Summer Grilling

When it comes to everyday cooking, I like to keep things simple.

Grilled chicken is easily one of my favorite dishes (along with almost anything grilled).

One of the biggest issues I ran into was thoroughly cooking the meat, yet still keeping it moist and succulent.  The varying thicknesses of chicken parts make it something of a challenge.

Also, since I have a charcoal grill, my temperatures and conditions are harder to control. This makes grilling even more of an art!

My Mom taught me a trick that has made juicy, awesome, amazing grilled chicken simple and easy.  Parboiling!

Once my chicken is all cut up, I get some water boiling and then throw it in for 3-5 minutes.

When my grill is hot, I simply put the chicken on until it's nicely browned and ready for eating.

This way, most of the cooking is done in a controlled environment that's easy to manage, and then I grill the chicken for a short time to get the amazing flavor!

Be sure to take small parts like wings off of the grill sooner than thicker parts like thighs, they cook through much faster.

You know you did it right when the meat right next to a leg or thigh bone, in the thickest part, is white and firm vs. pinkish and raw looking.

Lastly, if you like BBQ chicken like me, have a bowl of your favorite sauce with a brush sitting by the grill.  

When the chicken is pretty much done, paint the BBQ on each piece and let it grill for 30-45 seconds each side.  This caramelizes the sauce and concentrates the flavors.  If you leave it longer, the BBQ begins charring quickly.

I prefer grilling Forager chickens because they have longer, slimmer muscle conformation that lends itself to proper cooking.

I hope you find this little write up helpful!  If you have questions about cooking chicken in any way Email me!

Flavor Vs. Production

As you most likely know, I offer two breeds of chicken.  The Broad Breasted and the Forager.

It's been something of a test run these last two years, because I had never raised the Forager type before.

With more knowledge on how the two differ in growth and meat quality, I'm beginning to draw a few conclusions.

1) F chickens take 4-5 weeks longer to reach the same weight as the BB chickens.

That comes out to 22 extra hours of labor.  another difference is that my BB chickens have a significantly leaner carcass at the same weight.

2) F chickens taste better than BB chickens

Allison and I have noticed that there is simply more wholesome and hearty chicken flavor in F meat.

3) F Chickens are harder to butcher than BB chickens

F chickens are harder to open up, remove intestines, and de-feather.  They are put together stronger than BB chickens.  This point matters big time when there are 50+ birds to do that day.

I have one last detail to figure out, feed conversion of the F vs. BB.  I believe that the F chicken eats more to achieve the same weight as the BB, but I have yet to assemble the numbers.

Considering all the above, I may have to raise my Forager chicken prices next year.  They take longer to grow, are harder to butcher, and I think they eat more feed in the process.

My Key to Daily Stress Relief

These days, I typically work 10 hours in/around a steel building with concrete floors and fluorescent lighting.  The environment is very industrial and, in a word, artificial.

When I walk in the door at 6 in the evening, Eli has a big smile with his little hands extended to me, all ready to go outside.

Allison and I now find it necessary to spell o-u-t-s-i-d-e in front of him, otherwise he gets disappointed if I'm not actually taking him out at that point.

The first thing I have to accomplish before chicken and pig chores with my little buddy, is to slip out of my steel toe boots, remove my socks, and roll my pants up twice.

There's something very good for my soul in placing my bare soles directly on soil and plant life.

It's a grounding experience that leaves me feeling relieved of the stress and discomfort of my artificial work setting.

All the way up until I step on a sharp stalk, or a thorn, this typically increases my stress and discomfort, so I take steps cautiously.

I place Elias in his stroller, fill my buckets with water, and make the trip to my little chicks.

Once my chicks are watered and moved to fresh grass, we head over to the pig pen and fill the mud hole and watering tub too.

By this time, Allison typically has the house smelling wonderful with a home cooked meal, so we head back inside to fill our own bellies.

This life of mine has just about everything I have ever desired.  Through the blessing of the Good Lord, Allison and I have established a wonderful little home here on the South Dakota plains.

Occasional Dose of the Difference

Many people I have talked to, in an attempt to build relationships and sell chickens, find the idea that all food is created unequal is a foreign concept.

Today's modern agricultural world has selected genetics that grow the most the fastest, and they've excelled in their purpose.

As always, when taking paths we've never been down before, we discover the unintended consequences of our actions in time.  

It's impossible for us to predict the many outcomes when everything is connected in ways we're ignorant of.

Now, for my story!

Last year, we grew a heritage breed of butternut squash in our garden.  Our plants didn't produce large quantities, but the squash that we did get were admirable.

These pictures were taken in May 2017, a good 7-8 months after coming out of the garden.  They sat on a shelf in our kitchen for that period of time.

At the same time, we had a pile of 20+ conventional butternuts, from a colony nearby, that we kept in a cool room.  

By February, they were all completely rotten and good only for the chickens.

I have learned that the nutritional properties of meats, fruits, and veggies dictate how long the item stays good for consumption.

High nutritional value means that your food will stay good much longer before it rots if it even rots at all.

So, for the unintended consequence, vast quantities of production in this case means poor shelf life and lesser nutrition.

