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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Five-Year Plan

Tuesday was Rooster Heaven day. Six of them went to that big hen house in the sky. Since they were older birds we didn't bother plucking them. We just skinned them out and processed them.

I think they knew their number was up. One of them tried to make a break for it while our backs were turned. Unfortunately, he made the mistake of returning to the chicken yard where he was quickly apprehended.

Such is the life of a senior rooster. The hens fare much better. A lot of homesteaders butcher their hens after their second year, but ours were such good layers, I saw no reason not to keep them. They already know the routine and I enjoy their company. --the roosters, not so much.

We'll be phasing out the black Australorp. They're great chickens and prolific layers, but they're too light for meat birds and we need birds to serve double duty. I recommend them if you're looking for lots of eggs though. They lay more than twice what the buff Orpingtons can produce.

The Americaunas have great personalities and are nice, practical birds. They're very inquisitive and self-sufficient. If they see there's no more feed being handed out, they'll go out in the woods and fend for themselves. When it's time to come in, they're the first ones back in the hen house.

The buff Orpingtons are the heaviest birds and the poorest layers, but they're such good-natured rascals. They don't hesitate to follow me into the feed room to see if I dropped anything. Of the three breeds they're also the brightest. If there's a way to steal a few extra kernels of corn, they'll find it.

We're making headway on the 'goat pen from hell'. It's almost done. But we still need to build a house for them. Since Greg's time here is limited, it looks like the goats will have to wait until next spring. I'd rather not over-winter young goats, especially since we're still new to goat raising.

My other wish is to raise a hog for meat. We've raised them in the past and the taste is incredible. Once you've had farm-raised pork, nothing else can compare.

We've had so many problems getting the goat pen done I figured I'd wait a while before I spring the idea of raising a pig to Greg. And I haven't even mentioned the fish pond yet. :grin: I don't want to stress him out before his time.

It's all part of my five year plan, which includes

• goats
• chickens
• fish
• pig
• extend the garden
• pipe water to animals and secondary garden
• invest in solar and/or wind power

• and oh, yes...write more books.

What's on your five-year plan?

Note: Don't give up on me followers and fellow campaigners. I should be caught up by Thursday so I can pay you all a visit.


Ellie Garratt said...

Can I come visit in five years? It sounds like animal bliss.

My five year plan is to have had at least two books published, and working full time as a writer.

Maria Zannini said...

You are welcome any time, Ellie.

And I think you'll easily get two books published in that time.

Jennifer Shirk said...

5 year plan? I'm still looking for a 5 month plan. LOL

Darke Conteur said...

I don't know how you do it, Maria. I could never raise, then kill my livestock. I'm not dumb I know where meat comes from, I just don't have the stomach to kill my food.

My five year plan? To move back into the city. I like it out here, but Sithboy spends an hour on the bus to get to school, and come highschool, even longer. That just doesn't seem fair to me.

Maria Zannini said...

Jennifer: Welcome back! I find the older I get, the shorter my plans get. :) But I've always been a long-range planner.

Darke: It's not pleasant work, but it's the circle of life. If you eat meat, an animal somewhere has to die.

Ref: move
I don't blame you. I despise long commutes.

Misha said...

Hahaha I don't do five year plans any more. Used to, and it just ended up with me sticking with something way past the point I should have let go.


Isis Rushdan said...

Plans are good. My five year plan is to have 3-4 books published on shelves or at least with release dates. Also, by then I hope to have fantastic network of friends (who are writers on the same journey).

Now I'm craving pork. Something succulent and farm-raised. Oye.

LD Masterson said...

We're supposed to have plans?

Um...get published and enjoy my grandkids before they grow up and leave home (which the oldest two will be doing in about five years - whaaaaa)

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

AHH! I want to LIVE with you!
I literally had a conversation yesterday with my sister about how i really like americaunas and want some when we get space for chickens. I also spoke about getting a pig, but we're kind of anti pig because they're just so damn smart and therefore infuriating and sometimes scary.
My five year plan actually involves not making plans for the next five years. For reals, i actually said that to myself a few months ago. Once i hit 35 is when i'm going to see how i can change up my life some

Mike Keyton said...

