Thursday, January 07, 2010

More snow chicken stuff

Here's the chicken house after I gave them their water and opened their little door. The little door is on the other side of their coop and it opens into the fenced run. The door slides up and down to open and close. I open it with a cable that goes up through the roof and across a pulley, then hooks onto a screw to keep the door pulled up and open. I had to brush some snow aside to find the cable and the screw to hook the cable around.

The dark spot on the right is where I backed up the truck too far and the hitch went through the wall of the chicken coop. It wasn't one of my prouder moments.


Snow is surprisingly heavy. I sweep the snow off of the coop roof and then prop it open with a scrap of 2x4. We have cylinders in the coop to help lift the roof but after rain or snow it's just about as heavy as I can manage, even with the cylinders. With the roof propped open, I can get eggs, fill their feeder, throw down some scratch, and check that everything is generally okay. I put the scratch down on their litter (wood shavings) and they stir it up. This keeps the chicken house cleaner and less stinky than if I just allow the poop to pile up and cover it with a new layer of fresh shavings every so often. I am sold on the "let them scratch through the litter" method of keeping chickens.


Here they are happily in the house, eating up the scratch. We currently have one rooster and eight hens. Our rooster is a beautiful fellow, keeps a good eye on his girls, and is not at all mean to us. We like him very much. The purple blue stuff is Blu-Kote and when the chickens get wounded or naked from the rooster pulling their feathers, I spray them with the Blu-Kote to help them heal. I like to spray them in the evening when they're on the roost, because they are still and calm then. So I sometimes hit the interior wall of the coop with overspray.

video

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Snow chores - chickens


We've had a lot of snow recently (yay!) and the temperature has been below freezing for several days. A week? Two? I haven't really paid attention. But I do know that the chickens' and rabbits' water dishes are frozen every morning and evening when I go out to check on them and give them food and water. I took some photos this morning whilst going about my chores. It was that early blue twilight time of day.


I water the rabbits and the chickens with rubber pans that hold about 3 gallons of water. The rubber stays flexible even in extremely cold temperatures. I've not had any problems with them at temperatures of about -10F. I flip them upside down and stomp on them, hard, with my boots.


Most of the ice pops right out. Any that clings to the dish can be popped out by flexing the dish or by poking at it with a gloved hand.


I carry warm water out in old vinegar jugs. I used milk jugs at first but the vinegar jugs are more sturdy and last longer.


Yay! Fresh water! The chickens are hesitant to come out into the snow. They will, but they must first get their courage up :)

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Snow Critters

Rabbits hanging around in and on their favorite hidey-hole. They don't mind the cold at all. They'll lie out there on the ground in sub-freezing weather like it's the most comfortable thing in the world.

The chickens, on the other hand, are distrustful of the snow, mostly because it's different. They stand and stare at it for a long time before setting foot in it. Once out, they'll walk kind of funny, trying to keep their feet out of the snow. But Speckled Sussex are insatiably curious and love to scratch and be outside, so eventually they just get out in it and do their chickeny things.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Lockdown

Well our chickens are going to be confined to their palacial coop for the next good while. I let 32 chickens out the other day to wander about, munch on grass and bugs, and enjoy the sun and breeze. That night only 22 came home to roost. The next day two more showed up but I'm still down to 24 chickens from 32. We have no idea what could have taken so many chickens in one day.

Then this morning I chased a raccoon out of the chicken coop! Chickens sleep quite soundly. They just kind of melt over the roost and they're GONE. A raccoon can take their buddy from right beside them and they won't wake up. Needless to say, I'll be setting traps. That poor old coop is anything BUT predator-proof, but it's as good as it can be. It's old and cobbled and falling apart.

We're making a large chicken "tractor". This is a portable coop/yard combo that we can move weekly or daily as needed. It should give the chickens protection from predators and a chance to enjoy sunshine, breeze, greens, bugs, and dirt. We figure each one should house about 8 hens and a roo. It's not to be manually dragged around; we'll use an ATV or maybe the tractor.

We're using a trailer for our building table. Corrugated red roofing is in the foreground, and fencing that we'll use for the walls and "ceiling" of the run. The vertical pieces will support walls and a sloping roof. The roof will be hinged for egg collection, and access to food and water dishes. They don't eat much food when they are allowed to free range, but I always have it available to them anyway.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Baby Chicks!

