Sunday, April 1, 2012

meat birds and convertibles

There's a lot to do this week, it's going to be a busy one. I have a lot of big food production plans to get started, and they involve chickens and a greenhouse.

I was asked why I am taking my birds to be processed by another farmer? Don't I butcher them myself? The answer is yes. I do butcher chickens myself, but without the fancy pluckers and outdoor propane burners, it isn't practical to do more than 2 at a time alone. It takes about half an hour a bird to do it proper, and it costs 3.00 a bird to take it to Ben Shaw in Greenwich. There I can deliver a crate of live birds on a Tuesday morning and pick up a cooler of plastic wrap, weighed, and ready-to-freeze or barter birds for 3 bucks a pop. It costs 30.00 to have ten birds done in what would take me fifteen hours of bloody work. So it makes a lot of sense. While I still work a full-time job, that 15 hours is a big deal. But I do plan on doing one in today possibly. It can rest in the fridge over night and be an amazing Monday Night Roast that will last me all week in reincarnations like salads, sandwiches, soups, and taco filler.

I could not be happier with the Freedom Rangers. They grew into beautiful, LARGE, birds. They didn't have issues with fighting, disease, or so much as a sneeze of a bug and they were raised in winter! A very abnormal winter, but still. They did amazing and I bet they will taste amazing. I am a convert from the Cornish Cross. Long as Kendal Fox will keep going, I'll keep buying his birds. My only complaint is they are eating me out of house and home right now! So it is time to see our friend Ben and write one check for the freezer instead of several to the feed store!

I also have an amazing new greenhouse to install! It's not huge, it's not even free standing, but it will make such a difference in year-long greens production at this farm. It's from a company called Convertible Greenhouses and its a model called the South Sider. You buy this kit and it attaches to the side of your house, making a solarium of sorts. Then you can fold down the plastic walls like the back of a convertible for times of full sun and summer heat. Come fall, winter, and early spring you have a heat-saving and veggie growing hot house right next to the building you are already paying to heat anyway. Might as well use some of that heat to feed into a greenhouse attached to your living area and grow some kale and spinach all winter long.

This morning I am meeting Tim at the Barn for more photos with Merlin, to mark our progress as a team working towards better riding and fitness together. Then the afternoon will be dedicated to archery, house chores, errands, and finishing up the latest webinar on wool working. It's a full day, lots of plans, and good things ahead.

Hope your weekends are going well!


Blogger Karen Rickers said...

Wow, I bet those birds are going to taste terrific!

April 1, 2012 at 7:48 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Karen, I can not wait....

April 1, 2012 at 7:56 AM  
Blogger Sewing Machine Girl said...

Jenna how do you arrange your time? I find that no TV opens many possibilities.

April 1, 2012 at 8:45 AM  
Blogger Odie Langley said...

I know it will such a blessing when those birds are in your freezer to enjoy whenever you want. Have a great rest of your Sunday.

April 1, 2012 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger Windhaven Farm said...

Oh yes... 15 hours of time is huge... we try and watch stuff like that too, sometimes you can work your butt off to save a dime when there are really competent folk around that can save you 15 cents, instead! We have our birds processed by a local company that is a family and they are awesome... and have all the equipment to make it quick and humane. That is good too...

April 1, 2012 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger Kathleen Stoltzfus said...

If you can manage to find a place on the south side of your house, ideally with a window opening into your house, you'll be amazed at the solar gain you get on a sunny winter day. it could actually help keep your house warm.

April 1, 2012 at 9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have a good day Jenna! I'll be over for supper Monday night.

I wish. :)

April 1, 2012 at 9:46 AM  
Blogger Elaine said...

I remember one time when I was about 10 my grandmother killed 2 chickens in the back yard (she came from a small village in Greece) ... it wasn't very pretty. I would definitely opt for sending the birds out for whatever reason ..

April 1, 2012 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Indio said...

That's a pretty cool idea for a greenhouse, but quite pricey, though it is much cheaper than a traditional lean-to. It would get a lot of use here, especially if I can ever afford to put in the aquaponics system.

April 1, 2012 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger City Sister said...

My question is the time freedom rangers are ready for processing are the roos crowing or are they still too young?

April 1, 2012 at 11:04 AM  
Blogger Flartus said...

Will you post a photo of the rangers so we can see how big they got? Also, do you still have any emotional twinge when you butcher a bird, or has it become a fairly mundane occurrence for you?

April 1, 2012 at 11:17 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I say "what's next?" a lot SMG!

Remember, I am single, no children, no TV, a 20-minute commute to work just 4 days a week. It opens a lot of time!

April 1, 2012 at 11:18 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Flartus. I feel the same way I always have, distant and grateful. It's not fun, but don't mind doing it. I'd rather spend a day killing chickens at home than in an office.

April 1, 2012 at 11:20 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

CS: I have heard no crows, and they were born a week before christmas.

I will take pictures!

April 1, 2012 at 11:20 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

I really loved the Freedom Rangers too. I wish I had a source for them closer to home. They had to travel too far to get to me, and we always lost an unacceptable number in transit. :( And when we started out butchering, my husband and I could do about 8 in a (long) day fully by hand. Since we built the mechanical plucker, we can do something like 20-25 in just a couple of hours! It can be very time consuming if you're doing it the "old fashioned" way, for sure!

April 1, 2012 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger becky3086 said...

I can do 5 birds in a morning and I would not pay to have them done but I CAN totally see your point. It is a lot of work and it isn't pleasant but I still want to do my own.
The greenhouse sounds wonderful and I am sure will help a lot. We have one we built out of wood we got free and plastic and corrugated panels.

April 1, 2012 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger Katou said...

Jenna, can you explain to me what "SMG" means? Maybe because I'm French, I don't know what those letters mean...

I don't know how you manage to do all that you do. You are really special.

April 1, 2012 at 4:38 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I was just shortening Sewing Machine Girl! Cause I was answering her question!

April 1, 2012 at 6:10 PM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

If it was just me I'd gladly pay someone to butcher my chickens. My sister and I did about 25 birds in about 6 hours...with no mechanical plucker. If we'd had a plucker, we could have done it in half the time. I killed, she plucked, I gutted. Now I'm switching over to meat rabbits because I'm too cheap to pay anyone to do it for me, and I don't want to do it myself. :-)

April 2, 2012 at 8:07 AM  
Blogger Pit Stop Farm said...

Jenna - that answers my question perfectly. I didn't realize they only charged $3 each. It would take many chickens being butchered to equal the cost of mechanized pluckers and such.

April 2, 2012 at 10:13 AM  

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