I’m going to make my first attempt at adding some fun photos to the blog post. Does that make it a… plog?! :B
Edit/update: since it seems to have worked and looks nice, I’ll work on adding photos to more of my previous posts.
We recently got about 12″ of snow, and there’s still plenty more on the forecast. At last, the snow has come! We’ve hardly had 3 feet of cumulative snow up to this point, which is very unusual.
To celebrate, it was time to clean 12″ of fresh powder and 12″ of crusty old melted snow off of some roofs.
One of the rigorous winter chores is cleaning off vehicle and building roofs. It’s hard to say how much snow would collapse any given structure or vehicle. It’s also hard to say how much it might snow over night! So best not to leave anything to chance. It’s best to just clean the roofs off when the snow gets 15″ to 20″ deep.
The dogs break excellent trails through the knee-deep powder. Windy drift areas along the unpacked trails are sometimes waist deep. Neoma the Dog took the trail-packing lead with with the help of her abundant puppy energy, albeit her trails zig-zagged from tree to tree in ever-hopeful pursuit of squirrels…
Spring is fast approaching, but it’s not here yet. As I mentioned in my post about the 2020 Harvest, we still have a few loose ends in the realm of the barnyard. Today concluded the rooster round-up from the 2020-season. 7 more roosters to butcher and we’ll be done… almost…! There’s still a few cockerels from late-fall/early-witner hatches that are too young to butcher yet. But these are the last of the un-needed crowers.
We raise a few different bird breeds. One is the Marans, a breed that, to my knowledge, originated in France. I’ve been raising a few different ‘lineages’ of marans for about 8 years. The breed was developed, I assume intentionally as they are a meat bird, to produce 70-80% male offspring. The boys are much larger than the girls in this breed, so more boys means more chicken meat each year. This is one reason you don’t commonly find marans available from big-box hatcheries. Hatcheries always have too many boys to begin with, and trying to reproduce and sell a breed that produces mostly male chicks doesn’t make for good business. As a hatchery, what would you do with thousands of extra boys?! They’re already giving their boys away and still have too many!
Most of my butcher boys each year are pure marans or half-marans crosses. These last 7 roosters on the whack-list are lavender Ameraucanas crossed with black copper marans. A handsome group, but alas, “more roosters” is not what the world needs, as is evident by the surplus of “free rooster” ads that have been circulating in our area for months to no avail. And “more roosters” is certainly not what my barnyard needs- the poor hens are now finally getting a break from the harassment that’s been going on far too long! I usually keep 3 breeding roosters and a few replacements roos in case something like predation happens in the flock. That’s enough roosters!
I also raise ayam cemani crosses. The I have been raising ayam cemani for about 6 years. I’ve never heard it advertised about the breed, but I’ve bred 2 lineages of cemani and each one has produces the opposite of marans; 70-80% females. If not more!
As I have a particular interest in breeding fibro birds with funny colored meat, I love throwing fibromelanosis genes into my meat birds. Why eat a pink chicken, when you can eat blue, black, purple, and green chickens?! As it so happens, most of my fibro-crosses end up being girls, alas. So I don’t get many blue eating birds unless they’re half-marans roosters.
In 2020 we hatched out about 120 chicks. Roughly 20 were cockerels, and all but 2 of those were marans-crosses. This is the usual story each year. Most of my laying hens are now 50% or more cemani as a result! I don’t mind, they’re absolutely beautiful birds, they lay wonderfully, and they’ve been excellent broodies. Which is odd, considering cemani are not known for going broody.
Hope that’s an interesting tidbit! I intended to talk about the snow, but hey, chickens work, too!