Thursday, July 13, 2017

Happy mistakes...

I make a lot of mistakes.  Some turn out ok.  For instance, marrying a man who proposes the first time he meets you, after only 8 dates, is a Mistake with a capital "M."  But after 33 years I can say that things worked out just fine.

When I ordered 25 Cornish-x chicks to be delivered at the end of April, I also made a call to have them processed, because these things need to be planned in advance.

In the past we have planned the date 7 or 8 weeks out.  These birds grow insanely fast.  But I wanted birds that were a little bigger, and the website where I ordered the chicks recommended a 12 week growth period.  So, I followed their suggestion set the schedule up. It was a mistake.

I realized my error when the birds were about 8 weeks old. They were huge.  Destined by genetics to grow large, they had the added benefit of eating grass, weeds and bugs on pasture, PLUS a gallon or so of warm goat milk to drink every, single morning.

They were so big they couldn't easily get in and out of the hutches they slept in at night, so for several weeks we had to catch each of them in the evening to put them in the safe enclosures.  In the morning we would set out food and water, and tip the hutches on their sides so the birds could waddle out to the pasture. I wished I could change the plan, but those processing dates don't change easily. 

 I spent the next few weeks worrying about how big they were getting. Yesterday was the date.  We packed them snugly into hay-lined crates in the back of my truck.  When the strong guys at the butcher shop unloaded the crates, they groaned and remarked at the weight of the things.  

When we picked the processed birds up this morning the staff marveled at the size of the birds.  "You will cook one chicken and eat for days!"  they said.

Rachel pulled one of last years chickens out of the freezer and weighed it.
Four and a half pounds.  They were all about this size.

Then she placed one of this years crop on there.
Just shy of 9 pounds. And this was not the biggest one, either.  I'm pretty sure the biggest guys were around 12 pounds.

This years crop of meat birds caused me some time fretting.  But now I have two freezers packed full of enormous,  pastured, milk fed, home -raised chicken.  There will be good eating ahead.  I can hardly wait to see what mistake I make next!

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