Category Archives: Homesteading

If it has to do with homesteading, and I’ve written about it, you can find it here. (minus preparing food, that gets in own category!!

Continued Establishment

This past weekend was packed with planting trees, planting bushes, moving our turkeys out of their brooder, a surprise birthday party for my Mother-in-Law and Mothers day.

It was a good, good weekend.

Turkeys

Let’s start with the turkeys.  We have two white broad breasted turkeys we bought from Meyers Hatchery.  We brooded them until they were feathered out (when all of their down turns to feathers).

The gobblers in their brooder

Yesterday, Chris built a three sided lean-to for their protection out of scrap left on the property by the last owner, and we moved the turkeys outside into the electro-netting.  Electro-netting is a flexible fence that can be easily electrified to keep out predators such as raccoons, fox, and coyotes.

Now, if you are a fox, raccoon or coyote, I’d appreciate you stop reading.  The details I am about to provide will lead to heartache for me and dinner for you.  So as a favor, please stop.

In our move, we seemed to have misplaced our fence energizer.

This means that during the night, the only thing that is standing between predators and  our little turkeys is a sheet of old plywood haphazardly placed in front of their three sided coop.  We now have sitting ducks, or more correctly, sitting turkeys.  Being so small makes them extra vulnerable.  ***UPDATE*** while I was writing this post, Chris created a door.  Our Turkeys are now safe.

Aside from predator fears (which are now allayed), watching them running around and experience the grass between the clawed toes was so much fun to watch.  They are now hanging out in their lean-to.

Turkeys relaxing in their coop. Fresh water, fresh greens, fresh air. Turkey-ing it up.

The coop was made of trash the previous owner left behind. No trip to the hardware store needed!

Trees/Perennials

We are still filling in our food forest landscape with trees.  We received another Plum, a Golden Delicious and another paw paw.  We planted the paw paw and the Golden Delicious in our backyard orchard, and we added the plum to the front yard orchard.  (as we’re keeping track of cost, each tree cost $18.16, but we already accounted for the paw paw, so let’s add another $36.32 (2 x $18.16) to our overall bill.

We decided to put our fruit trees in two concentrated areas.  This will allow to care for and harvest a bit easier.  We should also be able to fence off and fend of any deer that may think they want our trees or fruits as a nice snack.

Blueberries:

My in-laws gifted us with two blueberry bushes.  What a fantastic present!!  They are large and beautiful.  One was a “Blue Crop” and the other is “Patriot “.

Blueberry plant that was gifted to us is ripening. YUM!

We are planting the blueberries on the north and west side of the strawberry patch. This will allow for the strawberries to soak up all the morning sun, but be shielded from the afternoon sun.  Both strawberries and blueberries like acidic soil, so these berries are happy to be together.

More of What We’ve Planted

We are working to invest in perennials on our property.

In our Stark Brothers order, which included Strawberries, we also bought oodles of other plants.  Including:

  • 1 Bare-root Sugar Maple
    • Why: This is a hard wood tree.  It doesn’t really have a lot of food value, unless we decide to tap for maple syrup (which I know nothing about).  It’s beautiful in Fall and helps to create a diverse environment, as well as provide habitat for whatever creatures.
    • Where: We planted this in our front yard.  Our driveway is pretty long, but you can still see the house from the street, and the street from the yard.  I would like to feel like I live in the middle of a forest. How do you do that?  By reforesting, of course!
    • Cost: $26.99

Sugar Maple

After being planted for about 2 weeks, the leaves are starting to come forth.