Well it is certainly Spring here at Palazzo Rospo. Last Thursday we had kittens and today we have chicks. I find it SO exciting.

For the first time in the two years we've been keeping chickens, we had a hen go broody. For a couple of nights in a row, when I locked up the chickens at night, she was in the nest box (plastic cat litter-box, the kind with a lid) rather than on the roost. In the morning, though, she'd get up and run grab some food along with the rest of her flock. Then on about the third day she didn't run grab food. She sat in that nest box and for three weeks I NEVER saw her leave it.

This morning when I went to give the chickens their food and fresh water, there was a dead chick on the floor of the chicken coop. I expect it had hatched and gotten out of the nest box but been unable to get back in, so it got chilled and died.

I put the nest box, with hen and eggs in it, in the brooder box I made for brooding incubated chicks. I put a nice thick fluffy layer of wood chips down and built a little ramp of wood chips going up to the nest box entrance so if any chicks do get out, hopefully they'll be able to get back in.


I also put the chick waterer and feeder in the brooder box, and turned on the heat lamp in the corner opposite the nest box. This way the chicks have something to eat and drink (though they'll be okay for about three days with no food or water), and if they can't get in the nest box or don't want to, they can hang out under the heat lamp. That's the way I raise my incubated chicks and they do great.


I don't know how many chicks have hatched. I counted seven (plus the dead one) but they're all hanging out in the nest box. I don't even know how many eggs she was sitting on. She's doing a great job. I can't wait to see them all running around being busy little chick babies. The hen growled at me when I took these pictures. I'd never heard a hen growl before.

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Egg Incubator

I had the flu or something that knocked me totally on my butt for about two weeks. I've been playing catch-up (frighteningly behind on seed starting, garden prep, and transplanting!). I'm still not 100% but I'm good enough.

Last month, in April, I received some hatching eggs I'd ordered. I ordered 20 and they sent 24, probably in case of cracked eggs or duds. In fact, one egg was cracked slightly despite the eggs being VERY well packed in sawdust, egg cartons, and then newspaper.


I have a little incubator made out of styrofoam like one of those inexpensive coolers. When we got it, I got the egg turner, too, because I KNOW I'll forget whether or not I turned the eggs, or have a couple of evenings in a row when I'm not home due to bee club meetings or something like that.


The egg turner is six rails with soft plastic "cups" that look like upside-down tables. They rock ever so slowly from one side to the other, about four times a day. This mimics the hen turning the eggs in the nest so that the chick develops well inside the egg.


The incubator came with a hygrometer, which measures the humidity. I didn't realize until I took this photo how filthy my little hygrometer is. It came with the incubator. If the humidity is in the shaded area, everything is good. When the humidity drops, I pour a little bit of water in the bottom of the incubator (it has a plastic liner with a little trough where I can put the water - impossible to photograph though, as it's all white).


The incubator also came with a thermometer. Eggs like to stay at about 99.5F and this thermometer has a nice extra-wide marking at 99.5. The thermometer rests on a bent piece of metal so that it's elevated about egg-height off the floor of the incubator.


Here are the eggs after being placed in the incubator, in the egg turner, big end up. The big end goes up because that's where the air pocket is. The chick's head will develop in the big end. The eggs have a "B" on them that's not really visible in the small picture but they show up if you click to view the large picture. Anyway, the "B" is where the seller marked them. They are Buckeye chicken eggs and he raises several types of chickens.


This is the incubator when it's closed. It has a couple of little windows to look into. It has two red plastic air vent plugs. In the photo, one is still in place and one has been removed. You can see the ventilation hole near where the power cord comes out of the top of the incubator. When the eggs start hatching, you increase the humidity and remove the second plug.

Unfortunately, not ONE of my eggs hatched! I candled them (get in a dark room and hold a flashlight to the back of the egg) and most of them never even started developing. A few developed but none of them hatched. I used this incubator successfully last spring, so I figure it's bad eggs.


I've been told that if the Post Office X-rays eggs, most of them won't develop at all, as if they hadn't been fertilized. Those that do develop will probably develop poorly. So it's possible my eggs were X-rayed.

It's also possible the seller has a rooster with fertility problems, and/or he sent me eggs that were very old or had gotten chilled. Because he was so careful with the packaging, though, I tend to think X-rays might be the problem.

