This year on the farm, we decided to go a bit bigger. No new buildings (well, except a planned pool house for the new pump and filter), no grand land acquisitions. Just, more birds.
The meat chicks have been a great success. We find the meat far better tasting and textured than factory meat, and love knowing exactly where and how the chicken was raised. And it's hard to get more local than our own yard, really. Unless I raised them in the kitchen.
Which isn't happening.
Last year's trial of ducks was another great experiment. As with the chicken, we enjoyed raising them (frankly, they're more fun to raise), and again the meat was wonderful. So this year, we're getting more of the same.
The first group of chicks, 26 versus our usual 16, is now a month old and growing well. I had to expand their outdoor run so that they have plenty of space, but that was just a matter of some plastic fencing and posts that we pounded into the ground. A second batch has been ordered for the end of the month, along with ten ducks, up from last year's five. I'm hoping to squeeze in one more round of chicks before fall as well.
For two weeks starting at the end of June, there will be over 75 domestic birds on the farm. Here's hoping they don't go all Hitchcock on us.
While ordering the ducks I asked about getting them processed. I take the chickens to a place that takes care of everything (including meat inspection) for $4. Hand them over flapping, get them back as grocery store-style roasters. For $4 each, they are welcome to the mess. We learned last year, though, after having our ducks,that they don't do waterfowl. Oils and pinfeathers mean that they can't pluck them.
So last year, we did them ourselves. Now, that was a learning experience. Turns out, however, that processing ducks runs a person about $15. Per bird. 'Sharpen your knife,' I told D, 'we're doing it again.'
Then we got to laughing when I jokingly suggested that people get friends to help them move; why not have friends to help with the ducks? Have a plucking party, everyone takes home a free duck! D laughed and said, 'now that sounds like a sure way to not have any friends.' Well, he does have a point there.
Also on the animal front, Titus the puppy has arrived at the farm and is rapidly growing and exploring everywhere. I'd forgotten the joy/insanity a puppy can bring. It's like having a very active toddler, that chews shoes.