Changing of the Seasons
One of the other things that comes with this cooler weather is the reality that winter is coming. Hence, the pressure to get the number of animals reduced to a manageable number for the winter, starting with all the young cockerels. I've been busy processing, but since that's again a one-person job around here, it averages me 15 minutes per bird. So far, I've processed 17 cockerels, but I realized the other day I simply didn't have time to process every single rooster before leaving October 5th.
Someone mentioned "auction", and although I haven't considered that option before, it seemed like a feasible option this time around since I had many cockerels who are too small to process yet.
So, Tuesday evening, we repurposed some old rabbit cages and miscellaneous wire cages into transportation cages to take the cockerels, a few older hens & some ducklings to the auction. They were nothing fancy, but at least they served the purpose & it cleaned up some of the "might be able to use someday" pile. Once the cages were loaded in the truck & lined with mulch hay bedding, it was dark & everyone was roosting. Easy time to catch & load in a dog crate, carry up the side hill to the truck & place them in the cages. After many trips, lots of flapping of wings, squawking, and writing down the wingband numbers in my handy small notebook, we had them all loaded - 33 cockerels, 8 hens & at least 18 ducklings. Plus, the 11 pullets that will be going to their new home Wednesday afternoon, were caught & separated, so they can go out on pasture this morning.
Oh, and we also worked on the "third-world coops" under the pine trees, as the roof hadn't been finished since we started back in July. Even with all this downsizing, I have an order of hatchery pullet chicks due to ship out Wednesday. Two broody hens, Lydia & Crocus, will help raise them during the winter, and in the spring they will go to their new homes. I ordered them because a friend wanted some pullets & after considering my options, I decided that the most economical way would be to order pullets from a hatchery, instead of waiting another 21 days for eggs to hatch & have to raise out even more cockerels.
While we're again on the cockerel & rooster subject, let me introduce to you the newcomers:
This is the Swedish Flower Hen cockerel that I'm keeping for another non-related
breeding line. I'm excited to see what colors he'll throw, since he's "blue-based",
rather than "black-based" like Kevin, the current rooster.
His handsome brother went home with some of my pullets on Monday night,
so he'll also be put to good use.
Now, this is a Blue Double Laced Barnevelder,
who originally came from Blue House Farms in NC, but I purchased him from
the same lady who had these Swedish Flower Hen cockerels.
He will be used as another out-cross in the Catskill Homesteader breeding project.
He's such a pretty boy, and even though I have other "similar" feathered roosters,
he's from a totally different bloodline.
This other SFH cockerel was an extra included with other two, because he's a runt
and had crooked toes. Even though he's strong & vigorous boy, I decided to send
him to the auction as well. You're not supposed to use chickens with crooked toes
in breeding, but I didn't want to just process him myself.
Well, it's almost 7:30, and even though I've been up for 2 hours, I need to officially start
the day by taking care of the animals and getting ready to leave by 10 am for the auction.