So, I've given up on Buckeye chickens (again) and I'm saving some of my own Speckled Sussex eggs to hatch out. I'm down to five hens, thanks to foxes and hawks. I have three roosters so I need to butcher a couple but, well, it's so easy to just put that off.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Water and Cold Weather


When it gets real cold here, the water gets a skim of ice on top. If it's snowing, sometimes the water turns slushy. If it's real cold, the water freezes pretty thick on top (an inch or so). Thick enough to support a rabbit, anyway.

The rabbits leave the water dish all nasty with muddy footprints and little poop berries frozen into their water.



We got these little three gallon rubber dishes from our feed store. They were $8.99 each. We use one for the rabbits and one for the chickens. They stay very flexible even in extremely cold weather. I just turn them upside down and step on the bottom a bit. The water and most of the ice come out. Then I pick it up and, holding it upside down, I flex the sides and the rest of the ice just pops out. It couldn't be any easier!

I take them fresh water to the animals in the morning and evening, summer and winter. In the winter if it's REAL cold, I take water at midday too.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Foxes and Chickens

Day before yesterday my husband was outside and he came rushing in saying "It sounds like something's getting slaughtered out there!" He got the Ruger .22 and went out the back door, where we saw a fox out by the chicken house. It was a beautiful fox, ginger colored, and it was FAST. My husband shot a few rounds towards it but didn't hit it. It's fox season right now so a direct hit would have been nice, but he at least scared it off. We need to zero that scope in for 100 yards; it's zeroed wrong for what we use it for the most (scaring varmints from the chicken house area).


We saw a couple of big piles of feathers but the chickens were under cover and not coming out. I counted all of them when I locked up at night, but they were huddled together so I couldn't tell if anyone was hurt or not. Yesterday morning, I didn't let them out of their house but instead let them into the attached run. Everyone ran out except this poor tailless hen.


She has a big naked spot on her butt, so I went inside and got some Blue Kote and sprayed her wound with that. Blue Kote is great on chickens because it's an antiseptic spray that fights germs and fungi; it also turns the naked skin dark blue so the other chickens aren't nearly as likely to peck at the wound. I got mine at my local feed store; I've never used the site I linked to but they had the best online price when I was writing this post.

The chickens will be on lockdown for the next several days. I am glad they are locked up because I heard and saw a huge hawk this morning as I let the chickens out into their run and gave them food and fresh water. We've lost two chickens to hawks this month. Grrrr.

We keep our dogs inside a "radio fence" and we're thinking of getting another transmitter to expand their territory so that it includes the chicken house.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Chickens in Snow


With the exception of this fine rooster and one hen, all of our chickens were born on the Fourth of July. They are five months old now, and this is their first experience with snow.

Okay, the rooster is kind of fluffed up and the wind is blowing his feathers the wrong way, but he is a fine rooster, I assure you.


They are reluctant to come out of the chicken house; I would be, too, if I were barefoot. When they do come out they like to hang out under this brush pile. You might be able to spot a couple of red combs in the photo, but there are at least a dozen chickens in there.


See? Here are the two roosters, with a couple of hen butts behind and up the hill from them.

My chickens live in an unheated, uninsulated chicken house. We have plans to build them an unheated, insulated house. They did fine last year in nighttime temps down to -8F. It's sad to think they made it through temperatures like that only to have their ranks decimated in the Great Raccoon Wars of '07. This batch is a lot more skittish, though, so I think their chance of survival is moh bettah than that of their predecessors.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Chicks at Our House


A few weeks ago we were fighting raccoons. When it became apparent that our flock's very existence was threatened (I'm talking flock extinction, not one or two losses to predators), we sat down and discussed things. We figured that in addition to patching up the old chicken house, we needed to build a new chicken house. So a new chicken house has gone up on the priority list. We juggle the priority list quite a bit.

We also either needed to order more chicks or invest in an incubator.

We started saving eggs and got a fairly inexpensive incubator. When it arrived, we had 18 eggs saved. Due to the reduction in our flock, that's all we could save in seven days. I've been told that eggs older than seven days can be incubated and hatched, but the viability drops quite a bit.

We have thirteen little raptors hanging out under a heat lamp in the chicken house now. Fourteen pipped but one only cracked the shell and then apparently suffocated before it could get out. That was sad. The others are all doing well.

