Don’t worry, your eyes aren’t failing you. If you’re reading this in the month of December, WordPress does this cute/annoying ‘falling snow’ thing. Anyway.
For the past several weeks, we haven’t been getting any eggs out of my laying flock of hens. With one egg-ception (sorry). We do get one monster egg a day out of my Sex-Link hen, and that’s it. When the days grow shorter (and today is THE shortest day of the year), chickens slow or cease to lay. But there was something else nagging me. Usually I would at least have 3 or 4 eggs a day, despite the daylength. Suddenly, it dawned on me. My hens are OLD. At least by hen standards. The youngest hens I have are going on two years old. I did not replace any layers this spring, as I normally do, just because I…forgot!
So now for the big question: What to do with the old hens? Unfortunately for the hens, the answer is The Stewpot in the Sky. All I can say is that we’re gonna be eating a LOT of chicken around here. A stew hen is not a roasting bird. Her meat will be tougher than a ‘roaster’, and it must be cooked slow and low to make it good and tender. The resulting meat can be used for things like empanadas, enchiladas, soups, stews, whathaveyou. So, likely starting this week, we’ll be picking out who will be first to go.
Of couse, we have some hens which I just can’t stew. Like Doris, my old rescued Barred Rock. We rescued Doris, Lily, Gladys, our 2 geese, and an unnamed White Rock from absolutely deplorable conditions. It was so bad that Jason and I dry-retched quite a few times while we were on the woman’s property. This was in 2009, meaning that Doris is anywhere from 4 to 5 years old this year, since she was already mature at the time. Gladys, Lily, the Rock, and the geese were all young birds, putting them at 3 years old this year. Anyway, Doris runs up to your pants and pecks them. She has done this since we got her (and her sister did, too) and I can tell her voice from all the other Barred Rocks.
Now it’s time to get serious and decide on the breed I want to keep around for my laying flock, so I don’t have to order from a hatchery anymore. I’ve been hatching out Silkie/Showgirls since November, and this makes so much more sense! I’m able to pick and choose exactly what I want to keep in the flock, plus I get to play with lots of baby chicks.