chicken processing

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You CAN do it!

We made a video of how we process chickens today, just for fun.  July 25th is the date you can come and learn how to do this at home.  It really isn’t hard!  Raising chickens is an easy place to start in raising your own meats–and you CAN do it all yourself.  Check it out:

Pastured Poultry

Remi, Jadwiga, and Rudina proudly display their hand-plucked chickens in last year's class.

 

Polish farmer Remi and Mark discussing how to work various enterprises together on a farm.

Polish farmer Remi and Mark discussing how to work various enterprises together on a farm.

Remi, Jadwiga, and Rudina proudly display their hand-plucked chickens.

Remi, Jadwiga, and Rudina proudly display their hand-plucked chickens.

Our Pastured Poultry class in June featured an international flare.  Two of the students had come all the way from Poland to learn how to raise animals on Pasture.  Remi and his wife Jadwiga have worked with SAND International  to learn vegetable production for many years.  Now Remi wants to expand his hilly 9 acres on the edge of a small Polish town to include pastured chickens and sheep.  They chose to attend an Anyone Can Farm class because we are located on about the same latitude so farming conditions will be similar.  Remi faces other challenges that make sustainable farming appealing: his land is pretty much all fairly steep hillside, and gas is about $8/gal. so gas powered implements aren’t an economical option.

Remi and Jadwiga enjoyed the many aspects of the farm, like collecting eggs.

Remi and Jadwiga enjoyed the many aspects of the farm, like collecting eggs.

Remi soaked in everything about chickens he could.  A lot of the lessons were firsts for him!  He had never slaughtered an animal before, never handled many of the power tools used to build the chicken tractor in class, and has never seen a diversified farm that strives to make everything compliment the whole.  Remi already composts vegetable matter on his farm, so the compost piles and how we use the animal wastes to build compost that then makes better animal feed was of interest to him.  He also made a point of discussing the pigs and the rotationally grazed cows with Mark.  He even helped Mark move the cows on Saturday.  He felt he carried enough information away from the weekend to start at home with his large plan for his small acres.  The weekend was a success!

Hosting folks from Poland, as well as their American hosts who had experience in India, Liberia, and Poland made the class an educational experience for us, as well!

We hope to meet YOU at the next class, July 19-21.  You can still sign up!  The next weekend class is Hog Harvest Days,

In this video, Mark explains what a Pastured Poultry class involves:

Pastured Poultry

Frequently Asked Question: What kind of chicken should I raise for meat?

There are a few options now:

1)

Broiler chickens (Cornish cross) in a chicken tractor.

Broiler chickens (Cornish cross) in a chicken tractor.

Broilers.  These are a Cornish chicken crossed with another breed (Vantress, White Mountain Rock, etc.).  They grow quickly, 6-9 weeks depending on how big you want them and how you raise them.  They are not as hardy and need more careful brooding than the other types of birds.  They are messier and smellier.  They are not as efficient on pasture and do require grain feeding.  That’s the downside.  The up side is that they grow quickly so they are come and gone in just a couple of months.  They do produce a nice, meaty carcass.  They can be pastured (we have ours out), and do best in the contained “chicken tractor” because they are babies their whole lives.

2)

This is a Buff Orpington rooster;  Known to be dociile, good egg layers, and tasty eating.

This is a Buff Orpington rooster; Known to be dociile, good egg layers, and tasty eating.

Layer chickens/heritage birds.  Roosters make great eating.  There are “heavy” breeds and “light” breeds.  You want a “heavy” breed like a Buff Orpington, Barred Rock, Black Sex Link, Black Australorp, or Rhode Island Red.  Down side: roosters take about 24 or more weeks to reach a nice butchering weight and are not usually as fat or meaty as a Cornish cross.  They don’t make the boneless, skinless breast type of cuts.  They can be chewier or tougher than the Cornish cross birds and need a little different cooking technique.  Up side: They have more flavor in the meat.  The meat can be fairly tender if cooked correctly.   They are better foragers and can grow well on alternative feeds and grasses/bugs/etc.  The rooster chicks are often cheaper than the broiler chicks.  These fellows

like to “free range” and can be contained in a tractor but prefer an open house situation.

3) Freedom Rangers.  This is a new hybrid.  They look like a layer rooster but grow quicker like the Cornish cross.  Most people we know who have raised them have done so in about 12 weeks.  They forage well and can grow on forage and also need some grain.  They don’t get as heavy as the Cornish cross, but still have a nice double breast.  They are a little more difficult to find as chicks but are becoming more available.

That’s the quick answer.  We do have a Pastured Poultry class coming up soon: June 28 – 30.  Some scholarships are available, so let us know if that would help you be able to come.  Here’s Mark’s intro to the class:

http://ww

w.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=AaiYGjqmMNs

Beds!

Mark brought home the first installment of bunkbeds for the Bunkhouse.  The guys set them up this morning and they look great!  We are excited to have people come and stay with us.

Keith and Mark putting together a bunk bed.

Keith and Mark putting together a bunk bed.

Joe and Sam finish another bed.

Joe and Sam finish another bed.

 

 

 

 

 

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Finished product, ready and waiting for guests!

Finished product, ready and waiting for guests!

 

 

 

Joe and Sam got all tired out!

Joe and Sam got all tired out!

 

Sam and Joe would like you to think that they worked so hard setting up the new bunkbeds that they had to nap.  They report the beds are comfortable and those who stay in the Bunkhouse will appreciate them.  Especially after a hard day of making biochar, working in soil, or building a chicken tractor.  We still have room in the Biochar, Soils and Permaculture, and Pastured Poultry classes.  The Hog Harvest classes are a ways off, but it can’t hurt to plan ahead as that’s a popular class.  Sign up today to get your spot!

Chickens (and more)

Wondering what the Pastured Poultry Course is all about?  Mark tells you here:

 

Sign up today! Share the word with your friends and food conscious groups.  Classes are coming up soon and we want to make sure we get everyone in.

Energy

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Even zuchinni looks good in March!

Even zuchinni looks good in March!

I was walking the other day: the sun was shining but the wind was blowing cold.  I could feel everything starting to move like a sleeping person about to wake up.  What was sleeping is ready to spring up and get going!  But now, on the 21st of March, it’s still under snow.  So it waits, building energy, getting more restless, until we get some warmer weather and it can explode.  Spring is coming, no matter what it looks like outside yet!

That makes me think of dirt, garden seeds, compost, cleaning animal areas (to start composting), and seeing familiar faces come up the driveway again to buy chicks or deliver chickens for processing or purchase some rich, biochar laced compost.  I’m ready to see the farm bustling.  In the last year we’ve met so many more people who are raising their own food for the first time.  Folks looking for compost for a garden.  Young moms and dads bringing 10 chickens for processing because they wanted to try thhelpereir hand at healthy meat for their under-5 aged children.  It’s exciting.  They have “spring energy” about them.  They are ready and willing to get up and do something, and often all they need to really run with it is a little help.

If help is what you need: ideas, where to start, how to build something, we are here!  In May we have two pastured poultry classes, a biochar class (you get to make a retort), and a soils and permaculture course (you can grow vegetables anywhere).  The Courses tab contains descriptions of the classes.  The Calendar tab tells you when the class will be and has a button to help you sign up for the class you want.  There are “free” classes available as perks on our Indiegogo challenge. Check it out, donate, share it so your friends can come with you, and let us know which class you want.

Spring is coming.  Let’s go!

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