More snow… Can winter be over yet? We have really gotten good at managing the fire in our stove and have had a few days where I was able to keep the house at 70 degrees, even with it in the teens outside. I’m a person who loves heat, so the hotter the better!
The animals are wishing for spring as well. The goats and llamas are spending most of their time in the barn, making the daily clean up fun, and the chickens only leave their coop for a few minutes during free range time. On Monday we had a little warm spell and the animals ran and leapt through the pasture, acting crazy and having so much fun. I guess cabin fever is getting to all of us.
Last night we ordered new chickens. They are scheduled to be shipped on March 10th! We are down to 5 laying hens and they are not enough to supply us with all of the eggs we need for our family of four. Our girls are getting up there in age and will start laying less and less, so we have decided to purchase a second coop (instead of building another one from scratch), put it in the pasture with the goats and llamas, and retire our current girls there so they can free range all day and live out the rest of their days happy and unrestricted… except my the pasture fence. We are hoping they will also keep the bug population down in the pasture. With this order we got two breeds of chickens; Easter Eggers and Black Copper Marans. We ordered 3 female and 1 male Easter Eggers, and 7 female and 1 male Black Copper Marans. The plan is to put the Easter Eggers in with the “retired” chickens. The Black Copper Marans will go together in the old coop that Kevin built. This will keep the roosters separate and allow us to have pure bred fertilized Easter Egger and Maran eggs if we want to expand our flock or sell the eggs.
We also got 3 male Buff Orpingtons to meet the minimum shipment requirement for this time of year. We plan to use these guys as meat chickens since My Pet Chicken doesn’t offer actual meat chickens. We had to go through MPC because they offer the lowest shipping requirement (we do not have space for 25 chickens at the moment) and had the breeds we wanted. This will be our first experience with butchering and we are very nervous about the whole situation, but we have friends who have promised to help us. If all goes well we will do a full batch of actual meat chickens later in the spring. This is a subject I have struggled with quite a bit. It’s sad that I am so detached from our meat source that it is painful to think about butchering an animal to feed my family, but I have no qualms with purchasing meat from the store. I know I can offer our own meat chickens a much better life. I have been told that I have built it up in my head too much and that I will be fine after the first butchering. I know it will feel good feeding my children healthy meat that was humanely raise (spoiled, really).
On another note, we are SO excited to announce that we have been accepted to the My Manakin Market Saturday market for this spring and summer. We have also been extended at the Wednesday My Courthouse Market in Goochland through the rest of the year. We have loved being apart of the market group!