Here they are on the fourth of July. They all hatched on the third and fourth.

Here's a view showing (sort of) their magnificent brooder box. They weren't "due" to hatch until the 5th, so when they began pipping on the 3rd it was quite a surprise. I hustled big time to get the brooder box done in time to move the chicks into it. It's about 3' x 4' and 15" high. It has 1/4 inch plywood sides, a 2x2 frame, and hardware cloth for the floor and hinged lid.

With our first batch of chicks we used a cardboard box in the bathroom, but this time I wanted to brood them out in the chicken house. I needed to make a sturdy brooder box for a couple of reasons.
1 - I'm concerned the larger chickens (all two of them) might peck the babies.
2 - We have packrats in the chicken house and I was concerned they might bother the babies.

So, the magnificent brooder box was built.

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Raccoons and Chickens



Warning - there is a graphic photo later on that shows a dead chicken. You might want to browse away now if that sort of thing bothers you.

A few days ago I let the chickens out in the morning. I checked their food and water like I always do, and counted them like I usually do. One was missing. I'd counted them the night before when I tucked them in, and all had been present and accounted for.

Well, that happens sometimes. A bird will be in the fenced in run, or hanging out in a nest box, or standing and contemplating her toes.

So, I did a search and couldn't find her. I *did* find a big pile of feathers. Their water dish had been overturned, too. Not a good sign at all. The next morning one of the roosters was dead in the coop, with his head mostly torn off. That usually means raccoons.

Our chicken house is a slapped together affair. It has lots of holes and access points. We patched it up as best we could, and set a couple of live traps.

That very night, we caught a huge raccoon. The next night, we caught the smaller raccon shown in the photos. And although no raccoons got into the chicken house, we lost yet another hen, as you can see below. She was killed by a raccoon reaching through the fencing.



Apparently the chicken was *very* curious about the raccoon in the cage. So much so that she wandered close to the fence and was nabbed by another raccoon.

Last night as I was walking to the chicken house to tuck them in (and set the traps - we set them after the chickens are locked up so we don't inadvertently trap a chicken - been there, done that), a hen came screaming out of the chicken house with a raccoon hot on her heels. I screamed at the raccoon (and cussed) and he ran up a tree. We caught the hen and placed her back into the house.

This morning both traps were sprung but there was no raccoon inside either one of them. Raccoons are clever enough to reach in through the walls of the trap and get the bait. We're going to put hardware cloth on the back portion (the bait end) of the trap so they can still see and smell the peanut butter but not poke their little paws in through the sides to get to it.

While I absolutely positively hate losing hens (and a roo) to a raccoon, you do have to wonder how utterly stupid a hen has to be to walk right over to the fence where a raccoon is positioned. Imagine the following scenario. Give the raccoon a New York stage whisper and the hen a voice like Aunt Bea.

Raccoon: Psst! Hey. Hey, you.
Hen: ooooohhhh? (hens mumble a lot)
R: Yeah, you. C'mere.
H: -mutters uncertainly-
R: C'mere. I got something to show ya.
H: oooohhhhhh!
R: Ya gotta come real close, see? 'Cause my arms are real short, see?
H: SQUAWK!!!

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Chicken House Tour


We inherited our chicken house when we bought this place. It is not beautimous, but it is fairly functional. It needs to be rebuilt as the posts that are the foundation of the entire structure (corners, mostly) are rotting. It is right on the wet weather creek and the creek is threatening to erode the dirt right out from under the wall. And, as it has a dirt floor it's easy for critters to dig into. Still and all, it's working for us, for now. Let's take a tour. In the photo above you can see the (re-fenced) run, the window and door - the door enters into what I call the "little room" but they may be the same size) and the orange stuff is on what I call the "big room".


The "little room" is mostly enclosed, with ventilation at the rooftop and some drafts. The "big room" is much more open, with construction netting stuff forming some of the walls and a tarp acting as a wind and rain block. The entire affair is rather cobbled together, with the walls being made of plank wood, tin roofing, tarp, cardboard boxes, feed bags...


This is in the "little room". The chicken-sized door goes out into the fenced in run. Our chickens mostly free range but it's nice to have a yard for them during times like now, while we've got a trap set trying to catch a fox that's been preying on our chickens. I lined most of the little room with 1/4" plywood because our winters are cold (-8F this past winter) and the room was very drafty - like, you could look through the walls.


