah decided to help one chick out of its shell. We had a discussion about nature and whether we should be helping a weak chick. She argued that we do everything we can to save a human baby so without a reasonable argument from me, while lying on her back with the egg on her chest, she proceeded to take away a little bit of shell near its feet. Within minutes, Ginger plopped out onto her black sweatshirt.
Then each subsequent day, for three days, three more chicks hatched, all reddish brown in colour.
Months later (just enough time to forget how much work chicks are), we were offered three Silver Sebright chicks when they were three weeks old. We now know there are two roosters and a hen. Because we have a Silver Sebright hen from another breeder, we’re going to keep one of the roosters for breeding purposes and sell the other two.
We went from two chickens to thirteen within a year and half and the mini cooper is now full. We have a friend who also has roosters and is ready to learn to kill them too. Spider and Ginger, the one who was born on Hannah’s chest, will become soup this week.
And next Sunday morning, I will lie in bed, read and not worry about the cursing neighbours.
Now go and enjoy your favourite Chicken Soup Recipe (I like http://www.AllRecipes.com). And in the meantime, The Real Reason the Chicken Crossed the Road (thanks to Harry Burton; click on it to enlarge image).