We have downsized our chicken flock somewhat over the past two weeks. The two older flocks were combined over a month ago and we then selected out those that seemed to be laying. This is done by a physical examination of the hen looking at it’s general appearance, especially around the head looking at the eye and the colour of the comb and wattles and the tissue surrounding the eye. The vent is examined as it is obvious from the vent appearance whether or not the hen is laying and we look for signs of obvious unhealthiness. From this the hens that were retained as still laying, were passed on to Aerron and Maggies friends and to Heather and Kevin next door as older layers, and the ones culled out went on Monday last to ENS Poultry near to Elora where they were killed, plucked, cleaned, weighed and packaged. We took them there, a one and a half hour journey the one way, for 8 in the morning and returned there for 4:30 in the afternoon to pick them up. This facility is well run by Mennonites and provincially inspected. I actually was talking to the inspector while unloading.
The remaining birds are all younger. There are two flocks of layers, one acquired as ready to lay early last fall and the other acquired in March again as ready to lay. The fall gotten flock will be retired out at about a year old, as older layers to be given away and the non laying of them will go for more soup hens. At about this time our chicks acquired as day olds at the end of April will be starting to lay. The chicks are all older heritage unusual even somewhat rare breeds. They mostly do not lay near as well as our present laying flock but they will do better over all as a free range farm flock on whole grains and scraps. And they really look nice. Some of these are a dual purpose chicken making nice roasters when young and being good though not excellent layers. Some of these breeds should make very good roasters when they are well matured too.
The garden planting continues though very much more slowly than we’d hoped. We are doing too many things too slowly. The present hot weather slows us down too and we cannot do transplants when it is this hot but tomorrow is to be cooler and transplanting can resume. Still much to go in. The transplants look really good and things will grow very quickly as long as we keep them well watered.
Aerron has used the single row horse drawn cultivator a lot to prepare the garden. We have reduced our tillage. as at one time, years ago, we would have plowed, then used the disc harrows and then used the cultivator to finish the ground preparation. Now only three to six passes with the cultivators works well. We are also putting down compost in each bed, not a lot, but not a lot is needed and will mulch with straw to retain moisture, provide cover for life and more food for the critters in the soil as the season and the year goes along. The horses also are making more work for us as they are still not all that well trained to work. We got them that way. They do not stand well and do not back well. They need a lot of training work but we don’t have time for that so their training is as they do garden or wagon work. It requires two of us to hitch to an implement and one of us always has to be on the lines at all times. This is a real nuisance. Flies have been bothering the horses too. We know how to eliminate the tiny gnats that get in the horses ears but the face flies and body flies are another matter and these are the major nuisance. Deer flies are not too bad but horse flies can cause a real dangerous situation as horses get real agitated and hop around a lot when they buzz about. Fortunately they are rare.
Cows, sheep and horses are well and grass is good. No hay in yet though.