Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Chronicle of the meat chicken: Conclusion

Things I have learned from this experience:

1)  Raising your own meat is a lot of work!  I had to clean this chicken coop every 3 days after these chickens turned 2 weeks old because they constantly ate and pooped.  

2)  Meat chickens smell worse than laying chickens because they poop so much.  I will now only try raising these in the winter time so that the neighbors are not forced to smell my stinky chickens through their open windows!  (Note: Make sure your butcher butchers year round, before buying chickens in the winter...)

3)  Elevate their food and water so that they have to stretch to reach it.  This will insure that the breast of your chicken is nice and round, not pointed.  (Special thanks to the girl at TSC for this tip!)

4)  After having your chickens butchered, they must sit in your refrigerator for 48-72 hours BEFORE you freeze them.  I had mentioned that I felt the meat was chewy/though here is why: After an animal is butchered the muscles go into a state of rigor (Ever heard of rigor mortis?)  In order for the meat to soften up you have to allow time for the muscles to relax.  If you take your birds home right from the butcher and throw them in your freezer then you are preserving them in that rigor mortis stage.  Hence, chewy/tough meat....

5) Will I do this again?  Yes I think I will.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Chronicle of the meat chicken: Part 4


Well, today we cooked one of the chickens that we raised.  They flavor was amazing, but I thought the meat was tough.  It was not terrible, just chewier then what I thought it would be and chewier then what I would buy at the grocery store.  I don't understand why they are tough.  I need to do some research.  I butchered them at 8 weeks and 3 days old just as the hatchery recommended.  I fed them a high protein food and I made sure they got exercise.  If anyone else knows why this is, please let me know!  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Blog Hop: This Week In The Garden

This week on the farm there are all kinds of new things happening in the garden!  I am very proud of my new herb garden.  I am starting out with basil, chives, apple mint and oregano in pots, and installed 6 raised beds in the back garden that I have filled with dirt but have not planted anything in yet.  

We also planted this huge tomato plant out front in a large pot.  It looks like it really likes this location, because it has sure taken off in the few days it has been out there!  

Country Hospitality


Katzya and Opie preparing for their big day!

     Last weekend Katzya had a horse show 45 minutes from home.  Technically 45 minutes is not that far from home, however when you don't leave the barn until 11 pm and you have to be back by 7 am, it is an extra 90 minutes of precious sleep that you are missing out on!
     I was discussing this the week before with a woman that I work with and she said, "Well, I live right next door to that arena, and I am leaving for vacation.  You should stay at my house!"  I wasn't sure what to think about this.  I knew she wouldn't be home that weekend and I needed a place to stay, but I still wasn't sure if I could honestly take her up on her offer.  I wanted to badly, but it just felt foreign to have someone extend themselves and their home so freely.
     So she gave me her house keys before she left work on Tuesday and told me to stay in her house, eat whatever I wanted, and to relax.  I stewed on this for the rest of the week, thoroughly convinced that she didn't mean it when she invited me to stay.  Friday came around and I had every intention of staying in a hotel, but thought I would text her and just feel her out.  (Hotels are expensive!)  Behold, she texted me back, explained where the clean towels were kept, and again reminded me to make myself at home.  So with my invitation again confirmed, I stayed at her house and I was so glad that I did!  Her home was absolutely beautiful, welcoming, and it felt just like home.  This was something that I could never say about the Holiday Inn.
It was after the fact that I got to contemplating and questioning why I was so uncomfortable staying at this person's house.  Why did her invitation seem so foreign to me?  What is it that makes us turn down other people's nice gestures?
     I came to the conclusion that people are not used to other people being genuine anymore.  It is as if you have to question people constantly.  You have to worry if they really mean to offer kindness.  I don't like feeling like that, and I am going to be more open and genuine in my kindness.  Who knows?!  Maybe I will inspire someone else to do the same thing!  I really feel like this is the next step of farming that I need to work on.  I am going to be kind and allow other people to do the same thing for me, because that is how we do it here down on the farm!

Friday, May 18, 2012

A masked bandit.

The masked bandit!

Katzya came inside the house tonight very up set because we had a raccoon out by the garage.  She said she scared it back on top of the shed, but that I needed to come look at it.  When I went outside I realized how close to my chickens and ducks he was.  He has been sleeping in the neighbor's shed which is 20 feet from my Duck Hut.  This is making me very uneasy.  Tomorrow I am going to set a trap with hopes of catching him!

Katzya was using a football to ward off the raccoon!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Chronicle of the meat chicken: Part 3

My biggest chicken, which was 6 pounds!

A freezer full of hard work and gratefulness!

When I first started urban farming I thought that maybe I could butcher my food myself.  However, I just can't do it so I contacted a local German Baptist butcher who did this for me.  I was told when I made my appointment that I could drop my chicken at 8:30 am and pick them up later that day at 1 pm.  You have to pull their food away from them 12-15 hrs before butchering so their crop will be empty, but you can give them water until you load them that morning.

So, I did just as I was told to do.  I pulled their food last night and let them have all of the water that they wanted before loading them into my car.  I didn't have a chicken crate, so I folded down the seats in my CRV, laid down cardboard, and loaded them into a wire dog crate.  Thank goodness we only had the 15 chickens because that crate was packed full!  I thanked each chicken prior to loading it in the crate.  I thanked it for being my dinner and for nourishing me and my family.  I hope that they understood how grateful I was to them.  

