Posted: August 10, 2009
Entirely Homegrown: Hens headed for the chopping block
Still weeks from egg production, the two youngest birds will have to earn their weight the hard wayMike Taylor
The first week of the entirely homegrown experiment is in the books and was about as tough as expected, but it’s about to get easier. This morning I made the executive decision to butcher my two youngest hens.
They’ve got no hope of maturing enough to contribute any eggs during this month-long regimen. Might as well get what I can from them, food-wise.
Two small hens carefully rationed should make the final three weeks a lot easier: drumsticks, thighs, wings, breasts, and the carcass and skin for soups and stews.
A little background: Some months back I had four hens producing four eggs a day. That ended sometime in spring when a fox killed one and my dog Spock, newly adopted from the Denver Dumb Friends League, killed the other three.
Figuring I still had time to raise some replacement hens to egg-laying age by August, I bought two Rhode Island Red day-old chicks from American Pride Co-op in Brighton. That was in early April, I think. Within a few weeks I became concerned they might not be laying in time for the backyard-only diet, so I went on Craigslist and found a hen source in Strasburg, about an hour east of Denver, up I-70.
I bought two more young Rhode Island Reds, both a few weeks older than the ones I had. One of the Strasburg hens finally started laying about five days before August 1. The other should start producing any day.
There’s no hope for the other two, so now the only decision left to make is whether to slaughter them myself or find a boutique butcher. I’d also like to point out that butchering livestock at a residence is illegal in Denver, but I admit that’s largely a convenient rationalization for not doing it myself.
Potatoes, egg and sauteed greens, a daily staple soon to be augmented with chicken.
Either way, stay tuned for a video of some sort next week.
Mike Taylor is the managing editor of ColoradoBiz. He writes about small-business money issues and how startups are launched. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.