In the "little room" looking out the door. There is a doorway between the "little room" and the "big room" and it has a heavy piece of rubber hanging in the doorway, with a 2x4 piece of wood stapled to the bottom. It's very heavy, probably heavy pond liner. I roll it down in the summer so there's lots of ventilation. In the winter I roll it down to reduce airflow and drafts. The chickens push past it if they want to go into the big room in cold weather. Fools.


The "big room" with the wall partly of wood, corrugated metal, and cardboard, and partly of construction "webbing" and tarp. There are roosts in both rooms but the chickens only roost for the night in the "little room".

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Speckled Sussex Chickens


These are old photos, taken back in January when the world was mostly dead looking. It was a clear, crisp day - perfect for photographs. Our chickens free range. They eat a surprising amount of grass and greens. Tons and tons of it. They eat bugs and seeds and worms and grubs, too. In the photo above they're devouring some kind of leftovers from the kitchen. When they see me coming out with a bowl, pan, or pot in my hand they come running.

Speckled Sussex are a very pretty breed. Their dark feathers are a rich mahogany brown with lots of red undertones, and their black feathers have a green sheen to them, especially in direct sunlight.

This hen is scratching and poking around for something beside the wet weather creek. Speckled Sussex love to forage. They clamor to be let out in the morning and spend almost all day wandering around, scratching and eating.

Recently we lost four hens in about 5 or 6 days. The chickens are locked up in their house and run, and not allowed to free range for the time being. We've seen a fox down at the chicken house. We set a trap for it and so far we've only caught an opossum. Opossums will steal eggs if they can get to them, but they're not much of a predator otherwise. We let this one go.

I hope we catch the fox soon. The chickens are tired of being cooped up (so *that's* where that term came from!) and 2 roosters is too many for only 9 hens, especially in close quarters.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tiny Egg

Come on, Sesame Street fans, sing with me!

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things doesn't belong
Can you guess which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

One of the hens laid a teeny tiny egg the other day. I cracked it open and there was the tiniest bit of egg yolk inside. Not a completely formed yolk, but a bit. It was surrounded by egg white and everything. I cracked it into a small bowl that we usually use for an individual serving of fruit, applesauce, or peas at dinner time.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Aigs!

Last Saturday, I found these three beautiful eggs in the chicken house! Our hens are almost seven months old and most hens start laying around five or six months of age. I figured the short days were getting to them and to be honest I wasn't really expecting any eggs until the longer days of late spring.

I put a covered cat litter box in the corner of the chicken house where I found these eggs, and put wood shavings in the bottom of it. The next egg got laid right in front of the cat box, but all the eggs since have been laid in the box. They're nice and clean when laid in the wood shavings instead of in the dirt and litter.

There is only one hen laying in the cat box, because I only get one egg a day. She takes a day off about every five days. We have collected eleven eggs so far and we will have breakfast for dinner tonight: ham, eggs, and biscuits.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Fox visited our Chickens


Day before yesterday the chickens made a racket. They've frequently made rackets in the past and we rushed out to see what was wrong, only to find that they were quibbling over a bug or a rooster was after a hen. So when we heard the racket We were unimpressed. My husband meandered out; I stayed in my comfy chair.

He quickly returned, exclaiming, "There's a cat after the chickens!"

I jumped up and ran to the door and saw a ginger colored cat with a fluffy persian tail slinking amongst the chickens. Well that just ticked me right off. I took off running toward the chickens in my bedroom slippers. I was gonna kick some cat butt.

The cat was fast and fluid. The cat was a fox!

I herded the upset chickens into the coop while my husband went looking for the fox. He never found the fox though he conducted a long and thorough search. The photograph is a trifling sample of all the feathers that were on the ground.

We thought we'd lost a chicken or two, for sure, yet they are all present and accounted for. I've looked and looked at the chickens but can't find any with raggedy tails or bald botoms.

We were really lucky. Fortunately for us this was a very young fox -- not too strong and fairly inexperienced. We're glancing outside at least hourly now, sometimes more often.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Mystery Chicken




When we ordered chicks, we got 25 "straight run" Speckled Sussex chicks. Straight run means a random mixture of males and females. We also got a free "mystery chick".





