Winter is definitely here to stay now but the poultry gods have been very kind to us lately!
We recently replaced most of our older laying hens with some lovely $3 apiece (!) Wyandotte pullets who will be ready for egg laying this spring and we also came across a Craigslist ad for more freebies this week.
This time we scored about a dozen healthy, pasture-raised hens (and three roosters – see below) along with seventeen big, fat ducks from a local hobby farm:
We immediately butchered two of the roosters since they were obnoxiously loud (as are these particular ducks) and the rest will all be done sometime this week:
We have plenty of room for everyone in the cozy, heated coop:
And our poultry tunnel that leads to the big pen is working out beautifully even in the snow since we covered it with a heavy tarp:
I’ve mentioned before that this time of year is the best time to find lots of folks around here who are downsizing their flocks because they don’t want to spend the time or money caring for chickens, ducks, etc. through a long, cold winter and they know there aren’t a lot of buyers out there this time of year so it’s cost effective to just give them away.
Why would they give them away and not fill their own freezers? A lot of people have a surplus of meat already and some don’t have the heart to butcher and eat critters they’ve often raised from hatchlings.
Especially if they’ve named them (again, see below)!
I don’t blame them, of course, but we don’t mind the butchering part (well, the hubby doesn’t!) and we are happy to scoop them up so we can fill our freezer! It saves us a fortune and it’s a win-win for everyone (well, except the poultry of course – ha!).
There are a couple of exceptions this time as to who ends up in on the chopping block (literally!) since I’ve fallen madly in love with this little pair of bantams who are honestly just too darn cute to kill:
Ricky and Lucy are still pretty young and are quite the pair and are the only bantams in our flock. Lucy is just such a doll:
And handsome Ricky rarely leaves her side:
So naturally now that I’ve named them they will live happily ever after here at the Empty Nest and will most certainly enjoy their stay since all of our critters are extremely spoiled.
Even the ones we eventually cull and eat (duck dumplings – yummmmm!!!).
Speaking of that, Santa is bringing the hubby a top-of-the-line chicken plucker to make his job much, MUCH easier:
With so many to butcher now (and so many to come) we feel like it’s well worth the investment (around $400). I’ll be writing an Honest Review on it in the near future once we put it to the test.
So stay tuned and happy backyard farming!