Since they were older we didn't bother plucking them. We just skinned them out and processed them.

I think they knew their number was up. One of them tried to make a break for it while our backs were turned. Unfortunately, he made the mistake of returning to the chicken yard where he was quickly apprehended.

Such is the life of a senior .
I read this quickly and my blood chilled.

Maria Zannini said...

Misha: I am a notorious planner. Now I do it more to keep me organized than for fun though.

Isis: I wish I could describe the taste better. It's the difference between veal and 3-day old hotdogs.

Linda: You can't stop time for grandkids. It's important to enjoy them while you can.

Sarah: I really love the Americaunas. They've got so much personality and are a hoot to watch.

Mike: I don't know why, but your name popped into my head when I wrote that line. --sorry. :)

Mike Keyton said...

I suspected as much. Rethinking Texas :)

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: We give special dispensation to 'old roosters' who are friends of the family. Texas is still safe. :)

jackie b central texas said...

I have to admit to having a bit of a laugh reading about the inquisitiveness and the ingenuity of Chickens Maria, most people would not understand what you mean but having grown up with them running loose and making pets here and there of a few I totally get what you are saying. My little furry friends at times rivaled the smarts displayed by our dog of the moment, say that because as a child it seemed like our dogs did not live very long for one reason or another.

I like your 5 year plan, glad it's yours not mine as you are looking at a lot of prep work and ongoing labor to make it a reality!

Kerri Cuev said...

I'm going to love your posts *grins* Thanks for the chicken info. My hubby wanted buffs and I ended up getting Americaunas. Problem is I think they are all roosters...not a happy camper. We had barred rocks for a while and they were docile and not a bad dual purpose bird.

Right now we have a small flock of silkies and I keep saying I need to write a PB about them!

Krista D. Ball said...

I have a two year plan. Well, it's more like a 19 month plan, but that's close enough :P

I have a few contracts to fulfill, so I'm booked until early 2013. I keep making statements like "when I'm all done, I wonder what I'll do..." Only, just as I'm finishing up one project, I seem to be immediately signing up for a new one. Need to stop that!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you're going off grid, LOL. It also sounds wonderful. I miss rural living!

Maria Zannini said...

Jackie: As long as I am able, I'd like to be able to raise my own food. When I compare what I raise to what I get in the store, it's no contest.

Kerri: I wish we lived closer! I'm not sure but it looks like our last batch of Americauna chicks are primarily female. So far I am only seeing rooster tails on a few. I hope you will write about your animals. I love to hear how other people live.

Krista: Many people would envy that kind of problem. :) I hope you get many more contracts.

Raelyn: We'll never be completely off the grid, (it'd be too impractical for us) but I'd like to be able to reduce our human footprint on the environment, and hopefully live a healthier lifestyle.

Dru said...

If I have all my ducks in a row, I could retire.

Renee Miller said...

A five year plan? No. I used to do that, but after watching a few of my self-imposed deadlines speed past me, I modified my thinking. It depressed me too much when I didn't do what I planned. I'm weird that way. Worse when someone else messes up my plans.

I try to think in the short-term only. "I will do this and this by the end of the year." Yes, I did have a plan for this year. And for the first time ever, I think I might complete what I set out to do. The Companion will be published and there are bigger and better things planned soon after. Since it's taken so long to accomplish just that single book, I don't want to push my luck giving a deadline to the rest.

Oh, and the ongoing goal for seven years has been that Kennedy will sleep by herself. All night. I will sleep a full 6 hours without interruption as well. So far...that goal hasn't been met. Sigh.

Jenny Schwartz said...

I love your five year plan, Maria. Fish/aquaponics sounds fascinating.

Me, I'm a recovering control trying not to have a five year plan :)

Angela Brown said...

