Saturday, July 4, 2009

To market, to market

The chicks have grown exponentially. That's what chicks do. They are a month old now, getting too big for the kiddie pool we have them in. Tonight or tomorrow night I will transport them (via cat carrier) outside to the coop. We have a mini-coop set up inside the larger coop building. The mini-coop is about four feet wide by eight feet long by two feet tall. It is made of 2x4s and enclosed with welded wire fencing.

The chicks will go inside the min-coop for several days until the older chickens (the four that remain) get used to having a bunch of crazy youngsters nearby. Then we'll let the young mix with the old and after a period of frantic adjustment, eventually come up with one big happy chicken family.

That is, until the new roosters get old enough to challenge our old rooster. Then the fighting over who gets to be head-honcho will start. I anticipate our old rooster will lose, given the fact that most of his toes are broken (from chick-hood), and hence has an awkward limp to his gait. We plan to butcher most of the young roosters when they reach five or six months old. We have utility-strain chickens, so they take longer to mature than hybrid broilers.

If I had ordered broilers, or Cornish Cross chickens, I could have butchered at two months old. Those grow amazingly fast. They grow so fast that if you don't butcher them at two or three months, the meat gets too heavy on their bones and they can't walk anymore. Either that, or their breast meat gets too large and crushes their lungs. They need special feed and special care. Some people call them Frankenchickens.

Utility chickens (those that are good for meat and eggs) grow slower, don't need special feed, and act like normal chickens do. They don't have as much breast meat but they do have more dark meat on their thighs and legs. Since they take a lot longer to mature, they cost more to feed. That's why I like to have mine free-range around the yard, eating bugs and grass, to supplement what I feed them. I'm hoping the chicken-killing raccoon is gone by then. We haven't seen or heard it recently, ever since we've been keeping our chickens locked up. Fingers crossed.

I went to the farmers market before work this morning. We've got a pretty good market, for a small town. We've got two vegetable vendors and two bakers right now. I saw radishes, lettuces, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas, zucchini, cucumbers, cabbages, kohlrabi, asparagus, strawberries, new potatoes, sourdough white and wheat breads, yeast breads and buns, quick breads, jellies, cookies and bars. A huge variety of good things to eat. Last week I bought sourdough bread and chocolate chip pan cookies. The cookies were calling to me: I couldn't resist. This time I exerted tremendous willpower and held myself to a pound of asparagus.

In a week or two we'll get a few more vege vendors at the market, and then later this summer we'll have someone selling squash and pumpkins, and someone else selling apples. We'll have turkeys and turkey pies for sale from the local turkey farm. We might even get a mushroom grower, if he can get his production in line.

I love farmers markets, and anything I can do to support them, I'll do. If that includes buying and eating a lot of yummy veges, bread and chocolate chip cookies, well then that's a sacrifice I'll just have to make.


Karen said...

I love the idea of a farmers market in your home town. Believe it or not, Woodbury has quite a large one. It's hosted in the YMCA
s parking lot near our house. Emily, Phill and Bethany get up wayyyy early on Saturday morning and drive over there. Phill buys all sorts of veggies and fruit. The fruit we eat, and half of the veggies too. The other half rot in our fridge cuz I have no idea what to do with it and Phill has already forgotten that's it's in there!! We could bring our TEN kittens and momma cat there with a sign for adoption!!! Look on Emily's facebook page for pictures of the little cuties!!

Jo said...

That's a great idea about bringing the kitties to the Farmers Market for adoption. Although the $150 or so that big city farmers markets charge vendors might not be worth it. Have Phill ask someone there what they pay.

Kudos to you for going to the market! And yes, I too end up throwing out some veges. Had to get rid of some mushy lettuce from our weekly box the other day. You can only eat so many salads before you start sprouting leaves.

Harold Phillips said...

I think you should allow yourself some cookies, my dear... you're a hard workin' woman and a mom. You've earned them :)

And I have to tell you, when it comes to keeping that farmer's market produce fress... these things - - really do work! We've had zuccini stay fresh in the fridge for four weeks! Cheesy commercials aside, they're worth the $20 you pay for them :)

Jo said...

Yeah! You're right! I deserved those cookies! And the Doritoes I ate yesterday, and the ice cream I ate the day before that, and ....

Hmm. I sense a trend here.

I'll look into those green bags, thanks for the tip! I hate throwing away moldy food. Gives me the guilties to waste anything like that.