We just sold the last of our fresh chickens, until October. We will not offer fresh chicken again until the weather cools a bit.
You can still get our fresh eggs every day of the summer, and our vegetable gardens are still going strong. We are simply giving our broilers a break, for their own good, during this hottest part of the year.
Little Yellow Puff Balls
Our day-old chicks are sent to us from the hatchery through the U.S. Post Office. It is really wonderful to go down and pick them up, a slatted cardboard box full of chirping yellow puff balls. As a favor, the folks at the post office call me at 5:30 in the morning when the chicks arrive, so I can get them right away.
We take the chicks home and place them gently in the brooder, and they eat and drink their fill, and then go to sleep under the heat lamp. When a little person is around, we sing them happy birthday.
For most of the year, the chicks survive the two-day trip through the post office very well. The challenge is surviving the trip during the heat of a South Texas summer. In July and August, it is just too hot for them, and very often the chicks die from the triple-digit heat on the loading docks between the hatchery and our post office.
I don’t care how grizzled an old farmer you are, it is heartbreaking to go to the post office and open a box full of dead chicks. It’s almost worse when ten or fifteen chicks somehow survive among all the rest, and you put them in the brooder and do everything you can to save them, and still they die one at a time over the next week, because they were stressed so badly during travel.
The Reverse of a Northern Winter
We have done everything we can to work with the hatchery and post office to solve this problem. However, the underlying problem is the South Texas heat. It is a killing fact of life, not just for chicks at the post office, but for every form of life on our farm.
In the far north, the reverse problem happens during winter, when the cold kills the chicks on the loading docks. Up north, most hatcheries actually shut down for the winter, and heritage farmers don’t even try to keep broilers during the freezing weather. We are doing the same for the next few weeks, giving the chickens a break, a little vacation, until the Fall.