ISA Brown Chicks

At about Two to Three Weeks Old

I went to my local chicken purveyor with the intent of buying four Rhode Island Red chicks to add to my flock. They had a grand total of one Rhode Island Red chick. Therefore, I went with a descendant of theirs, the hybrid ISA Brown. Et Mon Dieu, the chicken turned out to have been developed in la belle France.

Technically, all chickens are hybrids anyway, though many breeds have been established for many years, and one generation looks much like the previous one. Apparently that is not true with these birds, though that could easily be just Monsanto like agit-prop disseminated by the company that owns the patent on this bird. Considering that it has been around since 1978, someone has obviously bred some of these fowl, and it would be interesting to find some stories based on first hand experience.

At any rate, the story began in 1975 with the French Ministry of Agriculture, the head of which was determined to produce a first rate bird for commercial Big Chicken. The project was headed by the firm Institut de Sélection Animale, which is where the name ISA comes from. Three years later, these birds were the result, a hybrid of many varieties, though which ones are considered a trade secret; but the most notable one is the Rhode Island Red.

As a bird designed for Big Chicken, these chicks mature quickly and lay eggs at a fast and furious rate. They are variously said to be short lived, or disease prone, but it is hard to believe that Big Chicken would fall in love with a sickly bird: disposable, yes, but sickly, no. A few small owners say they can live as long as eight years, if given proper care, instead of stuck in a battery cage. As it turns out, this variety has become a favorite with backyard chicken growers, though my chickens are actually in my front yard.

One of the best things about this bird is that it is a sex-link chicken, which means the sexes are different colors. Therefore, if the chick is brown, it is a hen; if it is white, it is a rooster. Thus, these four are definitely hens.

After a week here, they are already flying around the brooder, though there isn’t much runway space in that plastic container. I still put a lid on the insulated contraption to keep them from flying around our basement, or getting burned by the heat lamp.

The Heat is On

I have already found them on the top perch, or just cold chilling, sitting on top of the water or feed jars. This morning all four were practicing flying at the same time, which resulted in some spectacular crashes.

Chances are good that my in-laws are in line for some free eggs, as we already regularly have three dozen sitting around our kitchen. Eggs, that is, not in-laws.

Chickurkey a la King with Morels

Chickurkeys are not Easy to Capture

What we have here is a dairy-less Chicken a la King with turkey added, and fancied up with morels. I am carefully rationing my years supply of morels, because they are renewed yearly only on December 24. This seemed like a good time to use a few.

Ingredients

3 dried Morels, reconstituted and sliced (Porcini or Oyster work also)

Morel Water

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1 tablespoon Flour

I sweet Pepper, chopped

Chicken Stock

Salt and Pepper

1 cup cooked Chicken and/or Turkey

The cooking is simple. Make a blonde (light colored) roux with the oil and flour, stirring constantly. Add the chopped pepper, and stir for another minute or so. Add the morel water, filtered through a paper towel, and the chicken stock, until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer until the sweet pepper taste becomes apparent–I let it go for around ten minutes, and add more stock if necessary. Finally add the cooked bird, and warm it all the way through. Best if served on toasted baguette slices.

Though I am far from being a calorie counter, this strikes me as a healthier dish than the normal butter and milk a la King. It certainly tastes better than one with canned mushrooms. Good cage free organic chicken doesn’t hurt, either. For the best chicken satire ever, see this old video from the days when Steven Colbert still did The Colbert Report. This is not a spoiler, but he has a pet chicken named Shirley, who is boneless, and lives inside a paper towel roll tube.

Starting with Chickens

Right Profile–My Best Side

Despite the fact that we have every vermin imaginable around here, from raccoons to rednecks, we are venturing into the chicken growing hobby. The birds live inside a coop inside a bigger coop and another enclosure. They will eventually have some free range time, if the foxes and hawks don’t get them first. We have an entire population of light phase red tail hawks, and assorted accipters as well.

So it isn’t easy being a chicken. These five week olds are Barred Rocks, and we plan on adding a couple of Rhode Island Reds. These are for egg laying, though if it comes down to it, in the words of young Lily Kingsolver, founder of Lily’s Lovely Layers, “We’ll only kill the mean ones.” Enough said.

Cage Match! Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas, Sue Massachusetts over Chicken Cages!

Chickens

Five Southern states dare defend their rights to torture animals.

Once again chicken cages are a hot political topic for Southern Attorneys General. Though Indiana is lead dog, so to speak, on this subject, brave Southern politicians are taking their stand on our rights to squeeze chickens into cages the size of tissue dispensers. Though 77% of Massachusetts voters don’t want our crap eggs and crap chicken meat sold in their fast food places, what right do they have to say no to Big Ag and their evil minions in the South?  This is Alabama’s second shot at this issue–the first case against California went down in flames.

So where is Mississippi on all this?