I believe the same can be found with nearly all foods that are raised with the goal of producing the most the fastest.

Real Life. Are you living it?

Life is a condition that must be continually fed in order to continue.

Real Life to me is a combination of doing things right in two areas, the body and the soul.

I believe that the majority of people in our modern world fall far short of living Real Life.

I believe that this is because those same people feed their body and soul with garbage.

All things that we interact with in our daily lives are "food" for the body and/or soul.  I am deeply concerned with the quality of that "food."

Personally, I want a life filled with depth, richness, health, and overwhelming thankfulness to God for His blessing.  

How do I feed that? How do I enlarge that Real Life in me?

Real Life is fed by Real Food.

Where can Real Food be found?

Our friend Paul taught us how to feed our spiritual body in his letter to the Galatians: "...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."

How do we feed our physical body?

Should we eat foods that have expressed and fulfilled their God given purpose?

Or should we eat foods that have been engineered and raised according to men's wisdom and knowledge?

Who has the best credentials when it comes to feeding the body Real Food that supports Real Life?

Why You Should Buy From Me: Part 2

In Part 1, I covered the lives of the farmers and the chickens involved in the mass produced confinement environment.  The big box store birds.

This time, I want to talk about the slaughter facilities these same chickens are run through.

I've been building for Dakota Provisions in Huron lately, and work with a group of guys that have remodeled and built many slaughtering plants around the country.

My superintendent and his wife will never eat turkey again because of the conditions they found in a butterball plant they were working on.

A fella named Cody told me he can never eat at taco bell again because of the awful stench in the plant that produces their meat.

Now, I realize that these testimonies aren't about chicken producing factories, but from what I've read/heard, these conditions are consistent throughout the meat producing world.

I want to go into the quality of life lived by the employees at these places.

The vast majority of them come from low income areas of living.  Many smoke, drink excessively, do drugs, get in trouble with the law, etc...

In short, they aren't overly concerned about their own health and wellness, why would they care about you?

Are you concerned about who handles your food?  I prefer eating food raised and processed by individuals who care about me and my family.

My job as a farmer who direct markets, depends on two things.  High quality, safe, clean meat, and awesome customer service.  Otherwise, no one will ever consider buying from me a second time, and I will never succeed.

I've got a reputation to build, and relationships to maintain.  I must be trustworthy at all times.

Who do you believe is best suited to put food on your table?

Why You Should Buy From Me: Part 1

Happily, you can have positive impact up and down the entire structure of society, if you take the time to learn what you're actually buying.

Patronizing a business, supports the whole line up of individuals and establishments that worked together to offer the product or service.

Every time a customer buys a chicken from Wal-mart(or most big box stores), they are inadvertently supporting Wal-mart's system.  Let me tell you about the individuals and establishments working to provide that Wal-mart chicken.

We'll start with Tyson.  Tyson owns just about every part of the production line.  The hatchery, the chicks, the feed mills, the slaughtering facilities, and transportation.

The farmers who raise the chickens are required to build the barns and own the land. Chicks, feed, and bedding are supplied by Tyson.  Once the birds are raised and hauled away, it's the farmers job to find a place for the manure.

These chicken farmers are an oppressed people who are chained by immense debt and a stressful work load.

They are required to play by Tyson's rules.  Anytime Tyson wants the farmer to pay for an upgrade, the farmer is obligated to do it. Why? Because if Tyson is unhappy with the farmer or the farmer's facilities, they can, and will, withhold chicks.

If the farmer can't raise chicks, he can't make money.  If he can't make money, he can't pay on the debt incurred by his big barns.

Unfortunately, there is nobody else to turn to to buy chicks, raise, and sell them for a livable profit.  Sounds like a monopoly to me.

Now, lets take a look at the quality of life these chickens have.  

For the entire span of their 6-8 week existence, chickens raised by Tyson farmers eat powdery feed, in a crowded environment, where they never see the sunlight.

If I imagine myself as a chicken, I'd much rather have fresh air, sunshine, room to run, room to scratch, and a smorgasbord of fresh morsels to eat.  

God specifically designed every specie of animal for a wonderful task.  I say allow them the opportunity to fulfill their life purpose! 

So, the birds' lives are boring and sad, and the farmers are not enjoying the independence we've all been given in this country.

I have more to say on this topic, so stay tuned. :-)

Please share this with your conscientious friends! 

The Poultry Guy now has... Pigs?!

That's right folks :) and I am super duper excited about them!

American Guinea Hog is the breed, and they are going to perform some wonderful tasks for me.

I intend to turn and invigorate my garden with them in the spring and fall.  They are awesome light tillage equipment.

They will be rotated on pasture with my chicks following close behind.  Chickens prefer shorter plant life to pick through, so this way I don't have to mow in front of them.

My hogs will delightfully consume all sorts of kitchen scraps, turning them into delicious bacon.

In November, I hope my gilts (young female pigs) will have some babies.  

And last but most certainly not least, my hogs will taste amazing.  If you've never tasted pasture raised pork, let me tell you, you're missing out.

So, within two years, I should have plenty of pastured American Guinea Hog meat available by the half!  Check in with me now if you're interested, I'll make sure you're the first to know when you can get some. :-)