Friday, January 20, 2012

so they grow

The winter meat bird project, so far, has been nothing but easy, inexpensive, and holding strong. A rectangular structure of haybales held in place with t-posts, and roofed with some metal sheeting is all their "barn" really is. One heatlamp hangs inside, and the 29 red fat birds make it home. Twice a day they get fresh water and feed—and they seem to need fresh bedding every other—but that is the extent of the work. I don't recommend raising meat birds when it is 10 degrees outside but for this farm they are growing fine.

Either a local farm or I will butcher these birds. If I do it I will only do four at a time, weekly, and deliver the two fresh birds to Steve and Molly to eat or freeze. I daydreamed about this while hauling water buckets to Jasper today. Thought about handing a couple of people I care for a meal I spent weeks tending to, like a little garden, and knowing they will savor and sustain their day from it. So simple, so very very simple. But I really look forward to handing him that cooler in a few weeks, and shaking his hand, and telling him the River Cottage Meat Book's herb chicken recipe is all you need the rest of your life, and to enjoy it.

If Jenna from college could meet Farmer Jenna of her own future, she would shudder at this post. Things change.

14 Comments:

Blogger Christine said...

Good changes!

No matter at what stage of life they come!

What are you feeding the chixs?

January 20, 2012 at 6:38 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

they get a grower ration, and cracked corn, and that's it really. They would grow faster in warmer weather, but right now they get as much as they can eat and it hasn't been to bad. I think I am on my 4th bag of feed for all 30 (-1)

January 20, 2012 at 6:48 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

I found the easiest way to dispatch the birds in an quick fashion was to put them in the killing cone, have someone stretch their necks and use the tree lopers to take the head off. I had a bucket lined with a plastic bag to catch the heads and blood. We used a turkey fryer to heat the scalding water and were very fortunate to have a friend loan a Featherman for plucking. A communal effort makes it a lot more enjoyable if that is possible.

January 20, 2012 at 8:02 PM  
Blogger Lyssa said...

I'm splitting an order of freedom rangers with friends in a few weeks...raising just five of them in California is going to look very different!

January 21, 2012 at 3:00 AM  
Blogger phaedra96 said...

Isn't it funny how your prioritiess change as you "grow up"? What seemed important at 19 has absolutely nothing to do with 29.

January 21, 2012 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Brenda said...

Things certainly do change! I LOVE the priorities I have today. Homesteading, growing own food, working and laughing with my family and back to basics with little technology. I wouldn't have it any other way. Of course try telling that to family and friends who think we are destitute or down on our luck and feel sorry for us! This is a lifestyle choice that I would heartily recommend to anyone. It really puts priorities into place when you are a part of something where it comes down to survival and knowing you played a part. Who can be depressed over a ruined pair of shoes when you just saved a newborn lamb's life?

January 21, 2012 at 11:12 AM  
Blogger Misty said...

I would be interested to see what your per pound (freezer weight) cost is if you were to keep track of not only the cost of the heat lamp running full time (while in the brooder and out in their hay house--the wattage can be calculated based on your electric rate) plus the actual cost of feed versus what the exact same batch of Freedom Rangers raised in the summer. (Even having lost a chick prior to putting them out in the hay house and again one recently, the total pounds of chicken produced would be fairly accurate.)

It's a good experiment. But basically you're getting the same meat you'd get from a commercial grower. All grain fed. There's the difference between what Joel Salatin produces and what you're producing. His are raised on grain AND pasture. You can't discount the advantage to pasture raised meat. (When butchering meat chickens, I'm always amazed at the amount of grass and insects that are in their crops. Free feed and better for them than a wholly grain diet.)

I feel the same way about other livestock produced for my table. Grass fed beef is superior to grain fed beef. Pork that have access to greens also have a better flavor. And the list goes on.

In the end, I agree with how you feel when you hand over something you've produced yourself. There is a very satisfying glow in the middle of your being for having created a usable product that other's appreciate.

January 21, 2012 at 12:50 PM  
Blogger farmgirlwanabe said...

Dear Jenna

I discovered your book Barnheart and received it last wednesday - I am already three quarters of the way through and will be ordering your other two today. I am a farmgirlwanabe from Ontario Canada. I wish I had the guts to do what you have done when I was in my twenties.

