Now one of our many winter prep projects involving moving our livestock around and into winter quarters, will be to introduce the newest batch of 15 layers to the original flock. I placed colored leg bands on them (each batch gets a different color so we can track how old the hens are) on Wednesday, and then tonight, I moved them into the summer broiler coop inside the pen. This lets them meet each other without the risk of injury during initial pecking order tiffs. After a day or so, the coop comes out and they are all on their own. By nightfall, everyone will know their place and, so the next chapter begins.
Since we have not been able to stay on top of our growing number of egg customers, when our hen supplier called this week and asked if we were interested in more hens, we discussed, considered holistically and said yes. These hens are about 6 months old. They were purchased in April by a person who sells eggs at farmers' markets over the summer, and when the markets close for the winter, they dispose of them. Some people slaughter them. This person offered them for sale to bolster winter productions and growing markets for those like us. These hens have another year and a half of good production! We decided on 20, and this puts us as of today, at 93 hens. When I arrived this afternoon to pick them up, there were 4 eggs in the crates. While putting the newbies in their stall at home, one flew off the crate and dropped an egg when she landed in the shavings! These hens will stay in their own stall for 14 days. If all is well, they too, will be introduced into the rest of the flock.
We are sold out of birds for this season, but are taking orders for next spring. the birds to the left are our white cornish cross. We will be offering a Heritage variety next year that has far better flavor and tender, juicy breast meat. We know you'll love them! Visit our products page at our website for an order form.
We are determining which pasture to move the ewes to next, and in the meantime, we are unfortunately feeding hay. But, there's only two of us, and we have multiple duties on and off the farm. As for breeding season, we hope to be increasing our Herdwick genetics with artificial insemination in early December. If we do this, there's quite a bit of handling that will have to start next week. To the right is the shipper containing the nitrogen tank in which likely the last of the Herdwick semen in the U.S. was shipped from the west coast to us. It is now stored at a dairy farm where I used to milk.
Closing up the garden...
Finally, we need to clean out all the dead plants and turn some compost in, to prepare the garden for spring planting.