Chickens, Rabbits and Fruit Trees

We have been busy here at the Bossy Hen Homestead. After a household bout with the flu in February we were all eager to get outside and enjoy the unseasonably warm temperatures that have settled in southern New York State.

Our doe had a liter of six healthy rabbits so we went to work building a larger pen for her and her little family. It was a crash course in power tools since I bought a miter saw and a drill this winter. Previously I had been using hand tools that were long past their prime. (That is another very long story!)

The rabbits on our little homestead have been a focal point of late. One of our bucks passed away. We sold another at a local livestock auction. We have decided that we will keep a buck from the new liter. We then purchased a doe from a local farmers market to keep our bloodlines strong. Though our established doe and buck are doing rather well at some point it will be time to let them retire. They have really made me appreciate how lucky we are to have such healthy livestock.

We have weighed the options in regards to raising our own source of animal protein for some time and finally with the help of a local farmer are going to explore rabbits and chickens. It is never an easy decision. I take each life very seriously. I am not interested in getting on my soapbox but after much internal dialogue I felt that this was the healthiest option for my family. We eat meat and I am having a great deal of difficulty with the failing factory farm system.

Obviously our rabbits are already here and in a week or so our broiler chicks will be arriving via our local feed store. We will be getting about a dozen chicks for our initial attempt. If all goes well we will reexamine our effort next year.

Since we are an urban farm with limited space we do not have the option to raise heritage breeds for meat. We just do not have the space to raise additional birds for nearly 5 months, certainly not as long as we have hens for eggs as well. So we went with the Cornish Rock hens. Simply put they will be mature enough for slaughter within two months and it seemed like the most reasonable option given the circumstances. Someday we will explore heritage breeds but I do believe the Cornish Rock will provide us with a good learning experience.

So with that said we are in the process of building a brooder for the chicks and preparing for their arrival.

While all of that is taking place we are also trying to prepare the property for the arrival of two dwarf pear trees and a witch hazel. In order to do so we had to remove a dwarf peach that was simply not producing as well as an old lilac tree. Two out, three in. Seems like a good trade to me.

We also have plans to build a few new raised beds to better utilize an area of our property that historically has grown nothing but jewel weed. It is in a location that receives plenty of sunlight and will not interfere with the children's play space. The goal is to grow peppers and tomatoes in the beds in an effort to increase yield and production.

As you can see we have our work cut out for us but we are excited for our new ventures. We will keep you informed!

Tobias Whitaker blogs for Mother Earth News and Grit Magazine. Click on the Mother Earth News logo at the bottom of the page for all of his post. You can also find him on Facebook at Seed To Harvest: Bossy Hen Homestead which is a central location for his homesteading blogs and his homeschooling blog, A Mile In Her Shoes: Tales Of A Stay-At Home Dad found here


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