Monday, August 2, 2010

Chickens' Final Frontier

Our 48 freedom Ranger chickens were scheduled to be processed this morning and we had the option of delivering them before 7:30 a.m. today or before 8 p.m. last night.

In the past we have always delivered them in the morning so we could sneak up while they were sleeping the night before, snatch them from their roosts and pop them into the crates -- saves lots of chasing. But now we have a cow to milk in the morning, so we decided to gather and haul them the evening before.

It was actually surprisingly easy to round up all the chickens this year because we had trained the them to eat and roost in the loafing shed and they were mostly inside, under the shade. Cadence closed up the open end of the loafing shed with a length of chicken wire and a pasture gate. The first fifteen or so were easy to catch, but gradually they realized what was going on and it was more challenging.  For the last dozen or so I used a big fish-landing net and got pretty proficient at landing them.

We have acquired a motley collection of dog crates and a large rabbit hutch from garage sales and the Salvation Army thrift Store for transporting poultry.  We could fit all the crates in the back of the pickup without having to hitch up the trailer if we left the gate down. We bungeed and tied the big rabbit cage securely half-way on the gate.  I wanted to hang a red flag on the back to alert other motorists but couldn't find a bandana.  Then Cadence pulled out a big red Christmas wreath bow from the garage and wired it onto the cage. The owner of the processing plant said it was the first time he had ever had chickens delivered with a gift bow.

Sending them to the processor was a little bit sad, but these chickens were getting very large and the roosters were becoming obnoxiously roosterly and pecking my ankles impatiently (and painfully) when I went out to feed them.  Definitely time to go.

Truth be told, I am eager to roast one of these Freedom Rangers and compare it to last year's chickens!


Mama Pea said...

What a great idea the big red bow was! Sure wish we had a processing plant close to us. It's a job I'd gladly pay to have done. Raising chickens for eggs or meat has got to be one of the best ideas for any homestead. We could probably live on eggs alone if we had to and just think of all the ways you can use chicken meat. Hope your roasted chickens are yummy.

katiegirl said...

The bow is hilarious! And I know what you mean about ankle pecking...that hurts!