  • 2 Elderberries (Adams and York)
    • Why: I planted these are the old house, and had great success with them.  They turn into bushy plants with white flowers and medicinal berries.  The birds love it.  I plan to add the other two cultivars Stark Brothers has available.  I couldn’t find any real difference between the York and the Adams.  I’m not really sure what the difference is, aside from the name.
    • Where:  I planted this out back of our porch.  We have a beautiful view of a valley, but I don’t really get to see the little song birds flit around.  I hope that by giving the birds a place to congregate, I can see them play from my kitchen table.
    • Cost: $8.99 and $11.99 for a total of $20.89Image may contain: cloud, sky, plant, tree, outdoor and nature
  • Chicago Hardy Fig
    • Why: Because, YUM! We planted this at our old house and hand a harvest of 5 figs the first year, and over 50 by year 3.  Fresh figs in a store cost about $1/piece, so this tree paid for itself, quickly!
    • Where: I planted this between the two elderberries.  A nice little place for the birds.  The birds left the figs alone at the old house.  Let’s hope they do the same here!
    • Cost: $21.99
  • Hall’s Hardy Almond
    • Why: this is starting to sound like I’m on repeat,  but it’s true! We had this tree at the old house, and it did really well. It didn’t bear fruit (nuts, actually) while we lived there, but the flowers were beautiful.  Chris and I drove past the old house, and saw the Almond Tree in full bloom.  I went home and ordered this.
    • Where: Out front of the house
    • Cost: $29.99
  • Paw-Paw (Pennsylvania and Seedling)
    • Why: I want to taste a Paw-Paw!  And Stark Brothers didn’t have many left.  It takes 7 years for a tree to bear fruit, so we wanted to get these in the ground ASAP.  We bought 2 Pennsylvania cultivars and 1 seedling.  The seedling will work as a pollinator for the Pennsylvania.  We will continue to add varieties as time goes by.
    • Where: We are starting a small orchard so that we can effectively fence this off from deer pressure, if that becomes a problems.  While it’s good to have similar species spread out to avoid a total wipe out due to disease or pest infestation, having similar plants with similar needs together allows for easier care and harvesting.  This is an area where I’m stepping away from a Permaculture ideal to move towards my own simplicity.
    • Cost: 2 Pennsylvania Golden Paw Paw (2 at $18.16) and a Seedling ($26.99) for a total of $63.31
  • Asparagus (Purple Passion from Stark Brothers and Jersey Knight from a local nursery)
    • Why: this is really simple.  it’s because I love asparagus and because I like to try new things.  So purple asparagus.  SURE! I bought the Jersey Knight Asparagus because that’s what the store had.  The crown were a little sad, but I was able to plant six crown total. The Jersey Knight gives good yields and is heat and cold tolerant.
    • Where: In our asparagus bed.  We have it heavily mulched with wood chips.
    • Cost: Purple Aspargus ($14.99 (better qulaity and more crowns)), Jersey Knight ($5.99) for a total of $20.98
  • Beauregard Sweet Potato (not perennial, but I bought this from Stark Brothers)
    • Why: Sweet potatoes are amazing and super healthy.  See my post here.  Clearly I’ve had them before.
    • Where: They came super early and cannot be planted until the ground has warmed up.  Probably June.  I’m not sure where their final place will be.  To store them until planting, I put them in a quart Mason Jar.  The spruced right up, and have roots that are starting to sprout.  We’ll see how it turns out when we actually plant them.
    • Cost: $31.99 for 25 slips

Sweet potato slips biding time until it’s warm enough to plant them in the ground.

  • Bubblegum Plum
    • Why: I like Plums, and the name!!!  I have another plum tree ordered as a pollinator.  It should be here next week.  At that time, I’ll update you!
    • Where: In front of our home.  It seems to be doing well.
    • Cost: $29.99

So far, we’re really enjoying building our food forest. Its been rather expensive thus far, but we only have to plant these trees once, and we should get to harvest from them for years.  Perennials are also better for your environment, as it is a steadfast habitat for critters in the soil and above.

 

Strawberries of 2017

When we moved into our cottage (aside: Yes, I want to call this a cottage.  It is 1200 square feet with two bedrooms, one bath and NO STORAGE), I wanted to focus on the inside of the home and really make it ours.

In our old house, we did NOTHING inside and spent hundreds of hours installing chicken coops, chicken runs, turkey coups, gardens and trees. When we got ready to sell, we painted, installed new carpets, and made the inside shine.  I decided the new cottage would be different.  We would put our mark on the inside of the cottage.  After all, it’s on the inside that counts, right?

