For more than twenty-five years my wife Alice, and I have kept a flock of chickens. We love to hear the roosters crowing in the morning, and ,of course, we enjoy farm fresh eggs.
The money we make on the eggs is used for feed, not only for the chickens, but also the pigeons and rabbits. What we make from selling young rabbits we purchase food for the dogs and for Eddy, the pot-bellied pig. The dogs in turn, guard the homestead. Eddy, is just a pet that belongs to my youngest son Dave, who brought him home 12 years ago. I always said that my son and Eddy are a lot alike. They are both strong, intelligent, friendly, and both run when they hear the lawnmower start up.
The pigeons are white racing homers and pay their own board by way of ceremonial bird releases at funerals. Everybody,except Eddy, has a job on our farmstead.
Most of our chickens are Chanteclers , which is the only breed of chicken that is truly Canadian. In 1919 the Government of Quebec commissioned Brother Wilfred Chantelain, a Trappist monk, to create a practical Canadian breed that would be extremely cold resistant, and a dual purpose animal for eggs and meant production. By crossing various breeds he was successful and by 1921 the Chantecler was admitted to the American Poultry Association Standard of Perfection.
We do keep others though, like the Light Brahma, the Black Rock and various mixed breeds. They all lay eggs and they all taste the same. Very good.
Our birds are all free range. I call it the “Real” free range. The Government, who would never upset the commercial guys, has declared that a free range chicken is a bird that has access to the outdoors. Emphasis on access.
So, the big guys, who keep thousands of chickens, provide a run with several small openings. Some chickens never go out, but they have access to the outdoors.
Our flocks, three coops of them, are turned out every day and wander the yard and fields , making their way to their nests when the need to lay an egg arises. Each hen returns to her home coop at dusk, each to their own perch.
Since we don’t need the girls laying every day we don’t feed a laying mash. They get,corn,wheat, barley and oyster shells. An average hen will lay about five eggs a week on this ration. The eggs have a thicker shell and a beautiful orange coloured yolk. Just the way nature intended.
Still, some folks won’t eat farm fresh eggs ,fearing they may not be healthy . I’ve heard people say because we don’t candle our eggs they may not be suitable as food. The commercial producers don’t candle either. Only hatcheries do that because they can’t waste time incubating eggs that are not fertile. People are funny in some ways. Eggs all come from the same place folks.
We also hatch our replacement hens by the natural way. That is , when a hen goe’s broody (wants to set) we put eggs under her and let the hens hatch their own. Though, we do take the day olds and put them in brooders (heated boxes) until they are feathered in.
Years ago we did use an incubator with about a 90 % hatch rate. With the hens doing the work, we get 99% success.
Another plus for us and our flock is that the same customers who purchase our eggs also buy raw honey from our own bee hives. And most of them, can’t resist a jar of homemade jam, so one thing leads to another. Chickens, for us has been fun and profitable. I couldn’t even imagine living in the country without keeping a flock of these practical birds.
Thanks for reading, so,until next time, cockadodledo.
Keep the faith friends, it gets better, it always does. Jack