Notes from Windward: #69


Bird Update

wrapping up the summer's work


     The battery brooders have served us well over the summer and now it is time to put them away--clean and ready for next spring. The electrical units (lights and heater) need repair but other than that they are ready to go into storage.

     The box brooder and tire brooders have given us places to isolate injured animals or small clutches of birds while they grow. The baby guinea fowl have been enjoying the box brooder and just recently were allowed out to join our flock of guineas. We now have 8 guineas out patrolling our land for yellow-jackets.

     Warmerator Update: mid-August the small fan inside started making noise then failed and the temperature in the Warmerator peaked at about 106°. I quickly brought the Styrofoam incubator and the circle incubator back on-line for the rest of the fall. We stopped adding eggs earlier this month and now it is almost time to box them up and put them away except for the guinea clutch I found last week. The newly discovered guinea eggs have gone into the incubator; I candled them yesterday and a few looked viable so I'll have to wait another week before storing everything.

chocolate colored eggs from the Cuckoo Marans, an egg from the Araucana, and one from our Rhode Island Reds

     Today we decided to kick off the fall butchering season. We decided to process eight birds between the six of us. I started by separating the birds we would butcher and locked them in the Duck Palace. I started with the Indian Runner Ducks since I wanted to cull the extra boys from the flock. We have seven females and decided to keep three males. That left two more boys which we invited to dinner. Next I visited the chick plex and the tire brooders for birds that had been injured and ones that are at the bottom of the pecking order.

     We have been learning more about butchering and recently came across several videos showing how Polyface Farms processes their pasture raised chickens. I was fascinated by their ultra-quick gutting process. I tried it last time and when I finished my first bird today, I couldn't believe I was done because it seemed to take very little time. In fact with all of us working together we finished in about an hour and a half. As we continue to work together and build our skills the time it takes to process eight birds continues to go down.

     We put the two ducks into the crock pot and the six chickens into the freezer. The internal organs got labeled for cat food and the feet and necks went into the second crock pot. Carina plans to make cat food tomorrow.

     Since we plan to butcher once a week until we reach our desired winter bird population here are a few things to improve on: several of the birds had very full crops and I hope to separate them earlier in the day or the day before so we don't waste feed on butchering day, learning how to use the blood, and watching the YouTube videos again to improve our skills.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 69