Kitchen Witches – The New Batch

I did it. I managed to finish five more witches. It took me way longer than it should have, but I had quite a long break between creating the wire/foil/tape bodies and starting with the paper mache.

I stuck to the same method when creating the basic forms, although I made three heads with separate jaws so they have an actual mouth instead of just lips that I built up to create the impression of a mouth. This meant I could add icky teeth and a tongue.

I also decided to create the shoes/boots and hands fully out of clay, instead of the foil/tape form I used on the first five ladies. My hope was the hands and shoes would be a bit more refined if they were fully out of clay. It sort of worked.

I also decided to do only one layer of strip paper mache and I covered more area on each witch before drying. This made the strip application step go much faster. My biggest misstep this time was forming them and applying the strip mache before I really knew what each lady would be doing.

My biggest accomplishment this round was with my paper mache clay. I boiled the hell out of the toilet paper before mixing everything together, so the consistency of the clay was greatly improved. I also froze the clay in several batches, so I don’t have to make new clay for awhile.

The rest of the process was pretty similar to the first round of ladies. I did find out I can cut away the clay and foil if there’s something that really looks off. I trimmed excesses skull on one witch and a section of jaw on another. I was also able to smooth the dried clay by shaving it with a knife.

Trying to figure out what the ladies should be carrying has been a challenge. Because they’re kitchen witches, I wanted them to have kitcheny items. I got a bit more creative with polymer clay this time and created peppers, carrots, and a dead rabbit.

With the encouragement of my cousin Mandy, I also started playing with watch pieces to create additional items and made an ulu knife and a hatchet/meat cleaver using watch pieces and polymer clay.

Overall, I am very happy with how all of these ladies turned out.

The next five witches are already well on their way and will be ready for the strip paper mache in the next day or so. I have a fairly clear vision for all five, which is always helpful. It also usually means nothing will work out the way I’m envisioning. At lease I know I can easily remove faces if that happens.

The Kitchen Witch – From Bedlam Hollow

My parents always had a Kitchen Witch hanging in their house. She was paper mache and made by Sarah Kaufmann. That witch now hangs in our kitchen at Bedlam Hollow. I’ve had her for almost twenty years and my parents had her for at least that many, and as you can see, she’s held up beautifully.

I can’t say for sure, but I’m fairly positive she was the beginning of my love of all things Witchy. For those who don’t know, the Kitchen Witch is meant to bring good luck to your home and kitchen. While she may appear to be a doll, these witches are considered poppets; small figures resembling a human and used in witchcraft. Now, before you think having a kitchen witch will suddenly give you the urge to cook children, remember, these are good witches. They’re meant to help and bring luck. Although, if you find yourself looking at your child and then ordering a much larger cooking pot off Amazon, may I recommend the following:

There’s some debate on where these ladies originated from. Germany and Scandinavia (Norway, specifically) are the most popular origins, although I did read a blog from German Girl In America that said the first written documentation of a kitchen witch was found in a British will. Whoever died left their kitchen witch to someone else. As germangirlinamerica noted, there must have been some amazing food coming out of that kitchen! Regardless of where they came from, it’s believed people had them hanging in their kitchens as early as the sixteenth century.

These very early versions were most likely made from straw, clay, and old cloth, and pretty simple. I’m not sure how many people are interested in having a kitchen witch in their home these days, but I’ve been eyeing our witch for years, trying to figure out how I would go about making one. I knew I wanted to use paper mache, and lean towards the look of our witch. But I wanted to give her my own weird artsiness.

I started them in November and finished mid-January. And here they are – The Kitchen Witches from Bedlam Hollow.

I figured five was a good number to play with, and started by making heads and hands, and then creating the very basic ‘skeletal structure’, and then building out the body. This was done with foil, masking tape, and scrap wire from our electric fence.

Next was laying a foundation of strip paper mache. I made mine super basic with just glue and water and used strips of newspaper.

I made a paper mache clay and thickened the bodies with it, and also created the smaller features of the heads (including ears! I love their ears!!), hands, and footwear.

