It was about this time last year that my husband told me he had figured out what he wanted to do with this piece of ground we had bought about six years earlier. He proceeded to tell me we were going to raise chickens and that we were going to move them – every day. Then, he told me about the cows and how we’d move them every day, too. And the pigs – well, the pigs wouldn’t have to be moved until they emptied their feeder. I don’t remember if I laughed or cried, maybe I cried from laughing so hard. Perhaps I laughed when he told me we were going to move all these animals daily, and I cried when he told me how we were going to “process” the chickens ourselves, right here on the farm. He finally wore me down and well, you’ve been following the rest of the story.
While working our full time day jobs this year, we raised and processed about 220 chickens, 40 turkeys and 4 pigs, as well as building a flock of 80 egg layers. I have continued to laugh, and cry, throughout this entire experience. However, the sense of personal satisfaction is tremendous in this accomplishment! I don’t have the talent with words to describe it.
As the year comes to a close and we start thinking about 2013, we have realized a few things:
1. We love what we are doing!
2. We can raise good products that are more nutritious and tasty than anything in the grocery store
3. We can even make a little money doing it, but not enough to give up the day jobs anytime soon
But the most important things we learned are:
1. We started this business about 20 years too late in terms of our physical capabilities to keep up
2. We want to live closer to our kids and grandkids
So we have decided we are going to sell the farm and make another move. We will find good local farmers and work hard to be their best customers because we now know how hard they work!
We are so grateful to our family for their help and support this year. Our customers are the best and we were honored to meet their needs. Thank you for reading my silly posts! But most of all, we thank God for giving us this wonderful opportunity! He is so good to us and all the glory goes to Him!
We wish all of you a Merry Christmas and all the best in 2013!
Yes, we are still here and are still farming. But it has been all we could do to care for the animals while planning and hosting a wedding for our youngest son. He and his beautiful bride were married here on the farm last weekend. It was beautiful!
We have been working on our fall birds since mid-August. Our Thanksgiving turkeys have been on pasture for several weeks, as well as 150 broilers. They are all doing well in spite of some cool evenings. We will be setting our processing dates soon. An email will be forthcoming with specifics if you have ordered from us. We still have about 30-40 broilers available if you’d like to reserve some.
This is a picture of the turkeys and their new shelter. They are fertilizing the orchard area for us.
We decided that we need an official logo to print on business cards, our sites, product packaging, etc. Many thanks to Hendricks & Co Art for their help!
We’ve had clouds and rain for the past week. I’m not complaining because we needed it and still do. But the sun is shining today and it’s a glorious morning! Hope you all have a great day!
Man, oh, man is it hot! We’ve had triple digit temps for the last week. After losing two hens and a turkey, we decided we had to do something for the animals. We’ve moved the baby barred rocks and turkeys out of the brooder into chicken tractors in the shade. And we put up a shade structure on the back of the Eggmobile to give the layers some extra shade in the hot part of the day.
The pigs have been getting sprayed a couple times per day. They L-O-V-E it!
We’ve had no rain since June 11. I sure hope the weather breaks soon!
I’m reminded of that huge peak in a large roller coaster – you go up, up, up, up and up, then you drop like a rock and go through a couple loopty-loops!
High: We processed our chickens and have gotten some pretty positive feedback about them!
High: The baby Barred Rocks and turkeys are really growing and thriving!
High: The first quail hatch are in the flight pen and are flying really well.
High: The weather has been fabulous, which enabled our late garden to take off.
High: The sunflowers are growing well, especially where the egg layers have been.
Low: A storm came in Monday and flipped the roof off of the porch on the Man Cave, broke the chimney and scattered debris all around the house.
Loopty-Loop: It also flipped that doggone Eggmobile – AGAIN! Snapped the 2X4 braces in half. We lost 6 of our hens this time, plus all the day’s eggs.
It blew from the east which was bizarre since the storm was moving west to east. There were some rotating cells in the area, so who knows whether it was straight line winds or a small bit of twister action. Ah, well. It could have been much worse. I suppose it takes the lows to make you really appreciate the highs! We still wouldn’t trade what we are doing!
Just a few shots from this morning…
Hatched turtle eggs????
Posted in Photos, Sustainable Farming
Tagged Chickens, ducks, farm, farming, grapes, Memphis, Mississippi, pigs, sunflowers, turkeys, turtles
Whew! What a day and what an experience. Before yesterday, the only time I ever tried to do anything with a chicken besides take it out of the package, none of the parts resembled anything you’ve ever seen. But yesterday, I learned all about the chicken from the inside out. It was sort of like science class, or at least that’s how I approached it. As a softie and a squeamish person, it helped. I could probably write a short novel about the day, but I will just hit the highlights for the sake of time. All the pictures are at the end.
The Process (You should probably skip to the next paragraph if you are squeamish.)
So here’s the basic process for those who have never seen it done so you can follow along. You put the chicken into the killing cone upside down and cut their main arteries. When they are upside down, they go into sort of a trance or something and it is mostly peaceful, for lack of a better term. Once drained, they go into the scalder which is a tank of hot water. The water needs to be maintained at the right temperature to loosen the feathers. Then they go into a plucker, which is a machine with little rubber fingers which pull the feathers from the bird. Next you remove all the unnecessary parts, inside and out. From there, they go into a huge cooling tank with lots of ice to get them to 40 degrees as quickly as possible. Then you bag and weigh them.
The Set-up and Equipment
We had all of our equipment under a tent with a screen all the way around. No issues with bugs or flies at all. The set up worked well, except we think we need to pour a concrete slab or maybe put down some gravel for the future. From an equipment standpoint, the plucker was good. The cones were fine. But that scalder and roto dunker left a lot to be desired in my opinion. The pilot light kept going out so we would lose water temperature. The root dunker couldn’t keep up with the plucker so we were standing around waiting on chickens to clean. I think the Featherman people are going to hear from us. Even being new to this, it should not have taken us from 9 until 4 to process the number of birds we had.
As first time broiler chicken farmers, we’ve been so consumed with daily care and keeping them alive and healthy, we hadn’t had much time to think about the end product. But the past few days, the little niggling thought about how good the product would be has been there – will they be big enough? I’m pleased to report that with 120 birds, we averaged just over 5 pounds per bird, with a few weighing in at a little over 6 pounds fully dressed. The goal is between 4 and 5 pounds, so we feel we did pretty good. The proof will be when we cook one tonight. I can’t wait!
Many thanks to our family and friends who came to help! We could not have done this without you! Having such a great team really made the work fun and the day go by quickly! I can’t wait for the next go around!
We got our new baby egg layers today along with our replacement turkeys!
No, we didn’t give up yet – I just haven’t had time to post. And my reader hasn’t been working consistently so it’s been hard to read much as well. But, here is an update….
We’ve had problems with the broilers having enough food and water on days we both work. We’ve come up with a double bucket solution for the water. We t’d them off so now they have 10 gallons in the morning and it lasts longer than we need it to.
They had also been running out of food with just one feeder. So we fabricated our own feeders that are at least twice as deep. Problem solved!
Our chickens and turkeys are looking really good.
We will be processing for the first time Monday. We are SO looking forward to seeing and tasting the fruits of our labor!