Tales from the Poultry Front

in Homesteading2 years ago

We've had a bit of construction work happening in the garden. Our poultry enclosures have been in need of repairs and I finally managed to convince hubby that it would be easier to repair them if we stepped them in from the main garden fence, giving space around them for maintenance. I discovered after they were originally constructed that council regulations say we are actually supposed to have any poultry runs 1 metre away from property boundary fences, in case repairs need to be made to said fencing. Oops. Well that's now being remedied, anyway.

We started on the quail run, so the first step was to move the chickens from the neighbouring run over to their second run, mesh up the hen house gate to keep explorer quails out (not that the chickens care when they find a gap into their run), then move the quails and pigeons into the run they vacated. The pigeons aren't tame, so the easiest way to move them was to open up the mesh and herd them through. It didn't take them long to settle into their new home at all, so it seems there was no trauma experienced. The quails quickly got down to finding little spaces to lay and the pigeons were building nests in no time as well. All eggs got collected, because it was only a temporary move.


My dad came in to give my husband a hand and they quickly got to work seeing what could be salvaged and what was beyond repair. Some of the wood had weathered better than other bits and some of the mesh that was touching the ground was rusted through, but we didn't have too much waste in the end.

deconstruction starts with sagging beams and mesh to be removed. Some of the beams were salvaged by turning them upside down, so the weight will bring them back in line.


The new support posts go in.

The mesh goes back on over the frame. Some of the original gets to stay, but some new is needed as well to replace where the boundary fence was. Yes, that's a quail egg you might be able to see on the floor there, because once they were moved back in they did a full security test and some found an escape hole where the planters stopped my builders from getting easy access to finish the corner with the thicker base fencing.

20220105_133729.jpgA temporary fix was put in place until I could empty and move the planters, then my husband and father could dig and run the base section in. This is a thicker wire than the rest and is partially buried to hopefully prevent foxes from digging or chewing through. No guarantees with a determined enough fox, but these measures have managed to keep one fox out previously.

I'm thinking that I can probably put something up at the ends of the new path going around the runs and let the rabbits run loose in that area when weeds start to grow. It would give them space to run that they don't get at the moment.

While they were doing the work on the run, my husband kept complaining about the noise from the cock quails, who'd set each other off in a crowing competition. I'd already removed three that had wonky hips, so I selected three more of the loudest ones to go. Unfortunately, the complaints continued, so when the run was ready I transferred and counted the hens, who were looking worse for wear from the attentions of the males; bald necks on most and some bald backs too. There were 16 in total, and the ratio is usually 1 cock to 4 or 5 hens. At this point I realised just how many males we still had left! No wonder the poor hens were so stressed and messy! I sat and listened to the boys for a bit and ended up selecting 5 of the quieter ones to go back in with the girls. One was an old male, who likely is too old to harass them anyway. The girls seem much happier now and are growing those feathers back already.

I'd planned to sort out the male quails and some of the ever breeding pigeons that day and when I put the chicken rooster out for the day he immediately started challenging me again, even before eating. This had been an ongoing problem, so as I was already prepared in my mind for the tough job of harvesting poultry that day and had been thinking for some time that I would probably have to call it a day with him, I asked my husband to do the deed and I started the day prepping a chicken instead of quail. This meant that I then only got through the male quail and didn't end up getting to the pigeons. So now I'm procrastinating and making excuses to delay processing them.

As it turns out, it wasn't a bad thing, because I've discovered that our original pair don't seem to be fertilising their eggs properly at the moment, so I've selected some of the others to go back with them and have 7 left to sort out. Some of them were still a bit young, as well, so it doesn't hurt to let them develop a bit more.

Since moving the quail back over, one of the older hens has died, so it's probably a good time to hatch. My friend, the @ligayagardener, would like to add some quail to his set up as well, so that was all the encouragement I needed. I now have an incubator full of quail eggs, so fingers crossed for lots of little buttons running around in three weeks.


Out of respect for life and the nourishment that death goes on to provide to other life, I won't let anything just get thrown away to go to landfill. The rooster was no spring chicken, so his meat would have been tough if not prepared right. The last time I had to get rid of an old rooster I ended up just doing stock, but I wanted to make better use of the meat this time. A bit of searching and previous experience led me to taking a different approach.