I played with different options for ‘brooms’ and then started painting. Hair was created with yarn and embroidery floss. The traditional witch hats were made from felt, and the clothes were all created using fabric I found at thrift stores. Figuring out the clothing was the trickiest part for me, but once I did, it went pretty fast.

And here are the finished witches… The flowers, frogs, fish, and little spoon were all made from polymer clay.

More recent witches (within the last fifty or sixty years) usually have a saying that goes with them. I found the sayings and poems quite charming, but I didn’t want to use something someone else wrote without permission. Again, trying to stay with a similar vibe, these girls all have cards with ‘The Kitchen Witch – From Bedlam Hollow’ on one side and on the other side, the poem I wrote. “She’ll keep your pot from over-stewing, and help you stop the over-doing. Food you make will be superb, as she guides your use of spice and herb. Your home will be free from harm, if your witch lives there as a good-luck charm.”

These ladies were sent out and are hopefully bringing good luck (and not weird cravings) to their new homes. I’ve received several inquiries on if I’ll be selling kitchen witches in the future. I’ll be honest, I’ve had that thought. I had a lot of fun making them and, much to Tracy’s delight, I already have a new batch of heads on the kitchen counter. I want to make another five or ten and fix some of the issues from the original five. I really need to make more clay and get it smoother. But I’m also incredibly fickle when it comes to art, so I won’t be terrible surprised if I finish this batch and then I’m ready to move on to something else. Like a nice mummified mermaid.

A big shoutout to Jonni Good at for her wonderful and extremely helpful posts about paper mache!

A Tale of Two Tails…

Once upon a time, a long time ago (approximately six years), in a land far, far away (Wisconsin) there was a man who had a few bunnies. Well, a shit ton of bunnies to be more specific. The man loved bunnies. He loved all the little fluffy things that people love about bunnies, but he loved eating them more. So all of these bunnies were destined for the freezer. Until two of these bunnies were taken away to live the good bunny life in West Virginia (short-lived thanks to a neighbor’s dog) and New Hampshire (with a five year stint in Maryland).

This is Hoppers, formally knows as Sir Hops A Lot. He was just a little guy in this picture but anyone who has been to our house in Maryland or in New Hampshire has probably had the chance to pet Hoppers, admire his size, and comment on what a fine pair of slippers he would make.

P1050093 (1)

This winter Hoppers had a stroke. Combined with his age we knew he probably wouldn’t make it to the fall, so we had a few discussions of what to do with the mammoth bunny hutch after he was gone. Although the hutch is big enough to house a young elephant, the sane thing was of course to leave it empty for awhile and make a decision next spring.

I ended up taking a trip to WI for a wedding event. This is also where the Bunny Man lives. Thankfully he did not have any bunnlets in the barn, but he did have four lovely lady rabbits that were housed together. They came right out when I opened the cage and asked for pets, and of course I couldn’t not pet them. And of course I had to point out to the Bunny Man how nice these four girls were.

After I got back home to New Hampshire the Bunny Man called to tell me that I had ruined those bunnies for him. They came to the front of the cage when he fed them, looking for pets and treats. There was no way he could put the in the freezer now, and oh by the way, it turns out that only two were lady bunnies. The other two were males.

It just so happened that Tracy had a trip to WI scheduled that included a 16-foot moving truck and a grizzly bear. Plenty of room in the truck for a couple of rabbits, I said. He told me there was no way he was bringing home the two girls because we didn’t need more rabbits. He was right, but of course he brought them home because he’s wonderful.

Griselda the Harpy Auctioneer is the solid black bunny (she’s with Hoppers in the first picture and me in the third) and Mad Madam Mim is the wild bunny with perky ears. Both lovely girls who’ve seemed to adapt to New Hampshire life quickly. So all was good. Hoppers had a couple of friends to live out the rest of his life with, and we’d still have two very nice rabbits once Hoppers died.

