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Look what arrived here on Monday.

Those are Jumbo Cornish Rock X chicks, hybrids who are designed to reach their Freezer Camp weight in 7 – 8 weeks. They’re the kind of chicken sitting in packages at most grocery stores.

We ordinarily don’t order chickens from hatcheries, but we have an issue here at Crooked Acres where Fred puts off sending chickens to freezer camp, and then we end up with chicken leg quarters that are so tough they’re on the verge of inedible, even after simmering on the stove for hours. Several years ago we accidentally got a couple of Cornish Rocks with another order, and while they were kind of sad – they grow so fast that after a certain point they do literally nothing but sit there and eat, they don’t run around like normal chickens – they were also, you’ll forgive me, ribbon winners in the Freezer Camp taste-o-lympics.

So it was my idea, this year, to order 25 of them and see how it goes. For now they’re in a brooder in the old coop. In another couple of weeks we’ll move them to the garage, to a bigger brooder, and then a couple of weeks after that, we’ll move them out to the maternity yard. Currently they’re on paper towels, and we’ll put cedar shavings down in a few days when we can be sure they won’t try to eat them.

The first thing you have to do, when you get a box of chicks from the hatchery, is to take them one by one and dip their beaks in water.

It took them all of two minutes to discover the feeder.

And then they huddled together under the heat lamp.

Some of them slept. Some of them gave me the stink eye.

Along with our Cornish Rocks, we got an extra chick, a “rare breed.” They send you the rare breed, but don’t tell you what kind it is, so you have to figure it out on your own.

I named him Arnold.

At this point I think he might be a Cochin.

Here’s a video. If 25 chicks sound like this, can you imagine what hundreds of them must sound like?

YouTube link.

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Bath time for Lilybet.

I sure do love her silly face.

Pregnant? Not pregnant? IT’S A MYSTERY.

The other night, Fred was telling me how Lilybet is clearly NOT pregnant, and then he picked her up and was feeling her belly, and when his hand got near her back legs, he felt a little, round, hard belly, so now he’s allowing that perhaps she is. Who knows?

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Batman on the window shelf, keeping a superhero eye out for trouble, now that he’s well-rested.

Batman on the right, Robin on the left. Sooner or later, they all make their way up to that platform! (Check out the set of black cats who were using it a year ago.)

I had to turn the light on to get a decent picture of these two, and Batman was absolutely fascinated by the ceiling fan. I guess he’d never noticed it before.

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As long as you’re comfy, Newt.

I don’t know what it is about that corner of the counter, but he and Kara and occasionally Stinkerbelle love to hang out there. (I kick them off the counter when I’m cooking. I mean, not that you were invited over for dinner or anything, but I felt the need to reassure you that we’re not complete animals.)


2012: As soon as they hear me wake up and roll over in the morning, though, they’re all crawling on me, purring, and asking for love.
2011: No entry.
2010: No entry.
2009: It’s absolutely stunning what separating a couple of skittish kittens will do to their personality.
2008: And then Joe Bob wasn’t even interested in going outside.
2007: We call him Popeye when he does this.
2006: No entry.
2005: No entry.



2-13-13 — 72 Comments

  1. I love meat, but if I had to raise my food I think I’d be a vegetarian. Those chicks are too cute! I can see the benefits of raising your own animals for future freezer camp…. Knowing that they’ve grown under humane, healthy conditions, price perks, etc. but I’d wind up getting attached.

    BTW… My kitties were VERY interested in the peeping coming from my ipad.

    • Not me. With all that peeping I’d be relieved to send them off to freezer camp.

      …yeah, I like peace and quiet.

    • yeahh I’m TOTALLY wth Marty… I do love chicken but there’s no way I could ever raise it, then send them to freezer camp. I really do hope Arnold will stay – you can’t eat something you’ve named, anyway. I think it’s a kind of a rule.

      • I’m with you as far as eating named animals. Years ago I was in Tennessee for my job and the office manager brought in sausage biscuits for breakfast. When I told her they were the best biscuits ever, she replied “Yeah Suzy was a good ol’ porker.” I almost lost my breakfast – this city girl is not used to having my sausage patties have a name!

