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The last few weeks have been a flurry of activity, with harvesting, planting succession crops, our first butcher day, and a visit from a predator. We've only had a sprinkling of rain the the last ten days and the new crops of spinach and radishes are growing very slowly. We can provide some irrigation, but don't want to run our well dry.
Last Sunday we butchered our first batch of broiler chickens. We had purchased several parts for our scalder because we struggled with the pilot going out in the middle of processing several times last season. The new parts solved our problem and the day went smoothly despite the high temperatures. We started very early, catching birds at 4:30 AM, and were finished and cleaning up by noon. We spent the evening making cut-ups and packaging.
On Monday night, we lost two of our beautiful turkeys to a predator. A livestock animal is raised on a farm to be eaten, but in exchange, the farmer provides a cushy life compared to life in the wild, with a guaranteed steady supply of food and fresh water, shelter from the elements, protection from predators, and a quick and merciful death. The feeling that we failed to uphold our end of the bargain and protect them properly is the worst of the shock and sadness. We made some emergency fortifications to their shelter which have been effective so far, but have not kept me from nightmares that send me outside in the middle of the night with a headlamp checking that they're safe and scanning the wood line for the green shine of predator eyes in the darkness.
Several members of the laying flock have been sitting on eggs for weeks, but none had successfully hatched a live chick until Wednesday morning when I checked under the mama hen and found this tiny peeping creature. I am hoping for a female, and we will be able to tell as soon as the feathers come in. The cross of a barred hen and our Partridge Cochin rooster produces females of a solid black color and males with the barred pattern of the hen.
Have a wonderful 4th of July!