So, there’s a funny thing about getting rabbits from the Bunny Man. They sometimes come with, well, extras (as Cousin Mandy can attest to).

Grizzy and Mim had been with us for about three weeks when I went out to feed them and noticed something odd. Grizzy was stealing and carrying around her hay.


Since rabbits don’t generally carry things around in their mouth, I was fairly sure about what I was going to find when I opened the inner house…


Grizzy was nesting. She actually was pulling hair out of Hoppers to make her first nest (he didn’t seem too concerned by it) but the nest pictured was her second one (after I cleaned up the first and tried to give her a nesting box – which she didn’t fit in).

A quick calculation from the day I left and when the two bucks were removed from the cage did support the pregnancy suspicion. I did some light belly probing and was pretty sure I felt babies bopping around and I could also see movement when she was laying still. Poor Hoppers got moved out of his big house since moving Grizzy could cause stress and result in her eating the potential babies. I also decided to leave Mim with Grizzy since they were bonded and separating them could also cause stress.

During the late morning of June 1st Tracy found that Hoppers had joined the Great Bunny Warren in the Sky and we planted him in the garden. That night or early the next morning, Grizzy had her bunlets.

These pictures are from day 3 or 4 – the first day I just did a quick check to make sure everyone was alive and did a quick count. Five babies. I was thrilled, since five is a very doable number when trying to find homes.

As the babies grew and Grizzy declined to eat them, I learned that there were actually nine bunlets. I also learned that baby bunnies are a lot like popcorn at the beginning…

We’re learning many interesting things about rabbits and mothering practices. Grizzy and Mim are defiantly co-parenting. Mim actually spends more time with them than Grizzy does, and I would say is the more nervous of the two when it comes to possible threats to the children.

Rabbits also carry out speed nursing and only three or four times a day. This is so they don’t draw attention to the nest where the babies are.

The bunlets started occasionally go out on their own, looking for Grizzy if they feel they haven’t had enough to eat…

They opened their eyes on day 12 and really started doing bunny-type things by day 13…

Yesterday I started handling everyone so that they’re fully user-friendly by the eight week mark, which is when they can be weaned. It’s amazing how fast they change in 24 hours. They’ve become quite adventurous.

Today was the first day they started eating rabbit food, which means we can start introducing them to treats. So now, other than slightly squished faces, they look and function like real rabbits. The plan is to keep one of Grizzy’s daughters and find the other eight bunlets homes. Considering the plan for this year was to NOT acquire any new animals and we now have 24 new chickens with another 15 coming, and baby bunnies, who the hell knows how many of the babies we’ll end up with.

The obvious moral of this tale of 14 bunny tails, is no good deed (saving bunnies from the freezer and making your wife happy) goes unpunished. But if the punishment involves fluffy bunnies, count me in.

A Quick Word About Turkeys…

They’re stupid. An example:


This is the current temperature tonight. 29 degrees. It’s cold.

2 turkeys on the roof

These are two turkeys who decided roosting on the top of the house was a better plan than going into the coop tonight with the rest of their turkey family.

Need I say more?

Fall – Tis The Season…

…For Killing Harvesting!

Gloomy fall

But we really mean killing when we say harvesting. Or processing. Which are both nicer words for what amounts to murder. Whether you’re yanking onions from the ground, ripping pumpkins off the vine, or removing the head from a chicken, it all ends up dead and on the table. And I think that’s just fine. I’m all for growing/raising/harvesting/murdering…whatever you want to call it.

Our garden was quite the murder scene this year. And by that I mean it was a big FAIL! We started out strong. I made tons of notes on different veggies and different varieties. We bought seed trays and started them in plenty of time for things to sprout, grow, and harden.

But everything went to hell because life gets busy and weather doesn’t cooperate. So we ended up with a lot of dead plants. But dead in the not useful way.  I managed to kill over 300 hundred plants including a variety of herbs, tomatoes, peppers, squash, and sunflowers.