I have slowly, after getting married and having kids, started to lead self sustaining lifestyle in terms of food - I have always gardened as my mother did when Iw as growing up (and her mother etc etc since we're of slavic origins). I started with learning how to can and preserve. From there I learned to make my own bread, dehydrate fruit, graduated to making my own sausages and now my own bacon and smoke fish and meat. This summer I will tackle making terrines and pates and expand my confiting techniques. Every summer and every winter I take the time to learn a new technique for preserving and growing food. I have practiced square foot gardening for fifteen years now and my 'bible' is Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.

one lady who has been a true inspiration and the main reason I am commenting as I thought you might find her words of wisdom useful is Jackie Clay from Backwoods Home Magazine. This is one heck of a woman - she homesteads in Minnesota and has been writing articles and books and blogging. Her column is Ask Jackie Clay - www.backwoodshome.com - amazing amazing woman

I look forward to going through your blogs now that I have 'discovered' your writing as well.

I do not have a farm but dream of having one someday. In the me antime I have found a great farmer here in Northeastern Ontario who uses horses instead of gas guzzling tractors to manage his 200+acres. He manages his land chemical/additive free and grows/raises heritage breeds and vegetables - chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, sheep, pigs. I am on my way tomorrow to pick up 7 dozen eggs and 2 pork bellies (time to restock my homemade smoked bacon). He is also into Communisty shared Agriculture re vegetables and we will purchase a share in his farm.

I am in the middle of finishing a master's right now and hope to be finished by year end - once that's done I too hope to blog about life, being a farmgirlwanabe, and cooking/preserving. My dream is to live off the land in a self sustainable manner and make charcuterie.

major kudos to you jenna for making your dream come true and also successfully writing about it

sincerely

farmgirlwanabe

January 21, 2012 at 1:00 PM  
Blogger farmgirlwanabe said...

Dear Jenna

I discovered your book Barnheart and received it last wednesday - I am already three quarters of the way through and will be ordering your other two today. I am a farmgirlwanabe from Ontario Canada. I wish I had the guts to do what you have done when I was in my twenties.

I have slowly, after getting married and having kids, started to lead a self sustaining lifestyle in terms of food - I have always gardened as my mother did when Iw as growing up (and her mother etc etc since we're of slavic origins). I started with learning how to can and preserve. From there I learned to make my own bread, dehydrate fruit, graduated to making my own sausages and now my own bacon and smoke fish and meat. This summer I will tackle making terrines and pates and expand my confiting techniques. Every summer and every winter I take the time to learn a new technique for preserving and growing food. I have practiced square foot gardening for fifteen years now and my 'bible' is Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.

one lady who has been a true inspiration and the main reason I am commenting as I thought you might find her words of wisdom useful is Jackie Clay from Backwoods Home Magazine. This is one heck of a woman - she homesteads in Minnesota and has been writing articles and books and blogging. Her column is Ask Jackie Clay - www.backwoodshome.com - amazing amazing woman

I look forward to going through your blogs now that I have 'discovered' your writing as well.

I do not have a farm but dream of having one someday. In the me antime I have found a great farmer here in Northeastern Ontario who uses horses instead of gas guzzling tractors to manage his 200+acres. He manages his land chemical/additive free and grows/raises heritage breeds and vegetables - chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, sheep, pigs. I am on my way tomorrow to pick up 7 dozen eggs and 2 pork bellies (time to restock my homemade smoked bacon). He is also into Communisty shared Agriculture re vegetables and we will purchase a share in his farm.

I am in the middle of finishing a master's right now and hope to be finished by year end - once that's done I too hope to blog about life, being a farmgirlwanabe, and cooking/preserving. My dream is to live off the land in a self sustainable manner and make charcuterie.

major kudos to you Jenna for making your dream come true and also successfully writing about it

sincerely

farmgirlwanabe
January 21, 2012 12:49 PM

January 21, 2012 at 1:06 PM  
Blogger farmgirlwanabe said...

oops somehow I sent the comment twice - sorry

January 21, 2012 at 1:35 PM  
Blogger molson said...

things change only for the better, Jenna!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

January 21, 2012 at 2:07 PM  
Blogger molson said...

Things vhange only for the better!!!!!!!


Follow the dream!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

January 21, 2012 at 2:08 PM  
Blogger Ngo Family Farm said...

Cool! Thanks for the update, and glad your "experiment" has been successful!
-Jaime

January 21, 2012 at 4:29 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

Jenna! I have been meaning to tell you that lately it just seems as if you are in such a positive place/really hitting your stride. It's wonderful; thanks for sharing so much of your life with us readers!

ps: And I can totally relate - the old art school me would never even be able to fathom composting gallons of human waste with just gloves and a shovel (and would be gagging at the thought)... and yet here I am!

January 22, 2012 at 8:18 PM  

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