Firstly I discovered that the chicken should be rested in the fridge for a couple or 3 days to allow the meat to start relaxing. It needs to be covered, but also to breathe a little so one should avoid sealing it in something like clingfilm. Then it was into a large pot, with salt and pepper and any other flavourings wanted. The blog I was referencing suggested vegetables, but then seemed to discard the vegetables, which probably would have been mush after hours of cooking. So I just stuck with the salt and pepper. After a few hours, the meat was so soft I couldn't get the chicken out of the pan whole, it just fell apart.

Our first meal from the chicken was Chinese style chicken and sweetcorn soup. We have plenty of eggs, so it just made sense. It's a favourite of everyone's too.

Over the next few days we had Mexican style chicken wraps, chicken pizza and there was so much soup from the first day that the leftovers got frozen for another meal at a later time. So we got three meals and a starter from that one chicken. The bones and organs also went on to become stock and a base for some more meals.


Attempting to brighten up my terrible food photography. I may have to move it to the outside lighting, because this camera likes the indoor lighting even less than my last one. As you can see, my collages are made with Canva, just in case you were wondering 😉.


You can also find The Miniature Smallholding on:



Your pigeons don't bother trying to fly off?

Upgraded bird run looks impressive :D

The run is fully enclosed, so they can't, but I've been told by a few people that they always come back to the roost. Probably not always, because one of our pigeons arrived here as a lost soul.

Never thought of doing some research about the topic: how to boil/prepare chicken for best results, tho my mom makes it the best! Me....ughh, 70% :))
I grew up with chickens myself, mostly for meat and eggs. I wasnt involved in petting them or something, I am still afraid of them: .

I didnt know that we should let the chicken in the fridge to rest (up to 3days) if we want the best we can get from it. Do you know if it's the same with frozen ones? :-?? (maybe you've read this too)

My mom still have chicks, around 30. And she continues to give us to cook them. I've never had soup/stock from bought chicken...ever in 30 years. :)) and I'm not going to change this:D So I might look it this myself:d especially now that I have an instant pot ultra. It's much easier than cooking soup on the stove.

With most chicken it shouldn't matter about resting it, because they are still young, so the meat is tender. I only did this extra step because it was an older chicken. Usually we prepare the roosters when they are much younger, then we can cook them in the usual way.

I see. Well, it happens sometimes to have older chickens:) so I must take a look into that.

Looks like a nice upgrade and now there's space for the rabbits to run around too!

I only just spotted the link to the MSH youtube a/c and it was great to get a tour of the property. I can imagine the layout much better now and see how you have birds and food/medicinal plants nicely mixed up in the back.

When we emerge from winter (dry and mild so far but Feb is usually cold) I'm wanting to get some veg going. Have only grown tatties so far lol.

Talking of taties, I have some that need digging up...

You must have a short growing season in Scotland. Do you know which veggies do best in that? Hopefully we'll get an update from you. When you start.

I haven't done an update video for a while, it would be good to do that. I'm winding if there is a way to get my videos from YouTube onto 3speak, as I no longer have them saved. Plagiarisers seem to be able to do it, so I figure there must be some way.

Well I'm going to start growing some shoots in the window soon, just need to decide what seeds I'm going to get! March - October seems pretty ok in Scotland for growing. I'm in the process of making a raised veg bed in the back garden for the tatties and want things like carrots, spinach, cabbage, kale, beetroot in the front where the tatties were last year. Also some more herbs, esp. coriander. I'll also grow tatties in bags and boxes. In the summer there are plenty of apples in various parks around town to be harvested as well as all the different berries in the woods and fields. I'd love to have a South-facing greenhouse - might try to make one in the front garden next year if landlord is up for it.

I've also got aloe vera growing outside he he.

Re. the youtube vids, there are plenty of apps/programs out there that will let you d/l videos from YT. I use one called 'Free YouTube Download'
It does have a paid/premiere version which allows for faster downloads but if you're only wanting a few vids and don't mind slow speeds, the free version should be fine.

Well I'm going to start growing some shoots in the window soon

Oooh, like beansprouts or micro greens?

