Every time you feel in God's creatures something pleasing and attractive, do not let your attention be arrested by them alone, but, passing them by, transfer your thought to God and say: "O my God, if Thy creations are so full of beauty, delight and joy, how infinitely more full of beauty, delight and joy art Thou Thyself, Creator of all!
- Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain

You can’t get to joy by making everything perfect. You can only get there by seeing in every imperfection all that’s joy.
-Ann Voscamp

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Growing Young Animals and Old Hens

I was away for a day, and things really seemed to grow in that small amount of time, but then again I was really busy for a couple of days before that. I guess I failed to notice the progress that was happening last week. The garden has grown a lot, and the bunnies and chicks have too. Here's a picture of the bunnies. They're almost ready to begin weaning. The does will be bred again this week, after the bunnies are five weeks old (on Wednesday). A week later the weaning will begin with the heaviest ones. By the time they're seven weeks old they'll all be weaned and the does will have 2 weeks to rebuild their reserves and grow their new litters. By the first week in August each doe should have a second litter.

I forgot to take a picture of the chicks. They're now over two weeks old. They've graduated from the small cardboard circle I created in the brooder house. Now they have the whole thing to roam in, and I made a wire screen to put in the doorway so they have fresh air and can see out when it's warm. They seem very happy with the arrangements. They love to look outside and are very lively, "flying" onto the tops of the feeders. It's really entertaining to watch them.

We lost one of our old hens today. Actually we had to "put her down" as she had a prolapsed vent beyond treating, and was egg bound with broken bits of egg coming out. Because they're getting old, we're having some egg problems. I don't know if this happened really fast or we didn't notice it when it started. I feel pretty lousy thinking we may have missed some earlier sing that things were going awry. However, it's possible that it happened quickly and there were no earlier signs. Since the chickens are older and have been through a few molts, they're laying larger eggs. Sometimes this fouls up the works. Also, sometimes two eggs may try to come through at the same time. If an egg has a wrinkle or a flat side it may be that two eggs collided on their way out. Sometimes the larger eggs begin to have thin shells and break easily. This happens because the hens have the same amount of shell material to cover the larger eggs. A large egg with a thin shell might break just inside the vent causing all sorts of trouble.

Umm...that's not what I meant to talk about in this post. I apologize if that was TMI.

Any way, I hope the rest of our old hens make it for a few more weeks until we have time to butcher and can them. I hope to have some really great canned chicken to use this winter. These old hens have over an acre and a half to range in and look very healthy. People comment that they're the prettiest flock of chickens they've seen. Unfortunately that's probably because some of them aren't laying anymore. Most of them still are laying though, and they do look real pretty right now. I'm not at all grossed out by the thought of eating these old girls. I love their summer diet of plants and insects. It makes me happy to think of eating some great soups and casseroles with this meat and homegrown veggies. :)

Next post: garden pics, I hope.


  1. I would love it if you would do a post about your chicken canning when it's time! Thankfully, you have some little ladies growing quickly and can take the old girls' place!

  2. Erin- I'd be happy to! Hopefully before the end of July that will take place.

  3. We don't have any qualms about eating the older hens who have stopped laying either, Patty. I would never consider using an "old" hen ( any other bird) from a battery raised operation (!), but we know exactly what our hens have eaten all their life and what kind of life they've had! I even stew old roosters (a v-e-r-y long time). I can't remember what it was I made a while back, but it was with an old rooster (maybe a pot pie?) and Papa Pea commented that he thought the meat was the best chicken meat he'd ever tasted.

    Your rabbit crop looks super-healthy!

  4. We are also getting some larger eggs from the older girls. Sorry you lost one but I'm glad you shared. I hadn't thought of that happening so I will be on the lookout now.