And we did.

Kind of.

We painted everything in the cottage except for the bedrooms.  And it looked great. But it’s been almost five months, and the bedrooms have yet to be painted. And then we stopped.

Now, I have 22 chickens ordered, two turkeys in the brooder and various things planted and planned to be planted outside.  So you can see I didn’t quite learn my lesson.  But the soil calls me,  having a part in creating my own food is so wonderful, and helps to make me feel connected to the real world around me.  I also feel like it’s making my place in space a little bit better and healthier, as far as the environment and soil is concerned.

For my record, as well as (possibly / hopefully) your enjoyment, I’ve outlined what, where, why, and the cost of what I planted. As I will being detailing our adventure thoroughly, this will be a series of posts.  Starting with our Strawberries.

When:

We  planted these on April 29 and 30.

Where:

I used the garden bed that was established by the previous owner to plant strawberries.  This bed is optimally placed.  It has perfect Southern and Eastern exposure and is shaded from the afternoon sunshine.

I have heavily mulched the bed with straw and wood chips.

 

75 strawberry plants of three different varieties: Sparkle (25) , Honeoye (25) and Ozark (25).  These came in the “All summer long” variety pack from Stark Brothers.

I love Stark Brothers for two big reasons.  The first reason is that they have the BEST descriptions. I’ve done research on certain varieties that I’ve found on other website and local garden centers.  I’ve found that the Google machine seems to send me to Stark Brothers page first. Secondly, I have an account on Stark Brothers.  This keeps track of what I bought and when. When deciding what to buy, I was able to access my account and see what I planted at the old house.

Back to the planted strawberries.

Cost:

I chose the “All Summer Long” package because it was on sale.  And I thought it would be nice to have strawberries all summer long.  I bought 75 bare-root plants for $18.16.  This was part of their anniversary sale and they were founded in $18.16.  If I would have bought each variety by itself, each order of 25 bare root plants would have cost $14.99 for a total cost of $44.97.  My savings: $26.81.

What:

The first variety I planted was Sparkle, a June Bearer.  Per Stark Brothers’ website:

Shining taste and appearance. Medium-sized fruit has outstanding flavor whether they’re enjoyed fresh, frozen, or in preserves. Plant are productive and easy to grow, bearing reliable crops of deep red berries even in northern gardens. Escapes frost injury. Cold-hardy. Ripens in late June. Self-pollinating.

Sparkle Strawberry

After that I planted Honeoye, another June Bearer:

A hardy, consistent producer. This vigorous plant bears crops reliably, with good runner production. The strawberries are delicious fresh, frozen, or in jams and wines. Cold hardy. Ripens in June. Self-pollinating. A licensed variety of Cornell University.

Honeoye Strawberry June Bearer

And finally, my “everbearing” variety, the Ozark Beauty:

Enjoy fruit and a protective ground cover. In addition to keeping weeds at bay, this everbearer produces wave after wave of sweet, delicious, scarlet-red strawberries. In our test plots, this is one of the hardiest, most vigorous, heaviest-producing everbearing strawberries. Cold hardy. Ripens in early summer and continues to fruit until first frost. Self-pollinating.

Ozark Beauty Strawberry

Why?

So, uh, have you tasted a strawberry?  Well, they are delicious, especially eaten directly from the plant, slightly warmed from the sun.  YUM!

I’m also planning on making Jam from it for my kid’s peanut butter and jelly.

How are they doing so far?

It has been just under a week since we planted the strawberries, and I think they are doing pretty well.  We had almost a full day of perfect rain for the garden.  That light rain that soaks deep into the ground an nourishes the root systems of plants.  Our strawberries have turned from brown to vibrant green.  I think they are settling in quite nicely.

 

 

Our New Place in Space (and other Updates)

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned.  It has been over one year since I have posted.

Here’s what’s going on in my world:

We recently purchased a new property.  It is lovely.

  • 4 acres
  • Flat (oh, I don’t have to contend with a hill when making design plans!)
  • Beautiful View
  • Cute, small, simple house

Did I mention the view?

