It's been time to cull our flock of 31 chickens for a while now, and today was the day. Tom and I have a good system worked out that runs smoothly. I catch (or shoot, if need be) the unlucky bird, then hold it while Tom does his work with the axe. We skin and eviscerate the birds instead of plucking them - much easier and less time consuming. So, Tom does that while I go fetch the next stew victim.
We culled four birds today: Big Blackie, our top-dog Black Giant who had gotten much too big for his britches these last couple of months. The pretty Silver-Spangled Hamburg rooster also went, unfortunately. He was gorgeous but had a son from my March hatch that will be even prettier than he, I think. Of that March flock we ended up with three new roosters, and since five are too many, the two oldest ones had to go. A sickly Black Australorp hen also went (we didn't save her to eat), and a little Buff Cochin Bantam that I'd inherited from my dad also got the axe. She'd been broody for months now - just eating and sitting with no eggs to show for it.
I ended up having to shoot the Silver-Spangled Hamburg with the .22. He's much too savvy to allow me to get close enough to catch him. But, one clean shot was all it took. The little bantam was covered in fat - from her couch potato life, for sure!
After the butchering, Tom does a fantastic job of cleaning up the birds at the back pump. Then, it's in to the kitchen for me to take over with the final cleaning . . . then, into the big pot they go! So, they stewed all day with lots of veggies and fresh seasonings and are now drop-off-the-bone tender. Tomorrow I'll pick the bones for the meat and strain the chicken broth to freeze for future recipes.
Butchering is one of those things that isn't very enjoyable - rather a grit-your-teeth kind of job - but it's rewarding knowing that you're seeing the process from start to finish. And, when that fresh Chicken Pot Pie comes steaming out of the oven it's mighty rewarding indeed!
Because today was a day off for Tom's entire office at work (the annual summer boat trip) he headed up to the property this afternoon. He got a lot of miscellaneous tasks done - seeded my chicken yard-to-be and the slope in front of the solar panels that could be susceptible to erosion with grass seed, mowed the driveway and around some White Pines we planted, cut some trees that were restricting views from the house-to-be, skidded some logs with the pickup, and so on. He did have one scare, though, when he was seeding the chicken yard. It was super gusty and windy - a lovely day, actually - and all of a sudden he heard a crack overhead, and a standing dead tree DROPPED right next to him. He said that if he'd been standing just a foot over, it would have beaned him or Maisy. It wasn't large enough to seriously hurt him, but he would have had one helluva headache!
I, meanwhile, "SIPped and stewed" all day. Stewed the chicken meat and worked on the SIPs for the house. I got the north side (front) of the house all done and most of the south side as well. A person could go cross-eyed staring at little graph paper and lines and crunching numbers all day!
So, that's been the news lately. We did talk to our well driller and garage builder. The well driller is back in action but still a couple of weeks away from getting out to us, unfortunately. I will call him on a weekly basis "just to check in" - the squeaky wheel gets the oil, right? And, the garage should be started about mid-month. And, again, I won't be hesitant to check in with him on a regular basis between now and then, too!