My Babies Are Here!

51 babies shipped on Tuesday and arrived Thursday from PA!  I'm very happy to have animals to tend to again.

Allison had to pick them up for me because I was at work.  Due to the unforseen electrical failure, she had to keep them in our kitchen until I got home and could fix the issue!

I've always enjoyed spending time with animals.  20 minutes in a pasture with the sound of cattle grazing and moving around, does wonders for me after a long day.

These little peepers have just the same effect.  I can stand out there in my trailer and watch them run around doing little chick things for hours.  Just ask Allison.

I spent the week before we left on vacation prepping for their arrival.  I needed to get my trailer all cleaned out, throw down some pine shavings, and lay out feeders and waterers.

The fruits of my labor are below, a warm, dry, well ventilated spot, just for little chicks.

I also had to build and install the "shutter" panel you can see up there on the inside wall.  I still need to get some hinges on it though, it's not able to open in its current state.

I also had to build and install the "shutter" panel you can see up there on the inside wall.  I still need to get some hinges on it though, it's not able to open in its current state.

It'll only be a couple weeks before they outgrow this area and I will begin letting them into the back compartment of the trailer.

It'll only be a couple weeks before they outgrow this area and I will begin letting them into the back compartment of the trailer.

You're welcome to give me a call and come out when we're around!  I'll grab a couple of chicks for you to pet and admire.  ;-)

Want life in the raw? Become a Farmer!

The pros and cons to raising numerous animals, vary from the lowest physical/emotional extreme, to the highest.

A few of the highlights include cute little babies, working outdoors, and the rewarding feeling of directly providing for my family.

On the flip side, death loss is inevitable, the outdoors can be harsh, and a farmer's work never seems to be done.

 

My hardest moment on the farm was at my cousin's ranch in ND.  They have a large flock of sheep and I was helping them during the lambing season.

When there are 300 ewes giving birth, you're bound to run into a few problems.  Especially since this was mid February with snow on the ground.

One little lamb was born with badly deformed front legs and a lower jaw half of its proper length.

Even with 6-7 people there, we didn't have time to care for this baby.  If we did try saving it, this lamb's chances of living much longer were minimal.  

We all knew what needed to be done, but no one wanted to do it.  I finally steeled myself to the task, grabbed the gun and the little lamb, and headed outside.

I cried hot tears into the frozen snow.

 

My most memorable moment with their sheep, was at 3 in the morning.

Ivy awakened me with a phone call, saying she needed help with a newly born lamb.  I scrambled out of my warm bed, dressed, and trudged through the snow to the barn.

Careful to insert the tube down the correct side of the lamb's throat, I eased it into what I hoped was its little stomach.  If you do it wrong, the lamb ends up getting its lungs full of milk and then suffocates.

Ivy poured warm milk down the tube, filling that little lambs belly.  Before long, it was trying to stand up and take on the world.

 

I love the farm and all its challenges, even though they can be both extremes of heart wrenching and heart warming.  I can hardly wait to be raising sheep or goats for myself!

Allison's Lesson

Through my growing up years, back in Illinois, we always raised our own chickens for the freezer.

Allison, my wife, never had the luxury of eating pastured chickens until I raised them for us last year.  So, she learned this lesson the hard way when we went to Ryan's Hangar, in Huron, last month with the company I work for.

Since my boss was paying, I took full advantage and ordered Alaskan King Crab Legs.  A very tasty dish if you ask me.

Allison decided that Parmesan Chicken was the dish she wanted.

What she learned:  Don't order chicken anywhere unless it has been raised similarly to the way I raise it.

Her $18 meal was a huge disappointment, and that's what happens when you become accustomed to good meat.

I'm thinking I need to contact Ryan's Hangar Restaurant to see if they're interested in serving high quality chicken to match their high quality prices.

The Easiest Way to 10-Piece a Whole Chicken

Here's a few quick tips before you start cutting!

  1. Wiggle the bones to find the joints.
  2. Cut at the joints, and look for white cartilage to know you're cutting the right spot.
  3. Jump in and make your cuts boldly, you'll soon learn the perfect places to cut

Side Note: These instructions work very similarly with turkey too!

Rich Flavor is Indicative of What?

Recently I read an article by Allan Nation on the merits of tasty flavor in food.

Basically, the take away is this: The better it tastes, the better it is for you.

Oh Yeah?! What about Doritos and donuts?!

Let me explain the variables affecting the above statement.

 

Common Additives in Food

These days, we are exposed to vast quantities of bland foods that really are not appealing.  Producers solve this issue be adding flavors.  

Natural and artificial flavors are common ingredients and can be a mixture of 50 to 100 different flavor enhancing chemicals.

The other ingredient commonly used to improve taste is a sweetener. I have read somewhere in my life that sugar is 10 times more addictive than cocaine.

Our bodies become addicted and accustomed to both the flavors and sweeteners.  This throws off our ability to taste and appreciate what is good and wholesome for us.