When I arrived at the butcher I explained that I didn't have a clue what I was doing, and was reassured that I would have the hang of this in no time.  The receptionist told me to drive my chickens around the back of the building and that a gentleman would help me unload them there.  I drove around and was greeted by a young man who helped me put my chickens in plastic crates and loaded them on a cart for me.  After I unloaded them, I went back to the front of the building and explained how I wanted them packaged and got my pick up time worked out.  The lady said I was welcome to watch through a large picture window that they have.  I wasn't sure how I felt about that, but curiosity got the best of me and I decided to take a peek.  It was a very clean facility with everyone wearing nets over their hair and protective coverings for their clothes.  I watched the entire process and it was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

I left for several hours and came back to pick up my chickens after they were chilled.  These are the pictures of my finished product.  I am very proud of how pretty they are!  All of my chickens dressed out at 4-6 pounds, which is a pretty nice weight.  I can't wait to eat one just to see if all of my hard work was for a good reason.  I will keep you all posted! 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Monday!

Boss says: "Mondays are for the birds!" 
Have a great day anyway!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

An impostor among us....

This morning when I was out feeding the animals I got quite the surprise.  I was feeding the rabbits, with my back turned to the chicken coop when I first heard it.  The unmistakable sound of "Cockadoodle-Doo!"  I was shocked!  I turned around and all was quiet.  I asked the chickens who had made that noise, and the only answer I received was the quiet reply of 36 eyes staring back at me.  I turned back around, and the crowing started again.  Quickly I spun back around and there was one of our Americauna chickens, Puffy.  Puffy's chest was stuck out and his head was thrown back while he was letting out the perfect "Cockadoodle-Doo".  The question immediately became, what were we going to do with our rooster?  He couldn't stay in the city!  After making a few calls, and practically begging our friends to help us out we found Puffy a home at the Remy's house in the country!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fun Friday Giveaway!

It's Friday!  
And what better way to celebrate than with a little giveaway to start off this weekend!

When I was a kid I used to have this octopus named Wacky Wally.  He was super cool!  You would throw him on the wall and he would stick to it and then slowly "walk" down the wall.  Well, this week we had a book sale at work, and next to the register was a container full of Wacky Wally toys!  I bought 2 of them.  One for me and one for one of you.  So here is what you have to do.... You have to go to my blog and leave a comment telling me what your favorite toy was as a child and why.  This will enter you in a random drawing and the winner of the drawing wins their very own Wacky Wally!  (I will take comments until 7:00 am Saturday morning.)  Good Luck!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Chronicle of the meat chicken: Part 2

Getting some fresh air and sunshine!

Well, the meat chickens are 7 weeks old today.  They are huge!  Here they are in the outside pen getting some exercise and sunshine.  Exercise is very important to their body because they grow so quick and if they don't move around then their legs give out on them.  I have been placing their water at one end of their pen and food at the opposite in order to make sure that they are walking, because honestly these guys will just lay down to eat and drink and never get up if allowed.  They don't act like my egg layers.  They are much more sedate and not as personal.  I thought at first I might feel bad about eating these guys, but honestly I feel okay about it.  I am happy and very proud of the fact that I have been able to raise my own food under clean and humane conditions with no chemicals.  I am nervous about next week though, just because I have never done this before and I don't know what to expect.

Scratching around....

It is so funny because these boys have just started  challenging each other. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Permission to make a mistake...

I think everyone has been in a situation where they have realized they made a mistake.  We all do this in life at some point or another.  My family did this with Oatis.

Our daughter shows horses and has a very nice, but older horse named Mia.  We have had her for 2 years and she just turned 20 years old.  In Mia's last life she showed heavily and she really just does not enjoy it at all, therefore we knew at some point we would replace her with a younger model and let her retire.  Our plan was to find a new show horse now, however we ran across Oatis in the fall of last year and decided to purchase early.  We knew next to nothing about horses, so going on the judgement and opinions of others we really thought we made a great purchase!  Well, Oatis is a great horse but he is not the horse for us.  This is very sad to admit because we love him, however he is so new to training and our daughter is so new to riding that this was a disaster in the making!

Gratefully, we and our trainer worked out a deal and Oatis now belongs to her.  I am very happy about this and feel like the weight has been lifted off of my shoulders!  Oatis has a home where he will be loved, ridden and turned out to pasture and we feel like it is permissible to say that we made a mistake.  We should have purchased a horse with more experience.  I guess you live and you learn.... 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Wooly Wilma!

Meet Wilma!

Meet Wilma!  Wilma and her sister Reese are the newest additions to Rainbow Acres Farm.  Wilma is a french angora rabbit  that I just purchased.  I am so excited!  Look at all that wool!  This crop of wool is sort of a bust because she wasn't groomed regularly, but I am excited to see what will be there in 4 months.

Wilma and Reese came after a longing to raise wool on my farm.  I wanted fiber so bad, and it only seemed right to be able to provide my own angora yarn since I knit so much.   The Reluctant Farmer was not to excited about this experiment, but as I reminded her, it could be worse.  I could have brought home an Angora goat!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Chronicle of the meat chicken: Part 1

These chickens were born on the same day  and the size difference is about 4 pounds!

This year on the farm I have decided to raise meat chickens.  I chose a Cornish Rock cross meat bird, and started out with 16 of them.  I lost one several weeks ago to an unknown cause.  (It is thought that that these birds have heart attacks easily due to their massive weight gain over a short period of time, so I am guessing that is what happened.)  I really wanted to try it last year, however I was nervous that it would be too complicated and I would be unable to do so.  It really has been very easy to do so far, although I will say that these beasts can eat!  Actually, that is all they do: eat and poop!  It is impressive how fast they grow and feather out.  They have 3-4 pounds over my egg layer chicks and are completely feathered by 5 weeks.