I’ve decided Oehlschlager Farm is not an appropriate title anymore.
Matt and I are now the proud owners of Roosterville.
At least that’s what it feels like after our last chicken debacle.
It all started with (what I thought was) my best idea yet.
We were ordering our spring chickens when I thought it would be great to add some flavor (no pun intended) to our rather uniform flock.
We ordered the “Grab Bag” of hens, which promised to feature a mixture of several different varieties of hens. Sold!
“Why not order our broilers at the same time?” I cleverly thought to myself.
So, I purchased another special — the “Pan Fry.” Later I learned this means a variety of birds that aren’t cross-bred for extra fast gaining, but a slower-growing meat bird.
They were all to arrive in the same shipment — all 50 teeny, tiny little tweeting creatures in one little box.
(At this point, I am still VERY excited. Ignorance truly is bliss.)
When we cracked open the box and I first saw the birds, I began to realize my mistake.
Since these were a mixture of varieties, it was nearly impossible to tell which were the hens and which were the meat birds.
They all looked different.
So I separated them the best I could and immediately got on the phone to the professionals who told me “There is really no way of telling them apart until they are older.”
But we kept trucking along. What could we do about it now?
Then one Monday (about dinner time, of course), I noticed something was wrong.
Something was VERY wrong. Half of our birds had this giant mass on their back ends. It was huge, nearly as big as their bodies.
Our “chicken professionals” were closed, I couldn’t immediately find answers online. Matt was too busy at work to help.
It was all up to me. The lives of these birds were in my hands.
“I can do this,” I reassured myself.
So, I confidently (yeah right) headed out to study the situation. Soon I realized the poor chicks were constipated on the outside.
The heat lamps had escalated “the situation” into a rock-hard, tumor-like mass.
VERY disturbing for us chicken amateurs.
I soaked them in this, I soaked them in that. Nothing was working. “It” was literally super-glued on them — tail feathers and all.
It was rapidly turning into a serious situation. Chicks go to the bathroom like every four seconds (or more) and with nowhere to go, I imagined they were at death’s door.
There was only one way left to save them.
I pulled out our hair trimmers off the shelf, grabbed a bird and flipped the on switch. I nearly cried with the poor creature while I attempted to shave “it” loose.
Thankfully Matt walked in from work.
“What in the world,” he screamed. “This is ridiculous!”
(At this point I’m crying hysterically trying to explain the seriousness of the situation and how, I feared, their was no hope.)
Frustrated (and thoroughly annoyed), he picked up a chick, grabbed hold of “it” and yanked it off.
He then set the bird free, minus all its tail feathers, as I watched in amazement.
The next day our birds were back to normal (well, as much normal as is possible here).
And the week came when we had to decide which birds were going to “go.” (At this point they all looked the same.)
So, we chose. We guessed. And hoped for the best.
Now, four weeks later, our “broilers” are resting comfortably in freezer bags and I have started to see some curious changes in our so-called “hens.”
It looks like we did an excellent job of categorizing our “Pan Fry” birds and the “Grab Bag.”
Unfortunately, it looks like we butchered the wrong group.
Can you say Roosterville?
Categories: Life on the farm
My name is Ginia Oehlschlager and I'm a small-town gal from Missouri. Join me as I document my crazy life on the farm with my husband and four kids. I'm always looking for frugal, simple ways to live the life God set before me. Where faith, family and fun come together on the farm.