The coriander doesn't like the heat here and bolts so quickly. I can imagine it will do well there.

In the summer there are plenty of apples in various parks around town to be harvested

I miss scrumping! Do you call it that in Scotland? There are always apples, blackberries or sweet chestnuts somewhere to be harvested. A lot of the places we used to go as children got built on, but where we lived in England before we emigrated, there were blackberries across the road and the kids loved collecting them in autumn.

Thank you for the link. I'm in no rush, so that should be perfect.

I would like to grow some bean sprouts too but I meant getting the plants for outside ready by growing the shoots in the window first coz Feb will be too cold and early :). I really want coriander - in Portugal there was so much we'd get bunches of it fresh whenever reqd.

Ah scrumping.....! Not heard that used, but then, not seen that many folk scrumping for apples and stuff. Scrumping wasn't something I did in my childhood in India. Blackberries ARE a fav. though and I have seen plenty of folk scrumping in the autumn.

Did they not have plants for foraging in India? I could imagine tropical fruits growing wild there.

He he, for sure...I do remember seeing berries at school (which was in the mountains) but life was otherwise in urbansprawl Delhi. We had a custard-apple tree and a guava tree at home which sometimes fruited, and two big mangoes which never did when I was a kid, but funnily enough started up just two years ago!

I also have a great memory of being taken to a lychee orchard once.

I'm kinda late getting my act together in terms of interest in own/wild grown foods. I recently saw on The CorbettReport that it's possible to eat a pine tree!

Busy poultry day at your place. Our old birds are ground up for ground chicken. We use a lot of that! The carcasses are made into bone stock and frozen. Putting in the vegs adds a nice dimension to the stock. I tend o cook my bone stock for as close to 12 hours as I can, and the resulting solids do not have much flavor. I clean the bones out and fed the remains to the pigs.

We don't really do them on a big enough scale to warrant getting a mincer, but that's an option for tough meat I've not come across before. We go through a lot of lamb mince, as well.

At this time of year we use the pressure cooker for stock, so they don't need more than a few hours. In winter we can put the cast iron pot on the woodburner for the day.

Do you use vinegar in the stock to leach out the minerals, etc? If you used the cast iron, the vinegar probably would not be good for it.

I haven't heard of that before, so no. By the time I'm done the bones are pretty much crumbling, so I figured I'd got the best from them. Yes, probably not a good idea with the cast iron.

That’s quite the bird run! Do you use pigeons for meat? I guess that’s not a bad idea but for us pigeons are a nuisance more than they are a food source lol

I’m hoping one day to get to having something like this! It would be really cool to have chickens for eggs and harvesting our own meat. Lots to learn, with killing them being one of the things but I think it would be something I could do eventually.

Will you be harvesting the male quail since it sounds like they outnumber the females a lot now?

We never planned on having pigeons. Strangely it started with someone at my husband's work who bred them bringing him a box of his culls. Normally he'd just kill them and bin them and I think hubby must have asked why the waste when he could eat them. The box turned out to be live birds (he thought they'd be dead) and my daughter got fond of one so asked if we could keep her. I relented and she got to live in the quail run. No issues until a white, crested pigeon with a blank tag land in the garden exhausted and we nurse it back to health, but couldn't find its owner. It's a male and hubby and daughter tell me to let them sit on the eggs and see what happens. What happens is lots more pigeons, of course, but it's actually a bit easier than incubating and raising quails, so meat birds they became.

Yes, I harvested the excess male quail and just kept a few for breeding. I usually only hatch a replacement batch once a year, so I don't do it large scale.

I didn't know you had quails and pigeons. Also, how much land do you have? A few things I didn't realise! Including you needed a boundary there. Looks good with one and yes some space for the rabbits to explore.

I just gave away two roosters. As much as I've read about it on HIVE and steeled myself to do it, I just couldn't manage. At all. Jamie suggests I'd find the courage if I was starving. Until then, I'm not eating chicken. If I can't kill it and eat it myself I don't deserve it - I'm part of the problem. I offered them on Facebook and my offer was taken up by a lovely Nepali guy. He was going to have chicken soup anyway.

Hm. Can I make chicken and corn soup sans chicken? I'm going to give it a go. I have a craving now!