 

The Good News

There is food in the world that actually tastes good without adding anything.

Brining, to add moisture and flavor to a pork chop, isn't necessary when the pig got to dig in the dirt and eat anything it wanted in the pasture.  

You don't have to cover my chicken in BBQ sauce to make the meat taste wonderful.

My turkey has moist flavorful meat if you just throw it in the oven, roast it to 165 degrees, and add a little salt.

To taste for yourself the quality in a pasture raised chicken, Email Me and make your order for my spring batch!

 

Conclusion

The better it tastes, the better it is for you.

When all additives are not added, how does the meat you eat taste?  If it's tender, juicy, and flavorful, then I would generally guess that it's good and healthy.

Pure Maple Syrup

Pure maple syrup is made by tapping maple trees of at least 40 years of age.  The sap collected is then boiled down to make one of my favorite sweeteners ever.  It takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.

Spring time is the season for collecting sap.  Freezing temperatures of the night and the thawing temperatures of the day, are what stimulate the sap to flow up and down the tree and make it available for harvesting.

I get maple syrup from a friend of my family, by the name of Gary, over in Wisconsin.  This is absolutely the best source of maple syrup you will be able to find in the area.  

I have maple syrup on hand for $16/qt.  However, if you pre-order and pre-pay before I bring in another shipment, I can sell it to you for $15/qt.

Finally, A Day to Relax

Not long into December, I lost my construction job due to a slow winter ahead.  Thankfully, my prayers were answered, and within a week I had a new one.

I've been working with Gleeson Constructors and Engineers for just over a month now, finishing the addition to Dakota Provisions' refrigerated warehouse in Huron.  I love my job, I enjoy being with my co-workers, I only have a 20 minute drive every day, I've been working long hours at better pay/hour, etc...  

Also, I sold my truck and was able to pay off the last of my debt on it, besides putting a healthy chunk in the savings account.  Allison and I are hoping and scheming to have all of our debt paid off this year!

One other thing I'm excited about is that we may be able to afford some poultry processing equipment this spring.  Most specifically a plucker, but perhaps a temperature controlled scalder too.  These additions will be absolute dynamite when it comes to slaughter day for our birds.

I'm looking forward to ordering chicks this spring, I love raising those little puffballs.

Remember, this year I will only have chickens and turkeys available if you pre-order them, and I must have $2/bird deposit before I can start raising your order.  So, please be looking ahead to see what your poultry needs are for the coming year!

Have a great week, spring is just around the corner!

 

Turkey Experiment Conclusions

Unfortunately, I did not come up with drastically differing numbers all in my favor.

However, these two birds are very different.  One thing is for certain, variances in quality are significant even between plants/animals of the same breed.  I strongly advise any who are interested in healthy food, to find out the specific methods used in raising and harvesting.

 

Raising Methods

Wal-mart's turkey was raised in confinement with thousands of other turkeys (A stress factor as flocks of over 300 are beyond their capability to happily socialize with).  It was solely fed finely ground feed, so that supplying grit (small rocks for grinding food in the gizzard) was unnecessary.  Their turkey never roamed outside from time of hatch to time of harvest.  When harvested, they injected a "solution" that made up close to 10% of the carcass weight, and had a body cavity full of ice.

The Poultry Guy's turkey was raised indoors for the first month to protect it while it was too delicate for the outdoors.  After that, it and its 49 flock members lived outside.  I fed it the same finely ground feed along with whole grains, and it ate multitudes of grasshoppers, crickets, alfalfa leaves, blades of grass, fallen apples, and anything else it could find.

Both birds were the large white production turkeys.

 

Cooking Method

I simply put these turkeys in the oven at 350 degrees and roasted them.  I did not baste them, brine them, or season them in any way.  I brought them up to the same internal temperature and removed them from the oven.

I waited until they were cool before de-boning and weighing.

 

Eating Quality

My turkey absolutely dominated when it came to flavor, texture, and moisture.  I had never compared any of my poultry side by side with an average commercial bird, and was not aware of the extreme difference between them until now.  

I found Wal-mart's turkey to be dry and hard to swallow, even in soup where it was surrounded in broth.  Quite unpalatable in comparison to mine.

 

Post Cooking Weights

My turkey's carcass weight was 15.75 lbs, theirs was 15.63 lbs.

The cooked meat alone came in at 5.5 lbs per bird

My bird had 1.38 lbs of giblets theirs had .75 lbs.

My bird was 43.68% cooked meat and raw giblets, theirs was 39.99%

My turkey's price per pound of cooked meat and raw giblets was $6.30/lb, theirs was $3.20/lb

 

Conclusions

My turkey is 1.97 times the price of theirs.  This is the result of higher labor costs in raising my turkeys, and less harvesting efficiency.  In our area, high quality meat cannot be found for low prices.  

"You get what you pay for."