We’ll try again this winter but scale it back and time things better. It will also help if I actually get things planted in the garden in a timely manner. That was another factor in the Great Garden Disaster of 2018. The potatoes were the only things that went in at a somewhat acceptable time. Everything else was late (like middle of July late) or didn’t go in at all. So we got lots of nice looking plants and vines, but very little off of them.

Tomato risers

I did find out that even though the started tomato and pepper plants looked like hell, they did beautifully out in the garden. The tomato risers that Tracy and Evan built also worked amazingly well, and I think smaller versions would work for other viney veggies.

Here are my sad beets. They weren’t completely sad in this picture, and I actually was hopeful we’d get at least a few small ones this year. But notice how some of the leaves are missing or half missing?

sad beets

That’s because we had this to contend with…

Turky face

The turkeys and chickens played a major role in garden issues this year. Anything that actually got big enough to pick had all sort of holes from these guys. Next year we’ll be putting a fence around the garden. It won’t keep them out completely, but they won’t be able to just take over, either.

Our end of year vegetable total was about 50 pounds of potatoes, a ton of summer squash that nobody else ate so the pigs got it all, 10 good sized zucchini, a couple of bags (sandwich sized) of tomatoes, and about two dozen small onions. Oh, and two very sad little carrots. The blueberries, raspberries, and apples were also a complete loss this year, but I can’t take credit for that. Weather seemed to be the biggest factor and the majority of people I talked to had the same issues with fruit and berries.

So that’s the garden for this year. There are still some tomatoes out on the plants that I’ll pick and put in the freezer, and I may get a few more decent onions. But for the most part everything is done and I would rate this gardening season as a bust.

Luckily the protein end was more successful…


The Bear Facts of Poultry Farming in NH…

“The other day. I saw a bear. A great big bear. Oh way up there!” Ok, so if you didn’t go to Camp Bird during the summers of your youth, you may not be familiar with the song. But the message is the same. The other day (Friday to be exact) I saw a bear. He maybe wasn’t a great big bear, but he was big enough. I wasn’t terribly surprised to see him because he’d made a visit to the turkey coop only a handful of hours prior and left with two of our turkeys. Asshole bear.

Friday morning I went to let the birds out and saw this on the turkey coop door:

bottom of coop door

We had a fisher cat in the yard only a few days before, so I figured he must have been around, trying to get in for a meal. I opened the door and the waterer, which is pretty big, was tipped over. I had just cleaned the coop so I was irritated, but I figured the birds must have gotten into a squabble and knocked it over. I picked it up, headed back out the door and saw this:

door frame

There were large chunks hanging from it (I pulled them off before thinking better of it) and at that point, I knew something really wasn’t right. The broadbreasted turkeys have some mean claws, but nothing that would have done that type of damage to the wooden frame. Finally, I noticed this:

Window inside

Originally fastened securely, the hardware cloth was torn from the building and crumpled quite impressively.

Wooden chunks on the floor of the coop and the window from the outside.

This was our first real attack on the birds, and even though you know it’ll happen eventually – we do live in bear country – you’re still not quite prepared for it. Especially when you realize the bear got away with some of these:

And left you with:

bear poop

As mentioned, he came back later in the afternoon to see what else he could find. The keets were squawking up a storm so Javi Bad Dog and I went out to check on things. The bear popped out of the woods behind the coop, pleased as he could be. I went running down the yard (in my socks, once again), yelling and clapping like a crazy lady. Luckily the bear was feeling accommodating and went back into the woods. Javi Bad Dog was completely oblivious to the bear until after it was gone.

We looked around and it seems like he tested a first window before moving to the window facing the woods, where he would have had more privacy to work:




We now have an electric fence around the coops, and hopefully that will deter the bear when he comes back.

It’s a bad year for bears – the blueberries took a hit with the heat, the drought at the beginning of the summer, and now a lot of rain. The apple trees are also thin, and I was told the acorns are also bad this year. So I can’t blame him for going after an easy meal of turkeys and meatball chickens. Of course, that doesn’t mean we’ll be skipping our bear tag this year.