Five year plan? Hmmmm...I'm still in recovery from the last five year plan I made. I'm just hoping to have completed "There-is-no-fool-proof-plan" rehab during the next five years, unless I relapse.

Jan Morrison said...

Hi - found you on the plan - I put my writing blog on the link but from my site you can link over to Living the Complicated Simple Life - which is about chickens and knitting and gardening and stuff! We're just in the process of culling our roosters. We don't like it at all. We say we're sending them to Kenmore Kamp but hey - we know what we're really doing. I found a home for one with a spare hen and if things go right, the other three will be given to someone who sells free-range chickens - he can have them - we like them to much to eat them! Arggh. We're keeping a black australorp rooster for our flock of six hens. We have (if nothing changes in the gender dept...) a black australorp gal, a golden-laced wyandotte, two silvers, and two rhode island reds. We love the australorps - we had one go broody a couple of flocks ago and raise us up some nice birds.
Now back to writing...

Heather said...

WOW! I thought your post was an excerpt from a novel you are writing set in the Pioneer Era...but it's your daily life, right? Holy cow, it sounds so foreign to me sitting here in my condo near the beach in sunny Southern California...foreign but super cool! I think I might be jealous...quieter, more peaceful, living among the earth with her seasons and rhythms...hmmmm...this fellow Campaigner has new dreams for tonight!

Maria Zannini said...

Dru: I hope your five-year plan comes true.

Renee: I don't get too bent out of shape if something doesn't come to fruition. Chances are something better came along. (I hope)

Jenny: The older I get the shorter my time limits get. This might be my last 5 year stint.

Angela: Oh, lord. Nothing is fool-proof. I'm proof of that. LOL.

Jan: Hi, Jan. Nice to meet you. I will definitely be by before the weekend.

Heather: LOL! Yes, it's all real life here. We're city kids who got the homesteading bug and now we're living the dream. Thanks for stopping by. I'll be visiting soon.

Anonymous said...

I would love chickens and goats, and even a pig! But we have a tiny yard and I'm struggling for a decent garden. Have a small raised bed and will be adding another small one for next year. Hope to keep finding space. This year I trellised the cucumbers, I think everything should grow up! And I'm a little behind on the campaign hellos too, so HELOOO!

Linda Gray said...

Hi Maria, just dropping by to say hello as a fellow Campaigner (adult fiction group). Nice to meet you!

Elana Johnson said...

I'm glad there are people in the world who love animals. Sadly, I am not one of them--but I'm glad you are!

And I'm in your dystopian campaign group. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Jessica: Hiya! I'm slowly making my rounds myself.

Linda: Glad you could pop in. It's a little overwhelming, but I'm determined to visit everyone by the weekend.

Elana: My roosters probably don't think I was very nice. But I get your drift. :)

Enid Wilson said...

You are very full on! I prefer one year plan, 2 books a year and 2 holidays a year.

Every Savage Can Reproduce

Nadja Notariani said...

Hi Maria!

I'm stopping by via Raelyn's blog link. I, too, have chickens, so my interest was excited at once. Ha! My 'girls' have been laying two summers now. I've read that they usually lay about three-to-three-and-a-half years. I'm thinking of adding a separate (but connected by a door) area to our coop and starting some new chicks in the spring so as not to have laying interrupted. (I live in a city, so I have no roosters)

Love that you are an author, too! I honestly didn't think to meet another fellow author who keeps chickens...too funny! Have a great weekend. ~ Nadja

Maria Zannini said...

Enid: I'd ask for more holidays, but for some reason I work harder on them than regular work days.

Nadja: Nice to meet you--especially another chicken raiser/author. We ought to start a club. LOL.

We separated our coop like that so we could raise pure-breed chickens. We only separate them in the spring when we want to sell chicks though. The rest of the time they're free to roam the woods.

I'm so glad you stopped by. My computer has been giving me problems all weekend. Maybe now I can catch up on mail and comments.