We are in mourning this morning, for the loss of “mother hen” a beautiful Australorp hen who had been allowed to “go broody” sit on her eggs long enough to hatch them, and who has reared the chicks (eight of them) for about two months, by herself. Last night she has guarding her chicks, defending them against a predator attack, and she lost her life. All of her chicks lived. During the night, we were awoken to the terrible and recognizable sounds of a chicken losing its life — the terrible cries will awaken anyone who has heard them before. Myles sprang out of bed and pulled on some pants, and tore off towards the bardyard. As the outdoor overhead light came on, he caught sight of a large four footed predator running out of the illuminated area – headed for the swampy area across the road. He listened and heard four distinct pounding paws. We believe that the killer was a fox — large and less stealthy, and louder than a cat-based murderer. The baby chicks scattered as their mom fought — and they all lived through the night. So far this morning, we have caught all but one of them, and placed them safely behind wire in a pen.
Night before last, we discovered a very puzzling and sad turkey death — a turkey hen was slightly tipped over, head through a gap in a doorway, and dead. We were hopeful that her demise was natural, and painless — maybe a heart attack, or stroke, or something like that. After the chicken death last night, I have to assume that Turkey Hen died at the mouth of a predator. We are very troubled by the loss of life on the farm, and have taken steps to avoid more tragic losses in the short-term. Unfortunately, for the short-term, that means that our turkeys who are nearing Thanksgiving – rediness are inside for a while, so that we can determine the species of the predator, and take action to stop the nightly free dinners…if you know what I mean.
On the non-bird front, the Jersey cows are milking some fabulous, creamy and delicious milk that we are enjoying daily. The extra milk is being appreciated by our newest arrivals, the heritage breed cross piglets, and the Gloucestershire Old Spots pigs. The Belted Galloways are rotating through the pastures, grazing and chewing their cud — doing what cows do most of the day, only doing it on grass exclusively.
Last week, we dined on a dinner that was one of the best that I have eaten anywhere — and, not because they are ours, but because they really were so good, I was especially proud to eat the Center Cut Loin Chops from the Tamworth pigs, that we raised here on our farm. (Chops are available at the farmers market Tuesday and Thursdays from 4-7, Thursdays – today – in Northfield, and Tuesdays in Bernardston. I will be at the markets through the last week of September) We ate a green salad with locally raised fresh greens with balsamic dressing from Appalachian Naturals (my favorite dressing!) based in Goshen, MA. Then came my warm Ciabatta topped with Gorgonzola, Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil. The Tamworth Pork Chops were simply thawed and then grilled on a propane Weber grill, and rubbed with a spice concoction of: coarse flake salt, paprika, black pepper, thyme, rosemary, garlic and chipotle. There were ears of local sweet corn, and for dessert, I made a whole cranberry ginger bar (with a cakelike consistency) that was still warm, so I topped it with whipped cream.
If you are drooling, than you understand what I just attempted to describe. It was indescribable. Really, really good. If you want any recipes, I can send them along. If you want our pork chops, they are packaged as one per package — so that you can thaw exactly as many as you want, and they are quick, quick to thaw. Call, or stop by the Market in Northfield today. See you!
One exciting development this morning – a bucketful of chicks were just harvested in the barn this morning. So we added two hens worth of chicks to the surviving eight from Hen last night.