Okay, I guess you have to see it!

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You can see three miles into the distance.  And when fireworks go off in the valley, you can see those!

I know in a past post, I declared that I was D-O-N-E with all this DIY.  Well, in order to sell the house, we needed to rip out the garden.  I also went all-in on work.

Well, all work and no play makes Julia a dull girl.

I missed getting my hands dirty.  I missed growing my own food.  One full season away from anything agricultural showed me that.

And now, I’m working on cultivating this piece of flat land.  And I’m doing it more simply, and I’m not trying to do it all.  All at once. or All by myself.

I am doing this one step at a time.  I’m using some more conventional methods.  And my husband is walking arm and arm with me.

I’m sharing this journey so that I have an online record of where the property and our family has been, I want to see where we end up.  And I’d like you to join me!

I’m also intending to keep track of yields and what, when and where we’ve planted things, along the the results.

Turkeys!!!!

In previous posts, I briefly mentioned the fact that I we have turkeys on our homestead this year: (Posts: First Day of Meat Chickens, I Get To…).

Why did you get Turkeys?

Two reasons: Fun and Yum.  Or Yum and Fun.  Either way, for eating and entertainment.  Those are generally the two reasons anything (other than dogs) come to live on our patch of land.

The more I can grow from my land the better.  I want to use the land, and by using it responsibly, we help make the land more healthy.

Another reason I actually got turkeys is because when I did a quick search of Craigslist, a  woman was selling some day old chicks and some turkeys.  I was in her general vicinity to pick up our meat chicks, so I stopped by, and brought home to turkey poults.  I believe they were 2 to 5 days old at the time.

What Kind of Turkeys did you get?

I don’t know.  I bought them from someone I found on Craigslist.  I really liked her facility, and I will definitely buy from her next year.  I will probably also buy my laying hens from here on out as well.

One of the turkeys walking around outside of the chicken paddy wagon.

One of the turkeys walking around outside of the chicken paddy wagon.  You can see the grass is pretty beat up.  That’s where the wagon was the day before.

I can’t remember the exact breed.  It is either a bronze or a broad breasted bronze.  The broad breasted will fill out most like the grocery store turkeys.  The bronze is a little smaller.  I’m not sure which one it is.  And quite frankly, with my limited turkey experience, I’m not sure I’ll be able to tell by turkey processing time.

How do you raise Turkeys?

I put the turkeys in the brooder right along with the chicks. Most of the literature instructs keeping turkey poults and chicks separate.  I decided to ignore that.  The reasons sited to keep them separated is due to a disease called blackhead (a parasitic disease) and the large turkeys may injure the smaller chickens.

Young Turkey Poult in the brooder

Young Turkey Poult in the brooder

I had six meat chicks and those two turkeys in my first round of brooding for the year.  I cleaned the brooder daily and the flock was small.  This generally stops any disease problems.   A lot of problems with disease is due to overcrowding of animals – no matter what the species.  Also, the smaller flock allowed all critters to have plenty of room to spread out.  I had no problem with getting the chicks up to butchering weight.

I moved the turkeys outside into the chicken paddy wagon (chicken tractor) with the meat chickens at about 3 to 4 weeks old.  The chicken paddy wagon moves daily, so the chickens and the turkeys get fresh greens.  My original plan was to move the turkeys in with the laying hens at the time the meat chickens met their last day.

This did not happen.

Turkeys don’t move quickly.  And when I was moving the chicken paddy wagon one morning, one of the turkeys got his foot stuck under one of the runners.  He either sprained or broke his foot.  I thought I would have to put him down.  But he rebounded, and he’s almost 100% healed now.

But being that he was injured, I did not want to put him in a new flock.  He would probably be bullied to death.

So at this point, the turkeys are still in the chicken paddy wagon.  While not ideal, it is not forever.

According to my reading, the space needed in a turkey tractor for happy turkeys is 12 feet by 12 feet for 24 turkeys.  This works out to about six square feet per turkey.  Their current space is 10 feet by 4 feet.  So our turkeys get 20 square feet per turkey.  So they should be pretty happy.