        • I love animals, but I do eat meat. I just don’t want to be around when the animal who owned that meat is killed and I don’t think I could send one to freezer camp. BUT I know at Crooked Acres they have a great life as long as it lasts.

          I tried having a discussion with someone here before a meeting about steaming lobsters. I don’t like seafood so I would never do it, but the thought of throwing a live creature in a pot of water and them steaming it to death right there in my kitchen has never appealed to me. I hate seeing the lobsters in those tanks in restaurants and stores. I always think of that scene in Julie/Julia (“lobstah killllllaaaaahhhhh!” LOL)

    • Back in high school we had some experiments with chicks – putting testosterone on their nose or injecting them with it to watch them get little combs and crow faster. At first, everyone was “cute” but then a couple of “crapped on my notebook” incidents and even the girls were competing on who got to use the hypo to inject the little buggers.

      It was amusing to see a yellow chick go ‘cock-a-doodle doo” in a squeaky voice.

  2. Ok…I have to step in and declare that Arnold is NOT allowed to go to freezer-camp! He is officially a PET!!!!

  3. Well DUH, they’re giving you the stink eye. They KNOW!!!! Also, I think I love them, especially your black, feather-legged bonus baby.

  4. I’m with Marty. One of my girls, Anna, went bonkers when she heard the chicks – complete with wide eyes, airplane ears and floofy tail.

    • Julius usually ignores web videos, but he was up hunting for the chicks. Gus was a bit spooked by them. My girl looks for kittens when they are on video

  5. I wouldn’t be able to think about sending them to freezer camp. I understand people who can, but I’d be picking each one up and kissing them to death. And Arnold’s feather leggings are to die for!

  6. that rare breed seems to have pantaloons like rockstar….interesting πŸ™‚

    One of these days you are going to walk in and find Lilybet kittens – that may be the only way the mystery is solved.

    Oh – and I love it when little kitten discover the ceiling fan…..round and round and round and then fall over. probably shouldn’t laugh at it, but it happens with every group

    • Every time I hear her meow or chirp, I go running in there, SURE that she’s given birth. I probably shouldn’t go running in there every time, though. She’s going to figure out the connection and then there’ll be no shutting her up! πŸ™‚

  7. Feather pants! Love it! Forgive my ignorance, but how do you know that Arnold is male? And why do you have to dip their beaks in water? And when is Lilybet going to give up those babies?!? πŸ™‚

  8. I will just be content in the knowledge that those baby chicks are going to be such fun friends for the pigs away at Freezer Camp. (They’re still there right? *wink*) I think the pigs will be so happy!

    P.S. Did you get my emails?

  9. The photo of Newt reminds me of my first cat, Peter, who used to lie on his side in the hallway with his four paws firmly pressed against the wall and fall asleep like that. It was the most hilarious thing I’d ever seen!

  10. I’m not sure I’d be able to do it myself, but I admire your attitude towards the animals you eat! You feed the pigs cookies and treat the chickens well… you give them good lives. So kudos to you and Fred. I also agree that Arnold is cute!

    You might want to try marinading the tough chickens. Yogurt actually breaks down muscle fiber and, you can rinse it off before cooking if you don’t like yogurt. Marinades with vinegar, citrus juice or citric acid will also tenderize meat. It does give the meat a tang, but if you add spices that tang can be really good! I have a ginger/garlic/chili/”lime” paste I got from an Indian grocery which makes a great marinade. I cook the meat with Indian spices and have a great tangy curry! I’m actually allergic to citrus, but this paste has citric acid in it which makes it taste like lime. Yum!

    Just wanted to add that I just bought two of those brooder lamps last night to light my artwork for photographs! Funny how that was my first thought when I saw the chicks in the brooder. They’re ugly but functional… the lamps I mean!

    • She’ll allow it when she’s being held, but not when she’s laying down. He held her so that I could feel for her belly last night. I definitely feel something – but I’m not positive it’s not a food baby. πŸ™‚ Girlfriend’s been eating really well!

  11. I hope Arnold will be hanging around since he’s a rare breed.

    You realize Lilybet could have only one or two kittens while we’re still debating whether she’s pregnant? I’m glad to hear Fred can feel her belly–maybe he will figure it out!

