Well, as of this week the brooder is in operation again. This week we started 100 layer hen
Auracana, barred rock, and assorted heritage cock chicks in the brooder tank.
replacements and 25 heritage breed cocks. Baker’s Green Acres is always looking for something new, and heritage chicken is one of our new frontiers this summer. We’re looking at two specific breeds for heritage birds, the suffolk and the silkie. Interest will determine how invested we get. We know we like these birds better overall, but they are different from the hybrid broilers and other growers have had trouble convincing the public how good they are. They have so much more flavor.
Next week the broiler chicks will start coming in. They will hopefully be able to get on pasture of sorts by 4 weeks of age–the beginning of April. There isn’t much grass yet, but they can still contribute to the pasture’s fertility and can harvest whatever they find. We use chicken tractors made of 2x4s and chicken wire very similar to Joel Salatin’s. We only cover 1/2 the tractor, though, leaving the whole front part openable–makes it easier to catch the birds when we need to. Another modification that Mark made was to set a plank on its edge to create a ridge over the covered part. A heavy plastic is then pulled over the top for a roof and down the sides. This seemed to provide adequate protection in bad weather and good ventilation in hot weather. We’ve had far more losses due to heat than frost or even snow. In the fall when the birds came out, the tarp was simply rolled up to prevent snow damage.
The other spring chore we’ve begun thinking about is fencing. We now have 7 goat kids, counting the little guy born yesterday. It won’t be long before all those guys start heading out to trim the brush in the swamp. This year I’m sure our neighbors will appreciate it if we keep them out of their yard, too. I have one group that will have to move by the beginning of April as the Mangalitsa piglets will go in their pen. The pigs get the job of turning all the rejected hay over, stirring it up to start the composting process. In the meantime, Mark’s been looking his chainsaws over to get them ready for “fence post season.” One advantage here is our cedar swamps. We’ve thinned them quite a bit, but there’s a lot more fence posts in there. In the spring the logs peel as easily as a winter coat on a warm spring day. By fall the bark sets for the winter and you can’t hardly peel the logs for all the wanting in the world. So spring and early summer are “fence post season.” We are surely looking forward to it, too!