When Life Gives You Winter…Make Maple Syrup…

bedlam hollow tree with bucket

When you live in New Hampshire there are certain things that are expected of you. You’re expected to drop the ‘a’ off the end of words and insert ‘er’ (and vice versa), ski, grow a beard, and wear flannel. If you’re able bodied and have something to tap, you’re also expected to produce syrup. It doesn’t have to be a large quantity – enough for one breakfast is acceptable – and it can be a thrown together operation – just so you do it. About a week and a half ago we finally joined the rest of the syrup producing population and tapped our first trees…

Tapping a tree and collecting syrup is a pretty straight-forward affair. For optimal collection the temps should be in the low 40’s (Fahrenheit) during the day and the mid-20’s at night. You then have to locate a tree that will produce sap. Ideally you’ve taken the time over the summer and fall to locate good candidates. We didn’t, but we have two very large, old sugar maples on our property that we were pretty sure would work. If you don’t have maples, or you aren’t sure what type of maples you have, don’t worry. There’s actually a fairly extensive list of tapable trees. Maples work well because of the higher sugar content in the sap. 40 gallons of sap from a sugar maple are needed to produce one gallon of syrup. In comparison, it takes 100 gallons or more of birch sap to make one gallon of syrup.

Tracy sap tools

Some items you’ll need for tapping a tree are a drill with a 7/16 inch bit, a hammer, a spile (also known as a tap or spout), a bucket, a lid, and a hook (for hooking the bucket to the spile). If you’re half-assing it because you’re new to the whole tapping process, zip ties and bungee cords are also recommended.

You’re looking for a tree that is at least 12 inches in diameter. You can use more than one tap per tree if the tree is big enough (over 20 inches), but we stayed with one tap per tree for this year. After identifying a tree, examine it to find a good place to drill. You want to drill into the tree between two and two a half inches at a slight upward angle. You can use a twig to clean out the hole (oops) and then insert the spile, tapping gently with the hammer.

sap drip

Once the spile is in place you should see a clear liquid dripping out pretty much immediately. There’s actually a little drip of sap in the above picture, about halfway down. It looks exactly like water. At this point hang your bucket on the hook. If you forgot to place the hook on the spile before pounding it into the tree, pull the spile out, insert the hook, and re-insert the spile. If you haven’t quite figured out how to make the hook, spile, bucket, and lid all work as one, whip out your zip ties and cinch that bitch together. Because at this point your hands are probably frozen and you no longer care about looking authentic.

1st 24 hrs sap 2nd tree

We collected our first sap 24 hours after tapping and got about a gallon and a half between the two trees. The weather was on the colder side so the sap flow was slow and there was quite a bit of ice. The ice has a very low sugar content (we tried some) so it can be thrown out – this just means there’s less water to boil out of the sap. (Note the bungee cord and zip ties in the first picture.)

Collected sap

It’s recommended that you boil the sap within seven days of collection. We have about three and a half gallons sitting in the fridge waiting to get boiled down – and that will be tomorrow’s adventure.

The Brutal Realities of Chickening…

Most people around here have chickens. Depending on who you talk to the chickens might be farm chickens, backyard chickens, or pet chickens. The people I’ve talked to enjoy having their chickens because, let’s face it, chickens are fun. And most people tell me that having chickens is fairly low stress. Until something came in and ate all of their chickens. And then, distraught, pissed off, or just frustrated by the whole process, many people end their chicken adventure.

We knew that we would have chickens on our farm because of the insane tick population and because we wanted eggs. We also knew that free ranging our birds meant we had the potential of losing a quarter to a third of our flock from predators, sickness, stupidity (the chickens, not us), stupidity (us, not the chickens), and death sentences. As we’ve progressed through winter, we found that our estimate was pretty accurate.

About a month ago I looked outside and found the guineas out in the trees. This isn’t something to be alarmed about because the guineas like to perch high when the mood strikes them.