  12. As far as ingredients go, you don’t just have Eye of Newt, you’ve got the whole thing! He looks so casual just hanging around on the countertop.

  13. OK – I don’t know that I could send them off to freezer camp either. BUT – I’m also not a big fan of eating chicken anyway so… AND – it’s not like they’ll still be this cute when they do get sent off. so I don’t think it will be as big a deal possibly by then. I’ve heard from lots of places, that’s part of the reason baby anythings are so cute, so you won’t get as exasperated with how much trouble they can be! πŸ™‚

    Oh Lilybet, my Lilybet. You so pretty and sweet!!!

  14. Love it all! the Lilybet pics are my favorite tho, she is sooo funny/cute/pretty all at the same time. Hope one of the babies looks like her, too. Yes, I refuse to think there won’t be kittens.
    Chicks are definitely more fun when they’re mostly hens for egg production! Grandkids’ chicks are always named and tamed. The hatchery they buy from always includes an exotic or two per batch, it’s neat to see them grow into whatever that breed is.

  15. LOL.. “ribbon winners in the Freezer Camp taste-o-lympics” You sure are a delicate southern flower there aren’t you Robyn!! πŸ™‚

    and of course I’m sitting here thinking.. I bet lilybet would LOVE one of those chicks..

    and i would so come over for dinner.. does that make me an animal??

    I think I’ll have to try separating out skittish kittens next time. I’ve always tried to get them an outgoing friend.. can’t hurt to try something new..

  16. Oh boy! Chicks! They’re adorable! Of course, I can say this because I don’t have to listen to them 24 hours a day or think about how delicious they will be when they go off to freezer camp.. We got a batch of chicks once when I was a teen. We had NO idea how messy they could be and we put them in a half bath that was hardly ever used.. oh my gosh the dust and mess! They were soon moved into the garage, which made it a little quieter.
    The feathery leg guy! Or girl! Is going to be awesome, can’t wait to see that one grow up!
    Is it just me, or does it seem that Lilybet, while not getting round, is getting… plumper? thicker? Something is changing if you look from her arrival pictures to now!
    Newt is counter surfing! Does he just lay there or is he scooting around the counter, pulling himself by the backsplash?

    • He just lays there – it’s his favorite place to sleep in the Winter, and that’s usually where he is during the day. Sometimes all night long, too!

  17. I can say from experience that a large group of baby chicks is enough to make you hard of hearing. The biggest group I ever worked with was 20,000. Enough to make you insane!

    • I think that there are people at the hatchery who know how to sex them, but it’s a mystery to me. You can usually tell by the time they’re 2 or 3 months old, though sometimes it takes even longer!

      • Yeah, it all depends on the type of birds they are. Some modern type birds have feathering genes in them that allow you to separate them by the growth of the primary wing feathers right at hatch. Some breeds have colouring differences that sedate male and female, and I won’t gross you out with the details of how they sex the rest of them!

  18. I’m amazed that the chicks can totter around on those 2 tiny legs and no arms and the wings not quite there yet and not fall face first everytime they move. I sure would!

  19. I’m agree with the others, keep Arnold! He’ll fit in with your others he’s so cute! (And as an “Arnold” I feel like I must speak in defense of another “Arnold!” LOL! :o}

  20. Cheers to the Love and Hisses crowd! No one got snarky and self-righteous about raising chicks for freezer camp! I was afraid there might be a major commentroversy going on when I saw the number of comments, but everyone was respectful. Nice change from the way the Interwebs can get sometimes. πŸ™‚

    • We all have become jaded. Read this blog long enough…well you become aware of reality. πŸ˜‰ ha

  21. I hit play on your video of the chicks and my bird and cats all immediately jumped from their deep sleep and started looking around and Luna my lovebird immediately started chirping back.

  22. The late, lamented Simon would go for months ignoring the ceiling fans, then would suddenly realize they were there, and would sort of duck his head down while looking up at the fan — even if it was off. I’m not sure what sort of trauma-inducing ceiling fan incident he had as a kitten, but it stuck with him!

    Newt is so cute there in his corner. I think I would have to let him stay there while I cooked.