The large clearing we made in 2020 ended up being a chicken run in 2021, much to Bill’s annoyance. We had gotten a meat bird order with mixed breeds in March, and 35 birds hatched on our farm in June 2021 from “Sam” the Rhode Island Red rooster and “the girls,” who are Rhode Island red and Plymouth Barred Rock.
When those farm-born chicks hatched in June of 2021, I bought some Leghorns and Lavenders to raise at the same time. We ended up losing a lot of the new birds to predators in the fall of 2021. We saved some of the best meat birds from March 2021 for breeding with our hens, including a Plymouth Barred Rock, “Jay”, a Giant Buff Orpington, “Buster”, and a Speckled Sussex, “Spike.”
The roosters were getting noisy, and we moved the new 8’x4′ coop and all the 2021 birds deeper into the uncleared part of our forest just before the snow started to stick to the ground. Eggs went scarce for the deepest months of winter, because we don’t have a light in the coop, and we don’t heat it.
When spring returned , we got up to 19 eggs per day! We had twice as many layers and eggs as the year before. I started a new batch of eggs in the incubator, timed to hatch on Easter of 2022. It was a smaller hatch than 2021’s, but a much greater variety of chicks, coming from our 19 hens of two breeds and our 4 roosters, each of a different breed.
But then we had some more chicken losses near the end of June (2022) just as I was trying to fill up the main garden and rehabilitate the still-rough extra garden space, which had become completely overgrown with grass, weeds, and water sprouts around the 2021 tree stumps. All this, under the looming specter of food and fertilizer shortages.
… To be continued