Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Downside of Farming

Most of the time I spend thinking about farming it's about the positive aspects of generating our own food and improving the land.  Things like appreciating superior food quality, the joy of watching livestock antics and the satisfaction of helping to preserve the genetic diversity of critical species.  But the farming experience is certainly filled with it's share of challenges.  It's not too hard to move on after a crappy corn season due to a drought, peas that went from seed to the compost pile from a sudden heat wave, or an epidemic season of squash bugs wiping out the majority of Cucerbits.  And then there are the real problems...

A couple weeks ago I moved the broilers out to pasture.  The hatchery was back ordered this fall, so our chicks arrived about a month after I had originally planned, which pushed the raising period into cool / cold weather. 

Moving Chicks to Pasture
About 10% of the flock died from the cold the first two nights outdoors, but the rest adapted well and really started to put on some weight.  That's a pretty big loss ratio for us, but it's recoverable.  About two weeks later, I went to the coop for morning feeding and all but three birds had been killed by a predator.  By the nature of the kill, my estimation is that one or more weasels dug through the coop and went on a killing spree.  A weasel will go after young poultry and basically kill everything in sight.  They bite the head off a chick, lick the blood pumping out and move on to the next one.  The really disturbing part is they don't eat much and leave the carcasses behind - a total waste.  I'd much rather have a fox in the hen house.   A fox will grab a couple birds and drag them away, but at least they eat what they kill like a respectful hunter.

So that's the end of our fall chicken project.  We're close to finishing the meat we've been keeping from our summer broilers and the next batch won't be ready until May or June, so it's probably back to grocery chicken for a while.  At least I'll get a chance to appreciate what I'm missing in the meantime.

No comments:

Post a Comment