The chicken paddy wagon is moved daily for fresh green for our gobblers.

The chicken paddy wagon is moved daily for fresh green for our gobblers.

They look pretty happy.

They act pretty happy.

My goal is to provide a happy life for them  (and all of my critters).

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I will be moving them to an open paddock in a week and a half after I process my second batch of meat birds.

What do they eat?

They began eating chick starter.  I fed them exactly what I fed my meat birds, and I still do.  But as turkeys age, their protein requirements decrease.  In the first seven weeks of life, their protein in take should be 26% to 30% of their diet. And then from 7 to 14 weeks of age, the require only 16% to 24% protein. After that, they thrive on feed that is 14% to 16% of their diet.

Our turkeys have access to fresh grass and a new insects everyday.  They go wild when I move the tractor, and seem to prefer eating the white clover.  (Oh, how I love white clover, almost as much as I love dandelions).

White clover also known as Turkey Candy

White clover also known as Turkey Candy

Costs

So far the costs have been low.  As I’ve had the turkeys mixed with the chickens, I can’t pinpoint how much they ate versus how much the chickens are consuming.  I am certain that I could buy a chemical laden turkey in the grocery store for less than my costs to raise these guys.  But there is a peace that comes with raising your own food.  I know my turkeys are having a good life, and living the way a turkey should.  I also get a lot of entertainment raising them.

So basically, my hobby produces awesome food.  Sign me up!

Overall

Overall, I love raising the turkeys.  They are hilarious and look like little dinosaurs.  Even more than the chickens.  I love their gobbles, and they seem to have so much more personality.  It’s also  neat to have wild turkeys in the area.

Wild Turkey with her two babies

Wild Turkey with her two babies

I feel like the turkeys are meant to be on this land.  I will continue to have turkeys well into the future.  In fact, I believe I will expand my flock next year, and sell a few extra turkeys for Thanksgiving meals.

Always an adventure, just out my backdoor!

I Get To…

I woke up at 4:30 this morning.  In order to take care of all of our animals and get out the door in time for work, it’s essential.

4:30 am is early.  It can be hard to do.

When I told myself I HAVE to get up to take care of these chores, it was difficult to get out of bed.

But then I changed the conversation I have with myself.

I decided I GET to take care of my critters.  My turkeys, my egg chickens and my meat birds.

I’ve had agrarian dreams for as long as I can remember.  I primarily wanted egg laying chickens.  I thought my homesteading yearnings would be quenched by having a few chickens running around.

Not so much.  We started off with six hens.  Then we added more chickens, and now we have 17 laying hens and one rooster to watch over them.

This year, I got to add two turkeys and chickens raised for meat.

My garden is huge and we got our first plum from our plum tree.

All of this takes a lot of work.  And in order to balance this, my work life and time with my family, I have to get up at 4:30 am.  (and having an amazing husband helps!)

But the reality is that waking up at 4:30 in the morning is what living my dream looks like right now.

So it’s really wonderful that I have these chores to do.  I love them, and I love having my animals.  I love providing a good life for them and eating off of our land.

I move differently throughout the morning when I realized that I get to do these chores.  When I “have to” do those chores, I trudged.  I was bleary eyed.  But changing “have to” to “get to”, I look forward to getting out of bed and seeing my chickens and turkeys.

So getting out of bed super early is a luxury for me.  So while I may be tired, and sleeping in sounds wonderful, the payoff of homesteading is worth it for me.

I also get to share this with you.

So thank you for reading and sharing in my journey.

Meat Birds – 3 Weeks Old

Time is flying.  Our meat birds are not.

All is still going well, and our routine remains the same with them.  We empty the brooder of all of the dirty pine shavings, replace with new, fill up water and food.  Done.

Except, they have been knocking down their feeder and waterer a lot, so I have ordered a new feeder and waterer off of Amazon so that we can hang it from the ceiling.

