Now that we’re in full production mode in terms of eggs, washing them has become the latest addition to the daily farm chores.
Right now I’m using the same brush to de-poop the eggs that normally de-greases the cast irons… I need to remedy that pronto.
Our New Hampshire Red rooster has officially been christened Tom Waits, as he likes to vocalize his gravelly crow around 4 AM.
On the plus side, he’s started mounting some of the hens, which bodes well for future chick production. Watch out, girls.
Will’s been making Julia Child’s coq au vin recipe for years, but always with broilers (quick tangent – many people today don’t know the difference between a broiler, a fryer and a stewing hen, knowledge we’ve lost in the past 50 years since the supermarkefication of our food supply. Broilers are the youngest you’d eat a chicken, which can be as early as 8 weeks with today’s hybrids. Tangent now over). This time, we actually used one of our roosters (mystery chick, not our New Hampshire Red) and the difference was amazing!
The whole point of the technique is to cook down the tougher meat of an older bird, so I shouldn’t be so surprised, but for a dish that I already found to be perfect, this was a culinary example of why we took on this whole farming venture… because you’re not suppose to use Cornish cross-, fatten up in half the time of traditional breeds-, Americans only ever eat broilers- chickens for everything. Not just because it’s unnatural, but because you can do delicious and interesting things with variety, the way our traditional, pre-giant refrigerator food culture understands. The very people who invented coq au vin in the first place.
So here’s a little photo montage of the entire creation. Be jealous of the mad skills of my awesome husband…
And then to really put things over the top, serve after finishing on an open fire while pressing cider (more on the cider pressing in a future post)…
pullet chicken egg, chicken egg, duck egg, double yolk duck egg
We got our first pullet eggs from the chickens today. Three to be exact. As you can see from the picture above, pullet eggs (the eggs chickens lay when the hens first start laying) are rather small. The awesome part is that the yolks are almost as big as a normal chicken egg, meaning the yolk to white ratio is way in favor of yolk, which makes for fantastic fried eggs.
The even more awesomeness is that in another week or so we should have enough eggs to start selling them to the restaurant, marking the first time we’ll actually get any payment for what we’ve been doing these last seven months. Woohoo!!!
My husband did an incredibly responsible thing – he scheduled a visit with our local extension agent to make sure everything looked okay around the farm. Here’s a brief run down.
The good news is everyone looks healthy. The not so good news is that we may not have enough pasture to support 5 ewes and their lambs. The d’uh news is that the reason the sheep haven’t been eating much hay is that the stuff we bought turns out to be loaded with something called foxtail, which they don’t like. Also, it’s invasive. Awesome. The bad news is that it turns out that our pasture has the “wrong kind of grass” so it looks like we’ll be attempting to pull up wire grass (we were told to RoundUp and put the sheep somewhere else, but we don’t have a somewhere else, nor am I excited about the prospects of using RoundUp) and seed for things like clover. We also need to get our pH checked, so we are now equipped with soil samples.
The pigs look great. The aggression we were worried about is really considered playfulness (think dogs). Also a plus, we’ve probably been feeding them too much so we can cut back a bit, which will help expenses. The pasture over winter, woods by summer plans was met with approval as well.
The birds look healthy. She was a bit skeptical about our plans to breed without an incubator. Also, mid conversation, while hanging out with our New Hampshire Red rooster in the yard, a loud cock-a-doodle-do came from inside the coop. Turns out our mystery chick is a dude, which probably means he’ll be dinner sometime soon so as not to have two fighting cocks. If they can keep it civil until we move the New Hampshires down to the lower coop for baby-making this April, he may get a stay of execution. That being said, his penchant for crowing at 3 AM and waking up the toddler doesn’t bode well for his longevity.
She’d never heard of ducks that don’t swim. The fact that my most common search phrase for this blog is “ducks won’t swim” begs to differ.
Overall, it was a good visit. It’s comforting to hear that all your animals looks healthy from someone who actually knows what she’s talking about.
Just this week, our New Hampshire Red rooster decided to start crowing.
Alston refers to him as cock-a-do-dooooo. I think it’s great, but my bedroom is also the farthest room from the chicken coop, so ask me again come spring when the windows are open.
From what I’ve read, I should expect eggs at anywhere from 20 – 26 weeks, which means I won’t see eggs until about Jan. 2oth (the hens are currently 15 weeks old).
The three ducks from the original shipment (1 rouen and 2 khaki campbells) are already 24 weeks old. The other three rouens, including the drake (not that he’ll be laying anything) are 18 weeks old. I’ve read domestic ducks usually start laying at around 20 weeks if the light is sufficient when they reach that age. Being a mere 6 days from the winter solstice, I’m going to go with a no on that one.
Can you tell I’m getting a bit anxious (and hungry)?