Featured Flock Owner: Lord & Lady Hens
Eggzy: How do you raise your birds, are they pastured?
L&L Hens: Our girls are free range at all times. They have a number of “pastures” we rotate them through, that are all netted, because we have a plethora of predators: about six neighborhood dogs (our neighborhood is in the country, so there are no fences), a lot of hawks, vultures, eagles, weasels, foxes, raccoons and probably more creatures that just don’t sign into our guestbook when they come by. The hens have access to these areas at all times and are generally out and about in the morning before we come down to see them and get all tucked into their coops before we’re done for the night.
Eggzy: Do you have a favorite breed?
L&L Hens: Laura (our Lady) is the one who chooses the birds. She is obsessed with rare and endangered breeds. If it can withstand feet of snow for half the year and is rare or endangered, she wants it. Right now our favorite is probably our brand new White Sultans (we got them in April 2012), they are just too fun to look at, with their little poofy heads.
Eggzy: Do you name your chickens?
L&L Hens: We have named a couple of chickens. One was named Buddy, she followed us around everywhere and loved to be held, hence the name Buddy. She died last year when a weasel snuck in and got a few of our girls. Our other named chicken, is Broody. Last year she went broody and we brought her into the garage to break her of the habit. When she was back outside after recovering from her broodiness, she was attacked in the same weasel attack that claimed Buddy. She had huge wounds under her wings, on her cockscomb, her back, really just all over. I never thought she would make it but I brought her back to our garage and tended her wounds every day, throughout the day, cleaning them, making sure she was eating and drinking, etc. Finally, after a few weeks, she healed up and made it! It was such a success that her name Broody stuck, and because of the “bonding” through saving her & her scars, we have been able to remember which is her and kept her name. The rest of our girls, though distinctive, have not had the history or story to earn a name yet.
Eggzy: Do you sell your eggs?
L&L Hens: We do sell our eggs, to our friends and family and just this summer started to sell them at our local farmers market, through our friends that own and run Bareknuckle Farms in Northport.
Eggzy: Do you cull birds from your flock?
L&L Hens: Since we raise meat birds as well, we have no issue with culling birds when necessary and have done so. Normally, it is no big issue, same as slaughtering for meat, though there was one time in particular that sticks in my mind. Last year, four of our heritage turkeys were attacked by a raccoon, through the chicken wire of their night time enclosure. It was vicious and horrible and we didn’t understand how the raccoons were able to do it; however the worst part was, the birds they attacked weren’t dead, they had,had their top beaks torn off, so they were in pain and slowly dying. It was so awful Thomas had to have Laura cull them rather than he do it. That was a rotten one, but had to be done, part of the responsibility of raising your birds.
Eggzy: Do you have any advice, tips or insights you would like to share?
L&L Hens: Our main advice would be to not give up and learn from every mistake and catastrophe. Lots always goes wrong, but as long as you learn from it, we feel it’s the way it should be. We constantly think everything is going great, then that’s the day that a weasel gets in the enclosure or a fox digs two feet under the fence to get in or a raccoon gnaws through the wire. We are constantly learning and adapting to our environment, to the animals, to the weather. At first, every little problem and death is a tear fest, but the more you deal with it, the more you realize & accept the reality & simplicity of life. And the tradeoff is amazing, healthy, delicious food, that teaches you and your family life lessons.
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