I thought, “what are those foolish birds doing up in the tree?” and grabbed my phone and took pictures and video. As I was taking pictures I started paying more attention to the area around the coop and came across this:

feathers from attack

Feathers, especially lots of feathers, are never good. Especially accompanied by:

What you’re seeing are marks in the snow from the wings of birds freaking out. One or two might be a couple of roosters fighting. But when you have them all over it means a predator came in. In this instance, we know we had two somethings come in because of the tracks. Probably coyotes, one smaller and one bigger. We quickly counted chickens and found out we had a significant number missing. Tracy found one of the largest Ameraucana roosters in the woods still alive but with a huge tear in his back (he died that night). He found our large Barred Rock rooster dead in the woods. Tracy said the smaller animal must have had this rooster because he could see where it had to drag the rooster through the snow and kept dropping it. The rooster finally got lodged between trees and the smaller animal left it. My little Bantam Cochin hen, Tilly, was also gone and we suspect she was taken easily because of how little she was. Tilly was the worst for me because she was our only pet chicken.

We also found several chickens scattered around the property. A group was hiding out in the front of the house and another hen was way out in the yard, tucked up in one of the huge pines.

I had the chickens out for monitored play time around the middle of January and one minute everyone was hanging out and the next there was a large coyote coming down the hill, almost to the coop. The chickens were all calm as could be, standing around without a care in the world. I ran outside, yelling and cursing at it to get the fuck away from the chickens (who were staring at me like I was crazy). It finally turned around and went back up the hill but it took its time and then stayed up on the ridge watching.

A few weeks after that I was looking out at the back and noticed something moving in the orchard.

fox in orchardfox in orchard 2fox in orchard 3

He nicely stayed in the orchard and then turned back and went into the woods behind the pond.

Our latest predator encounter was with a very lovely Fisher Cat. Tracy caught him on the game camera taking a dead rooster (check out our Face Book page for the video).

Which brings up another part of owning chickens. What I like to call “flock control”. We have roosters in our flock. Simeon Smith is our main rooster and he’s honestly one of the nicest roosters I’ve ever seen. He’s fairly gentle with the ladies and he has no problem beating the shit out of a rooster who isn’t nice to the ladies. But we have a lot of roosters, Simeon can’t be everywhere at once, and roosters become redundant.

The Triplets are a perfect example of redundant roosters. Three Sumatra / Cochin crosses that looked pretty much the same.


Our plan was to leave the roosters alone until they started showing aggressive behavior. Things were fairly quiet and then one of the triplets started attacking Old English hens. Breeding is a part of coop life if you have roosters and sometimes breeding can seem a little, let’s say unromantic. If the hen doesn’t seem distressed and the rooster gets through the breeding fairly fast I’ll leave them alone. But the OEs are about a third smaller than the full sized roosters and this guy only went after the OE hens. So he was put on the execution list. His brothers were quickly added to the same list (and met similar fates) when they started going after hens, one after another, during feeding time. I ended up grabbing the remaining two triplets and then watching the hens. It’s amazing how calm things are in a coop when you don’t have aggressive roosters fucking everything up. Needless to say they were dead that afternoon.

So there you have it – two of the brutal realities of chickening. Combine those with the fact that chickens are heartless killers and cannibals, and you might ask, “why bother having them at all?”

There’s nothing like fluffy little chicks, a mother and her babies, roosters crowing in the yard, keets calling from the trees, and farm fresh eggs. That they’re vicious little raptors is actually part of their charm, too.

Know Who You’re Eating…

It’s funny where destiny leads us. Some people are destined to help others. Some people are destined to be famous. And still others are apparently destined to raise and kill meat chickens. I happen to fall into this last category. My destiny was predicted by my oldest sister with the creation of a business card about 25 years ago…

Gutting card

We grew up on a farm where we ate a large portion of what we raised and grew. I don’t know that I appreciated it when I was a kid, but as an adult I am certainly grateful for the skills I learned in my youth. After watching how fast I could kill a chicken, my husband was also appreciative – and a little nervous.