He'll be going to freezer camp soon but I thought I'd take his picture first. He's a very pretty fellow, if a bit on the small size. I don't know what kind of chicken he is. Probably a male of an egg-laying breed. It wouldn't make sense for the hatchery to give away anything else.



For some reason Blogger is giving me absolute fits with uploading pics. The larger version of some of my recent pics is cut off at the bottom, but I went with it because most of the time I can't even get the pics to upload at all. I'm sure they'll have it ironed out soon. For what I pay (free) I can't complain.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Butchering Chickens



This past weekend we butchered a couple of the roosters. We didn't butcher the handsome fellow pictured above. He's one we're definitely going to keep. When there is danger, he sounds the alarm. He stands guard outside the chicken house calling everyone in to safety. When the dogs bark, he rushes up to square off with them. He's very brave and protective. He's also got a sweet disposition and comes over to visit whenever I'm outside. We're keeping a spare, too, in case this one's bravado proves fatal.

Anyway, about the butchering. We figured we'd just do a couple, to figure out what was what. Then probably next weekend we'll do eight more and keep two roos and all the hens until we know which hens lay well, which go broody, etc. May butcher some hens later, but not yet.

ANYway... here are my observations. The text is graphic but there are no gory pictures.

Chickens are easy to catch if you let them all out in the morning and throw out some feed (my normal routine) then grab them by their feet while their butts are up in the air and they're distracted by the food. They are very calm when carried by their feet. They remain calm when you lay them across the chopping block. Very co-operative.

It's surprisingly difficult to behead a chicken.

They bleed less than I thought they would.

Butchering isn't as "wet" as I thought it would be. It's more sticky than wet.

We plucked the first bird and realized we'd scalded it a little too long. To make the feathers come out easily, a bird is dipped in water between 130F and 180F and swished around a bit. His feathers didn't come out very easily after several seconds of swishing, so we dunked him again and then his feathers came out really easily but his flesh was barely cooked at the outside edge. In the end we skinned him, and the second bird we skinned without even plucking. In the future, we'll mostly skin without plucking, as it saves heating up the water and all that. We don't really eat roast chicken anyway. Always grilled, stir-fry, soup, or burritos - dishes that utilize skinless pieces or meat off the bone.

I don't see HOW anyone can cut around the vent, then loosen the innards from the neck and pull everything out the vent (that's what I've read you're supposed to do). Everything is too firmly attached, you can't see what you're doing, and my hands are too big to go down in there. We didn't even try that method.

Instead, we did what my Grandmama told me to do, and it's one of the ways Carla Emery describes in her book. We took kitchen shears (note to self: order real poultry shears!) and cut along one side of the backbone, and opened it up. All the innards are easy to see, identify, cut free from the body, and dump out. On the second bird we cut along both sides of the backbone, and it was even easier.

The innards are more colorful and easier to identify than I expected. I expected everything to be kind of grayish nondescript and all mixed up. The lungs were *bright* pink, the liver a rich mahogany color, the gall bladder bright green. The gizzard was surprisingly firm. Hmm... I don't remember seeing the heart. Maybe we have heartless chickens!

It didn't stink as bad as I thought it would.

Chickens like blood. The other chickens made a pest of themselves, nosey things. A couple even jumped up on our makeshift table (plywood across sawhorses, with a plastic tablecloth). We had to shoo them away.

I thought it would bother me a lot, but it didn't really. NOW I'm bothered by the fact that it wasn't more difficult for me, emotionally (what kind of heartless beast *am* I?). My husband just rolls his eyes.

I marinated one chicken and grilled it last night. I used a grill with a propane tank and mistakenly left front, center, and back burners on. I was only supposed to leave front and back burners on. It was crispy to the point of challenging the structural integrity of our teeth :( I was really upset with myself for messing up the cooking after spending FIVE MONTHS brooding, raising, feeding, counting the chickens. GRRR. But, I'll pay better attention next time, and I suppose it's a lesson learned. My husband was very understanding.

Deep in the middle of the pieces, where the meat wasn't burned, it was a bit chewier than store-bought chicken but not unpleasant. It was juicy, despite being way overcooked and the chicken having very little body fat. The breasts tasted pretty much like store-bought chicken breasts, and the dark meat was richer, more like dark turkey meat (store-bought).

I simmered the carcass for several hours, then strained the liquid into a container. I picked the meat off the carcass bones and added them to the strained liquid, then froze it all. That will be soup one day.

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