Sunday, July 22, 2012

Creating Food

Well, yesterday was their day.  The meatballs, who were large and roundish, were processed.
The total?  82.28 pounds of clean, fresh, chicken.

15 birds in total, gave us an average of 5.49 pounds a bird.  This is higher than our last average of the 13 we did, which were 69.71 pounds, an average of 5.36 pounds a bird.  It doesn't seem like a huge difference until you take into account that there were 2 more birds this time, and that last time we had 7 come out under 5 pounds.  This time we only had 3 come out under 5 pounds.  Yep, 5 pounds is the number I like to see.  Seems like a good one to me.

Pretty damn good.  Wanna see?

Before shrinking the bags.
It was a long day yesterday, but totally worth it.  We got the processing done in 5 1/2 hours, which is much faster than last time--that took about 8 and change and it was 2 fewer birds.  We once again used the Power Plucker on the electric drill, and our biggest challenge was getting the scald water to the right temp and keeping it there.  And the traffic cones?  They were history.  My mother sent me a gift of two beautiful galvanized cones which we used instead.  They were fantastic, and only one bird threatened to flip his way out of them.  They were fighters, these guys.  It's getting interesting what types of gifts I get now.  I got eviscerating knives from my husband at Christmas, and kill cones from my mother.  Hmmm.....  I'm not sure what that says about me.

My husband did try his hand at the processing, but said it was not for him.  And that's ok.  I got pretty fast.  It still is not the most fun I could have, processing birds, but I have to say that more than once I reflected on the fact that I was glad I knew how to--and could--do it.  Honest food created honestly.   It's a good feeling.

All shrunk and ready for the deep freeze.
Overall, this batch was much better than the last.  Even though it was insanely hot, these guys were troopers.  They gained weight like champs and foraged (as was proven by the contents of their gizzards) a lot of grass and greens.  There was very little grain in them, which makes me happy, and I'm wondering if there will be a difference in the taste.  Though meat birds have to be fed to support their insane metabolism, these guys didn't rely on the grain as heavily as the last batch.  That will cause me to order the last batch of birds from the same hatchery.  Birds that can glean from their surroundings are the type of bird I like to see.

And yep, we fed others with this group aside from ourselves.  We are only keeping 6.  9 will be going to new homes to be enjoyed.  Yesterday my husband and I discussed the number for next time.  We'll probably up it to 30 or 35 birds.  We have orders for several already, and since we're done with birds after this batch, we have to make it all the way to May before the next batch would be ready.  That's a long time, so we need to have enough for winter. 

That'll be a two day processing, though.  No way would I do that in a day.  It would be a VERY long one.

Today, because yesterday I created food kind of destructively, I decided to create food constructively.  I canned.

Pickles, peaches, and mock pineapple.

I love that "ting" noise the tops make!!!
Half of the cucumbers came from the garden, the other half from the farmer's market.  The zucchini came out of the garden, too (for the mock pineapple), but the peaches were completely from the farmer's market.  We got no fruit blossoms at all this year--I blame the crappy winter.

It is getting so that I feel like I'm cheating when I go to the farmer's market to buy produce.  All the farms are local, so I feel good about that, but I didn't grow the food, so it feels like I'm cheating.  It's funny how my attitude towards food production has changed so much over the short time.  I never would have batted an eye at buying from the farmer's market before--in fact, I would have patted myself on the back for it.  But now, I feel like a total cheat, even though I'm still doing all the work.  I know, go ahead and roll your eyes.  It's weird.  I can't help it, though.

I wonder if there's farmer therapy somewhere.  Or maybe I should just grow a larger garden.  That might be cheaper in the long run.

Anywho, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  I hope you all had a fantastic weekend!  Enjoy the rest of your day!
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  1. My friend and I processed a number of her young roosters this year. We learned a lot, and are enjoying eating the chickens. One thing that we did have a little trouble with (and some chuckles over!) is that as we packaged them, the legs stuck straight out, making it impossible to use the smaller bags. I did develop a method for forcing the legs to bend, and wrapped with a "tie" of clingwrap, to hold them in place, but we're wondering what caused this. Any thoughts? Thank you!

  2. Brenny--Probably rigor. I know, it's a lovely thought, but that's what comes to mind. Eventually, they come out of it and are moveable again. If they're in rigor when you are bagging them, it may be because the processing is taking too long. Chilling them immediately delays it somewhat as well, we've seen.

  3. Chickens look good! Good for you doing it all and the family helping out!
    Your canned stuff looks good too! I understand about how your attitude changes when you start to grow/raise your own food. I like to raise/grow a lot of ours too, I don't feel too bad when I have to buy it local. We don't have the time or capacity to do it all, although it would be nice!
    Keep it up!!!

  4. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog! It was really great to hear from you!

    I totally understand your change of thinking as you grow more of your own food! It's natural to want to be even more self sufficient. The more you learn, the more you do, and the more you love it. In a nutshell, it's REWARDING!

  5. This will sound weird, coming from a complete stranger on the internet who has been reading your blog for about a year, but I'm proud of you :) You're a great inspiration - especially after your then & now video that you posted - to a young farmer (farmette?) who is just starting out. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us!


  6. So that chicken plucker really works? I have always wondered about them. You should get a video of in next time. I am so proud of you. I keep wondering if I can really accept it like you do. Sometimes I get so mad at the roosters for causing such constant chaos that I think I might just butcher right then and there.
    Awesome canning job! I have never done pickle spears before, but now I am choosing just the right sized cucumbers for the job : ) Thanks for the inspiration - each and every post.

  7. are intense! Congrats on all your yummy chicken! It really is amazing how quickly one can shift from purchasing food to producing food and how that changes your perspective on everything else! We can only grow so much on our little postage stamp, but I already find myself thinking the same things as you at the Farmers Market. And the grocery store? Well, that's another story altogether ;-)

  8. You inspired me this morning to make Mock Pineapple WHO KNEW?! I had never heard of this but what a great thing to use zucchini for! Thanks for the meat chicken story too. I have been thinking about that for some time maybe next year. Heather

  9. I've never made my own dill pickles. I'm planning on making some this with the cukes I'm growing in my green house. Is there a trick to having crispy pickles?

  10. It's a great skill to have - being able to grow and process your own food (animal or vegetable)! I have to say that I am with your husband on the chicken processing though. Not for me. If it came right down to it I think I would be eating a lot of salad.


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