I ordered two of these feeders:

This feeder holds 3 pounds of feed, and should last a little longer.  The fact that I can hang it up should prevent and spillage of food.  I ordered one for the brooder inside and one for the Chicken Paddy Wagon outside.

I also ordered one:

I already have one outside, and I only need one inside.  It is only 5 quarts.  This seems to be a complaint for many, but I think having a little less water is good.  That way, you clean it every time you change it.  This should prevent it from getting too yucky.

Also, I’m only raising 10 baby chicks at a time.  If I was raising more, I would want larger food and water containers.

I will let you know my impression of these purchases once I use them for a bit.

Our chicks are feathering out nicely.  Their feathers are coming in on their wings, and now on their tail.

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We also bought 10 “Miscellaneous” chicks.  We got 3 black ones, 3 light colored chicks with stripes and 3 orange-brown ones.  The orange brown chicks are about 2/3 the size of the other chicks.  I have no clue what kind of breeds they are, but they are all clearly different. The size difference is quite obvious in real life, but a little more difficult to capture in a picture.IMG_0515

Raising meat birds is so much fun.  I think this is something we will continue doing in the future.   I’m excited (kind of) about tasting these guys.

3 week old Chicks-progress

The journey continues…

Weekly Video:

 

Meat Chickens – Week Two

Our chickens are two weeks old!!!  Time is flying.

All ten chicks are still in good health.

What’s Changed?

I no longer have to do the daily Pasty Butt check.  But I do shovel out the brooder daily, and put in new pine shavings.

We have also removed the heat lamp, since they no longer need it.  We are in the beginning of Summer, so the weather is warmer.  When removing the heat source, observe the chicks to see if they start huddling together to gather heat, or if they act normally.  The types of chicks and the current weather make a huge difference as to the exact time to remove the heater.  That’s why it is so important to observe.

And finally, we have to do daily cleaning of the brooder.  This means we scoop out most of the (poopy) pine shavings and replace it with fresh pine shavings.  I put the used pine shavings around my blueberry bushes.  They love the acidity of the pine.

The chicks are quickly feathering out, and I think they will be ready to move to the chicken paddy wagon (outside) next week, or the week after.  Again, it’s all about observation.

Progress Pictures:

Here is a the progression of the birds aging:

From Left to Right: 1 Day Old, 1 week old, 2 weeks old

From Left to Right: 1 Day Old, 1 week old, 2 weeks old

Previous Meat Bird Posts:

Weekly Video:

Meat Chickens – One Week Old

Our meat birds are celebrating their one week birthday.  It has been a relatively easy week.

Notice the chicks are starting to feather out.  They start this at the tips of their wings.

Notice the chicks are starting to feather out. They start this at the tips of their wings.

The how-to’s of their first week of life is pretty easy, and not very time consuming.

What is the daily chores for week old chicks?

I check on the boys (as we ordered cockerels, all male) at least once a day, and usually twice a day.

Once a day I pick up each chick to check for Pasty Butt.  Pasty Butt is when the chick’s back end (poo hole?) is clogged with poo.  This can actually kill them.  So as soon as you find it, take a warm, wet rag, sponge or paper towel and gently clean it.

The bummer about this condition is that if your bird gets pasty butt once, they are likely to get it again.  BUT it’s super easy to take care of.

I check to make sure that they have plenty of fresh drinking water and that their food is full.

The chicks eating their feed.

The chicks eating their feed.

Then, I add in some more pine shavings to keep everything clean and smelling fresh.

Why Pine Shavings?

I like pine shaving over other bedding for the brooder because the high acid of the pine neutralizes the smell.  Also, the chicken droppings are high in nitrogen, while wood is high in carbon.  This makes the perfect combo for fertilizing your plants when it’s time to clean out the brooder.  While the  nitrogen in the manure is good for plants, it can be a little too much in the fresh poo and burn the plants.

Be Careful NOT to use:

  • Cedar Shavings – the oils from this will hurt the chicks lungs.  Avoid this throughout the chickens entire life span.
  • Newspapers – the newspapers create a slippery base.  Chicks also have a natural desire to scratch and dig.  Please let your chicken express his chicken-ness, and give him something to dig in.