One of our biggest goals for living in New Hampshire and starting a farm is self-sufficiency. Because we moved almost half-way through the year, we knew the first year would be a lot of trial runs, which meant starting small. A small garden with just a handful of different vegetables, hatching out a few more egg layers (ok, the laying flock didn’t stay quite as small as it should have), and raising a small number of meat chickens.

If you ever get the crazy urge to raise your own meat birds, the first thing you have to do is find a reputable hatchery. We bought Jumbo Cornish cross chicks from Cackle Hatchery. This chicken is a cross between a commercial Cornish chicken and a White Rock chicken. They’re produced as a commercial meat bird and grow so fast that their legs can actually give out because of their weight. They also tend to fall over and die from a heart attack if you let them grow past the recommended age (approximately 10 weeks).

About a week after you order, you’ll get an early morning call from the post office letting you know your chicks have arrived. You’ll walk in and you’ll be able to hear the pissed off peeping immediately.

meat chick box

But there is something truly charming about looking into the holes of the cardboard box and seeing this:

through the peep hole

These guys were only a couple of days old but you can see that they were already getting wing feathers, something that doesn’t usually happen for about a week.

Meat chicks arrived

When you open the box don’t be surprised if one or two chicks didn’t make the journey. Cackle throws in a couple of extra just in case someone dies before arriving. We lost one but everyone else was quite healthy looking.

Aren’t they cute and fluffy? And yellow? And identical? If you’ve raised layers, you’ve probably noticed that even if you only have one breed of chicken, they have some individuality about them. A bit of color variety, feathers that lay just a bit different, and of course, lots of different personalities. That’s what makes them fun to watch. Meat chickens are not like layers. They eat, drink, and poop. And that’s it.

little meats in the coup 2little meats in the coup

We moved the meat chicks into the coup at around two weeks. They were quickly outgrowing the brooders and they created so much poop so fast that the garage was starting to smell.

Unsure layers

The layers were not impressed with their new roommates. At this stage in their lives, there isn’t a whole lot to say about them. They ate and kept getting bigger.

This is how they looked at about 25 days. Notice the legs on these suckers…

Meats in the coupMeat legsYoung Meat

They were also already developing a much heavier breast.

This guy is a Sumatra Bantam Cochin cross (Tracy calls them Tillimatra’s because the Bantam Cochin hen’s name is Tilly). This chick is about a month older than the meat chicks but much smaller in body size.

Young Tillimatra

The next few weeks consisted of eating and popping. We finally felt they were big enough that they could hang out in the main coop with the layers.

Meats in the back

You can see them in the back of the herd of chickens. It was one of the snowy days so nobody was particularly eager to go out, but the meats more or less spent all of their time inside. Eating and popping (are you noticing a trend here?…).

There are a lot of good reasons to raise meat birds. You know what your birds are eating, you know how they’re being treated, and there’s something quite satisfying in knowing you were able to grow something to feed you and your family. But there’s also a lot of reasons that raising meat birds is a huge pain in the ass. They’re filthy, they eat a ton of food, you have to clean them out about 10 times more often than layers, and they’re dumb as rocks. I watched one of the roosters try to jam his head through the chicken wire to get at the pan of food on the other side of the wire. All he had to do was move about two feet through the door (like the layers were doing), but nope – instead he kept bashing his head into the wire. Over and over and over again.

We butchered our meat birds just after 10 weeks and I have to say, even though it was cold, windy, and rainy as we did it, and our toes were frozen by the end, our backs ached from bending over, and the boys swore they were going to have dreams for weeks of plucking feathers, it was a very happy day.

Frozen chicken

For a trial run, it was pretty successful. We have a list of things we’ll do different next year when we get a larger batch of meat birds. A different coop arrangement, an automatic plucker, and butchering during a warmer time of the year. But two things were confirmed. The layers are heartless little bastards – they hung around us the entire time to see what we were doing and steal feathers, and farm raised chickens are delicious.

pot pie