February 6, 2019

Ceaberry's Homesteading: Work-stead Wednesday, Depopulation

Not everything on a farm is sunshine and roses. But some tasks which you personally think you cannot do, I will guarantee that life will MAKE you do them. You won't get a choice, face them and embrace them. NOTHING is too hard, NOTHING is impossible. You just have to figure out how you personally are going to face the task with your circumstances and resources in mind.

As I mentioned I had to depopulate. After talking to neighbors, they told me they don't care if their chickens get mycoplasma, probably assuming they already have it. I told them about the basil to help the symptoms (which has worked WONDERS for my flock but that is a different post). It might be because my neighbors know my history and know that this would devastate me. They also love chicken watching my chickens since I free range them in my front yard and they love watching them. They got so upset when I moved my coop to my garden and they couldn't see them in the run when they passed by my house. I live on THAT kind of road, they aren't busybodies, they honestly enjoy seeing the animals and all the improvements I have been making and it makes them smile. I don't know if my pink fuzzy hello kitty PJs and Keep Calm, Farm On shirt makes them smile but I know they are laughing on the inside.

Anyway, back to depopulation. I got with my mom (part of the flock is hers) and we decided to cull the columbian rock crosses (they are sold at Mt. Healthy in case you want to see them). They are a dual purpose bird, almost leaning toward a meat bird. So we figured if my feed conversion has now gone down then the ones eating the most feed for the least gained needed to be culled. It also helps for a little bit of overcrowding and the personality of some of the chickens were a bit bullying. I had one killing chicks in the run so it was decided. Today we depopulated 16 of the hens. Now you'll see me go between culling and depopulation. To cull is to actively decide to kill a chicken for a specific reason within your control, and to depopulate you are culling chickens because you MUST do it. It was a little bit of both with these chickens.

My brother and my mom came over and we set-up the whole process. With a few hiccups we made it through. I will go through a more detailed version of what happened with all the warnings later but for now, it took 5 hours from set-up to all clean.

Its done, and now we can move on to the next phase. I will be watching my birds. Anyone not recovering nor laying (besides my roosters) will need to be depopulated/culled. I have fancies for my own egg production and to give to my brother. The others are my egg laying flock to sell to my buyer.

I have to say if it wasn't for family and friends and neighbors, this would have been one of those tasks. The one that may lead to the end of my homesteading life. I think everyone could see it in my eyes, a small light was slowing fading as I faced the reality of my situation. I never once said it was impossible nor was I going to do it. It was them who told me it was ok, it was ok to continue and it wasn't worth my losses to worry about theirs. They have flocks of 10 birds that do not mingle with my 80+. They know I lost so much to two rogue dogs, to lose my flock to something that isn't going to kill their birds, they felt wasn't necessary.

This depopulation isn't over but I got 7 eggs today. Thats more then in the whole months of December and January COMBINED!