Will that be just sweetcorn soup? 🤔😆

I struggle with killing the chickens due to their size, so I usually get hubby to do that. The quail and pigeon are much easier physically, but mentally it's never easy.

The house and land is on 750 square metres. Not quite a quarter acre, but not tiny. I still struggle to keep on top of it, so probably don't need much more.

I long for a quarter acre block, surrounded by 100 acres... :P

Oh yes, corn soup, what a dimwit :P

Here's something to crow about! Your post has been upvoted and now is in our poultry collection https://peakd.com/ccc/methodofmad/a-collection-of-poultry-chickens-ducks-quail-turkeys-and-more

Thank you. That's a good idea to do collections on topics like that. I'll have to work out how to do that.

I am working on a how-to post. I will tag you when I put up the post. It's pretty easy. For this curation, I plan to do it on annual basis. So all the Hive chickens for 2022 will be in one curation, and a few ducks, peacocks, quail etc. I enjoy following you. Keep up the good work!

Thanks, I appreciate that. Look forward to reading it.

Looking forward to have bird and rear dem to multiple more.. tnx for sharing ur experience with the community

Do you know what sort of birds you'd like?

A few months ago I watched your YouTube channel about pets such as chickens and quail, here I can see your work again, I am very interested in your work, have several advantages and raise broilers, I really enjoy your work.

I mostly raise for eggs, as I don't enjoy killing them for meat, so I don't think I could raise just as broilers.

We don't aim to kill, we deliberately raise chickens for laying and broilers.

If there was ever a Mad Max apocalypse Yuan and I would probably be hunting pigeons for him to eat, as they are prevalent in the city, lol, but I genuinely hadn't heard of people raising them for meat before! Can you eat their eggs as well?

You certainly can. The white is slightly translucent when cooked, but they taste like any eggs (they say different bird eggs taste different, but they all taste the same to me. Maybe because they all get the same feed 🤔). They used to have dovecotes for that very purpose, many years ago.

I had always thought those were for messenger pigeons. Learn something new every day!

Oh! Speaking of different flavors, there is a brand of (chicken) eggs here that sells a "heritage breed" variety, which are VERY different than "regular" eggs. The yolks are orange and they have a lot more flavor. I don't know if that's the breed or their feed or what, but I did notice a difference in those when I tried them (they're hella expensive; I got them for free for writing a review once, lol).

I'm often told my chickens' eggs have darker yolks and better flavour. I think it is more to do with what they're eating than anything, although yolk colour can vary a bit between birds and breeds. Most intensively raised chickens eat the cheapest feed they can get even if they are "free ranged", so I think that has a difference on the egg quality. If they don't get the nutrients, they can't put them into the eggs.

There seems to be some argument as to what food gives the darker yolks, some say bugs from free ranging, some say greens from free ranging, but there is still a difference between birds, even if they are all eating the same.

I'm probably spoilt. I've had my own chickens' eggs for so long I don't know the difference any more.

I have gotten to the point where I can't eat the generic, cheap eggs anymore because they just taste nasty. The free ranged ones are what I usually get.

So many birds! Makes me thankful for having just four and excited to have more! 🤠

Just watch out! We started with four and now look where we are! The addiction and chicken math is real...

Sounds like it! I am going as slow as I can with it to avoid getting overwhelmed.

Even my four need their space and whoa it gets to where making them a large dedicated area seems like the thing to do.

Congratulations, on your natural lifestyle. We’ve had a few chickens in the past (along with peacocks) but nothing on the scale you have.

Quail I’ve used as a turkey substitute during Thanksgiving, but don’t know much about.

Currently, my wife and I are attempting something of the self-sufficiency you demonstrate by living on a farm for a couple of months or so.

If you’re interested, I’ve been posting about our developments over past two weeks.

Wishing you much (more) success enjoying the fruits of your labor 🙏🏽✨


Sounds like an amazing experience. I hope you learn a lot from your time on the farm.

Thanks, for your kind words 🙏🏽 I’m learning to simplify my life and enrich it at the same time…

Here’s a peek into my diary: https://ecency.com/hive-114308/@yahialababidi/the-spirituality-of-farm-life

Blessings ✨