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Fall Harvest, Taking Cuttings and Where Did All My Chickens Go?


Wow...ok... so where do I begin?  It's been a few weeks since I posted my last article and a lot has happened. I've been thinking all day about how I can condense it, so here it goes.

About one month ago I posted how the meat chicken experiment was going. Everything was moving along swimmingly. I had 17 cornish cross,15 red rangers, 2 barred rocks, and 1 white rock (in a pear treeeee) all on the grass and doing well. In the brooder I had my third batch of cornish cross chicks. I had to work two days in a row, therefore I had not been in the chicken yard in the daylight to really check things out. My mom lets my regular flock out for the day and checks to make sure everybody has food and water. She didn't notice anything different in the meat pen at that time. But one morning, after having worked those 2 days, I walked out to find all but 5 of my meat birds were gone..... 17 cornish cross, 10 Red Rangers plus the 2 barred rocks gone. Overnight. WITH OUT A TRACE! And I said "whaaaat?" . The cornish cross were only about half a pound and my red rangers were right at about a pound. I was planning to butcher them the following weekend, but some coyotes or something beat me to it. I had 4 rangers and one white rock left. A few days later the white rock was gone, so I decided to put the four that were left in with the rest of the flock and make them go in the hen house at night. That worked out until last week when two of the rangers disappeard. It just keeps getting better and better doesn't it?  I need to reassess my set up and learn from it for next time. Anyway, this morning around 10 o'clock, I decided on a whim to butcher the two that I had left before they were gone.

Now here is where I offer the disclaimer. I'm going to talk just a bit about butchering and show some not-too-gross of pictures. So if you prefer not to know how I do this, stop reading now or forever hold your peace. First, it's never easy or fun so just know that now. But I take a deep breath and go for it. I prefer to hold the bird in one hand tightly and slightly upside down and just make a slit on the jugular vein and let them bleed. They don't flinch or anything. In about 30 seconds they just go to sleep. I removed the head and dipped him in very hot water till the feathers were easy to remove.

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Because he was small, I gutted him in the house. This is what you call a full crop.

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Usually you don't feed your chickens before butchering but remember, I said I decided "on a whim", so there ya go! The crop is under the skin and as they eat, it fills up and slowly sends food to the stomach. So it was full of grass, corn, little rocks and things. Farmers and biology nuts like me geek out on this stuff. This is the final clean bird.

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I slathered it in oil and seasoned salt and baked it at 350 degrees for an hour or so. Not sure how long really, I just kept checking it till it was done. Very tender and delicious!

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I did some other, less bloody harvesting this week as well.

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Sweet potatoes. Got about 18# out of 5 containers. If you want to know how I did them, just email me at the addy below. So we have plenty for Thanksgiving, Christmas and beyond.

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The monstrosity known as the Cassabanana from Central and South America did spectacularly well for a first time try. They need heat to ripen to red and be fruity, but even our growing season isn't long enough for this.  However, they can be harvested now and eaten as winter squash. I cut one open yesterday and it was lightly sweet and similar to a cucumber. So I'll have to get back to you on cooking them because I just don't know yet!

I moved a fig out of a container and into the garden. Took 7 cuttings from the tips to see if I can root some to plant next year.

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So far they have been in a glass of water and have little white spots that look like they are trying to be roots, but no appreciable roots to speak of. However, the leaves are growing, so I potted them up and added a pinch of slow release house plant food. I don't know if that will help or hurt but we are going to find out.

Petri the duck is alive and well though he did get into a kerfuffle of sorts last week with something. He had a skin wound bigger than a quarter under his wing, but the muscle and stuff underneath was clean and in tact. I washed it and put ointment on it. He walked a little like Fred Sanford for a few days and did not enjoy his regular play sessions with Meeka the dog for a while. But he took a full on duck bath yesterday and seems happy.

And last but not least, I still have about 20 cornish cross in the chickpen now, but inside the shed.

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Obviously I will not be able to sell as many as I wanted, but hopefully they will grow bigger soon and I'll be able to recoop, (omg, is that a pun) some of my loss.

Anyway I will try not to stay gone so long from here out. Enjoy the fall weather and I'll keep on keepin' on!

Jill Barlow


Future articles will include information about gardening, meat birds, egg birds, photos and lots of project ideas.

For further information, to ask a questions or to suggest a program topic, contact Jill Barlow at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..