So far, so good.

It’s been amazing to watch these guys grow.  They have two or three more weeks in the brooder and then we’ll be moving them out to the chicken paddy wagon.

Left: Chick One Day Old Right: Chick One Week Old

Left: Chick One Day Old
Right: Chick One Week Old

Here’s this week’s video:

Our New Adventure – Day 1, Batch 2

As a family, we want to make sure we source our meat from local, humane and sustainable resources.  Sometimes we aren’t successful, but over 95% of the time we are.  We have a great resource for chicken, but we have agrarian dreams and we wanted to raise our own.  Okay, mostly, have agrarian dreams and a very supportive husband.

Our First Batch

So our newest adventure is raising meat birds, particularly chickens.  We started our first batch five weeks ago, and we got our second batch of ten chicks last night.  We start them in our homemade brooder, where they live for three to four weeks.  You can read about this DIY brooder here.

We ordered six cockerels (male chicks) for our first batch.  I also picked up two turkey poults at that time, one male and one female, from a different local farmer.  This first batch of chicken should be ready to be processed (a nice way to say butchered) in about three weeks time.  The turkeys will take about six months and should be ready around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Six chicks and two bronze Turkeys.  Another agrarian adventure begins!

Six chicks and two bronze Turkeys. Another agrarian adventure begins!

 

I’ve read that we should raise the turkeys away from the chickens, and I’ve read it doesn’t matter.  Having the turkeys and chickens together so far seems to working out wonderfully.

Our Second Batch

We ordered 10 chicks for our second batch.  That seems like the ideal amount for the Chicken Paddy Wagon.  The Chicken Paddy Wagon is a 8 foot by 4 foot shelter that we move daily.  This is the Joel Salatin Method.  Everyday, we move this enclosure to a new section of grass.  We do this so:

We got a mixed batch of broilers.  Here they are:

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And a video describing their second day:

Types of Birds

We order “broiler” chickens from a local hatchery.  They are a mix of large bodied heritage breeds that will have a decent amount of meat in a little bit of time.

We did not choose to use the “Cornish Cross” chickens.  Those birds come to full maturity at 6 weeks. If they are not processed by about 8 weeks, they start to die from enlarged hearts, or their legs collapse beneath them from the heavy body weight.  These Cornish Crosses get so large their feathers do not cover their body.  From what I’ve read, these fraken-chickens are not interested in eating bugs or grass.  Essentially, they have lost the “chicken-ness” of being a chicken.  This seems highly unnatural to me.   And a lot of that extra nutrient which pastured poultry is known for comes from the birds eating bugs and grass.

That being said, I think I will experiment and buy a few Cornish Crosses in the future.  I have had a lot of experiments go differently than what I read.  My plants and animals have not read the same resources I have.  So I would like to see the results given our inputs.

Processing the Birds

We have processed birds here before.  We did that last fall when we found that we had 4 roosters, and we ordered all hens.  It’s not a great idea to have that many roosters.  It’s really rough on the hens, and the roosters can fight with each other.  So we had to cull 3 roosters.  (Culling is when you process chickens due to excess roosters or if they have lived past their laying prime.)

Costs

I am also keeping a running tally of the costs associated with raising meat birds.  I saw a whole organic chicken for sale at the grocery store for under $8.00.  I’m pretty sure our birds are going to cost more than that.  However, organic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Organic is better than conventional, but it stinks compared to pastured.  These organic birds that you can buy at a store just eat organic food.  They probably still live inside of large over crowed chicken houses with little to no ventilation.  The birds are probably not eating any bugs, digging in dirt, or eating any grass or weed seeds.

We are feeding our birds 100% organic feed while they have access to the outdoors during the last half of their life.  We want our chickens to be happy and to live healthy lives.

So join me on our journey with meat birds from day one to our table.

 

Link to the water and feeder for your Brooder:

Baby Chick Feeder Bottom

Water Bottom

Bottle for Food and Water