Graduating the Chickies

The pastured meat chickens have been a lot to keep up with so far.  They grew faster than we thought they would (doesn’t this always happen?) and it was a wee bit of a struggle to keep up with them.

They are so incy-wincy-teeny-tiny when they arrive, you can’t imagine they will be so large so soon!  We thought for sure we’d have a little tractor coop all set for them by the time they were ready for it, but after just a week in the brooder, it was like a crowded apartment in Tokyo.  Ethan started working on the new coop right away, but we couldn’t keep up with them.  Just a few days after that, it was like Black Friday in front of Walmart.  Something had to be done, so I stepped in and as they turned two weeks old, the little peepers were transferred to a half-coop that I fortified with plastic at night and a heat lamp on an extension cord (there was still such thing as cold weather back then, and they were too small to have real feathers).

I thought that would last them until we could repair one of the large coops.  My exact words were, “That should last them a couple weeks at least.”  There was so much room in there, and they were still little blobs of fluff.

I was wrong, of course.  At the end of the week we were scrambling and had to move them into one of the large moveable shelters.  A week and a half after that, Ethan visited the Great Chicken Coop Graveyard on the back grazing line (it’s where our moveable chicken coops go to fall apart and die, for some reason.  It always happens up there – as far away as possible) and built a new coop so we could divide them up between three of the Salatin-style moving coops to give them more space.

That is (should be) the last move for them.  Every day they move to fresh grass, and any bugs I pick in the garden also go to them.  They are still growing amazingly well.  I was awakened last Sunday morning out of a stormy dream.  I opened my eyes and rolled over, because it was a peculiar noise that had awakened me.  It was early, just barely light, and it had almost sounded like a human voice, calling.  There it was again – and it sounded like one of the goats had gotten stuck in the hay manger and was slowly breaking a leg.

I ran outside in the pink dawn, stumbling, still half-asleep.  I ran barefooted and barely dressed through the dewy grass towards the goats, trying to count them and make sure none of them were strangling in the fence or having a seizure or something.  I couldn’t imagine what was causing them to make that horrible, tragic suffering noise.  I stopped when I heard the noise again…coming from the opposite direction in one of the chicken coops.

It was one of the little roosters practising his new ability to crow!

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