Yesterday we got a package that we had to go pick up at the post office. It was 200 little chirping birds. For those of you who have not ordered birds via the Postal Service before, I will explain. The hatchery raises the eggs and hatches the birds. Then they send them overnight shipping and they get here the next morning (or in some cases 2 mornings later.) We go pick them up where they are making a big noise in the small post office, bring them home, and see to it that they stay warm, well fed and generally happy. For the first week of their lives chicks need to be at about 90 degrees. After that it drops as they get a little bigger and heartier.
Chickens who will lay eggs arrive at the beginning of February. This means that they will be out on pasture and laying eggs right around the time when our vegetables come into production. So when we begin CSA distributions, eggs should be available. Here lies our challenge, February in Vermont is not the ideal time to find any place that is 90 degrees.
|The first stage: Once they get bigger we will put them in a larger brooder.|
|Kevin inspects his new friend.|
In the summertime we can keep our meat birds in the brooders in the barn until they are ready to go out on pasture. A few heat lamps ensures they will not get cold at night. It is a relatively low stress operation. But where to put 200 fragile little lives when the snow is up above my waist and the barn seems to actually be colder than the outside. The answer: The Basement.
It gives us more peace of mind, we can hear them chirping, a sign that they are happy and living. The chicks are Barred Rock and Black Sexlinks. In a couple weeks another 100 will arrive, Red Sexlinks. They will all begin to lay eggs in June. As they get bigger and heartier we will move them to larger brooders in the barn, then they will get an open space where they can get outside and in May, when the danger of them freezing has passed, they will move out onto pasture, where they will be free to roam, eat bugs and grass and clean and fertilize our pastures. Then they will begin to lay happy, healthy pasture-raised eggs.
Groundworks Farm Pasture-Raised Eggs will be available for sale to all CSA members. They will also be available for sale off the farm at our farm stand Monday-Saturday beginning in June 2011. For more information on our Pasture-raised eggs click here.