As usual, there are a lot of things going on at the farm, so here’s an update!
About 3 weeks ago I wrote about our chicken processing experience, if you missed it, click here. Well… we ordered 50 more! They arrived just over 2 weeks ago and are doing really well. The hatchery sent us 51; we lost two, so we currently have 49. They are growing quickly in our new outdoor brooder (yay! no nasty smells in the house!). In the next week or so, depending on weather, they will be moved to our pasture in a movable chicken tractor. We ordered half Cornish cross, which is the breed we raised last time. We also wanted to try the Red Broiler (also called Freedom Ranger, Red Ranger, etc.), so we ordered some of these as well, which made up the other half of the batch. The Red Broilers take a few more weeks to grow out to butcher size, but we are excited to compare the two breeds side by side. We will have about half of them ready mid-November. If you are interested in a farm-grown, pasture-raised, organic-fed whole chicken, let me know and I can give you more details.
Our laying hens are doing great. Our young chicks from earlier this year are all grown up now, and most have started laying eggs! So we have lots of eggs now, all different shapes, sizes and colors. If you are interested in some farm-fresh eggs, laid by happy hens that are fed certified organic feed, let me know and I can give you the details.
The turkeys are growing crazy every day! Sometimes I can’t believe how much they grow in one day. We thought we had some commercial Broad-Breasted White turkeys, but turns out they are actually Royal Palm turkeys. Royal Palm turkeys are a heritage breed, so we couldn’t be happier! Unfortunately, since they take longer to reach butcher size, we probably won’t have any ready by Thanksgiving. We might have one or two that reach a bigger size, but might be smaller turkeys, we will see! Fortunately were totally ok with post-Thanksgiving turkeys because we enjoy turkey all year long. :) We are also really enjoying raising them. They make the most beautiful noises. It’s entertaining when they talk back to us, and we especially love when they gobble at us! My favorite thing is how excited they get when we move their turkey tractor forward every other day; they can’t wait to get to the fresh grass!
We grew out our pigs to about 7 months old. We butchered the two pigs ourselves and with the help of a few others about 2 and a half weeks ago. It was a long day, but we learned a lot! And at the end of the day we felt good that we learned a new skill and now have a freezer full of our own farm-raised pork! I made tons of pork stock from some of the left over bone cuts that had little meat on them. I basically used the same process as I did with the chicken stock, just used pork instead. Click here to see how I made homemade chicken stock. So far I have made some crock-pot split pea and ham soup, and some pulled pork, which was hands down the best pulled pork I have ever had. I also made some Italian breaded pork chops last night, yum! Maybe I can put some of these recipes up on the blog soon. We would like to get a few more pigs to grow out in a couple months, so if you are interested in a farm-raised whole or half pig to fill your freezer, let me know and I can give you more details when it gets closer.
Our pumpkins have been doing great! We have already harvested about 10, and have a decent amount still on the vine. Most are smaller pie-type pumpkins, but there are two bigger ones that we plan on carving. I am excited to make, freeze and/or can some pumpkin puree for pumpkin pies, pumpkin bread, and maybe even some pumpkin butter, yum! The corn is getting pretty tall, were hoping it produces in time before our first frost, which is roughly around mid-late November. We have been harvesting sugar snap peas, cow peas, and green beans pretty regularly, which has been great. And just last night I harvested our first ripe tomatoes. Next week I plan on getting some fall/winter greens sown into the garden. Hopefully in the next month or so we will be expanding the garden area… looking forward to that! :)
We added some new goats to the herd. We got another Nubian doe to use as a dairy goat. We named her Nellie; she’s about 11 months old and is supposed to be pregnant, so hopefully she will be kidding in December. Nellie is mostly white with some light brown on her head, and is definitely the sweetest goat we have, we are so excited to have her in our herd now. We also got two Boer goats which are around 5 months old. Boer goats are a meat goat breed, the reason we got them is to grow them out to butcher size, and then put them in the freezer. Of course one of them is turning out to be super friendly and sweet, she follows me around wherever I go and loves being pet. So I think we’re keeping her as an eventual breeder to produce more meat goat offspring for the freezer. The other Boer goat should be at butcher size around 8-9 months old. For those of you that lost me at goat meat, or cringed at the thought, did you know that 75% of the world’s population eats goat meat? It may be kind of taboo in the US, but not for the rest of the world. Here’s a quote from Michigan State University about goat meat: “It is low in fat, cholesterol, calories and saturated fat. In fact, goat meat is over 50 percent lower in fat than our American beef and is about 40 percent lower in saturated fat than chicken – even chicken cooked with the skin off!” Sounds like a good enough reason for me!
Yes sheep! We got a sheep, one random sheep lol. We got this lamb along with the two Boer goats; they came from the same place, and from the same pen. We weren’t planning on getting a lamb, but it was a good deal, and we wanted to see how we liked raising sheep before we get more. She pretty much thinks she’s a goat, and stays with one of the Boer goats 24/7. She has really neat coloring, mostly black with some brown and white. Her breed is Dorper which is a hair sheep. Hair sheep shed their coat and require no sheering, which makes them low maintenance keepers compared to a traditional wool breeds that require sheering. The breed can do better in warmer climates like ours, and is also considered a great meat producer. These aspects made her ideal for us to raise for the freezer. She’s about 5 months old, and will be ready for butcher around 8-9 months old.
Livestock Guardian Dogs:
We got a new livestock guardian dog puppy. The same breeder that we got Cassidy from brought him over to us last week. His name is Hank; he’s almost 9 weeks old and is a Great Pyrenees. He is actually Cassidy’s half-brother; they have different moms, but share the same dad. He is adorable, so fluffy, and already so big. Cassidy loves playing with him, and Hank actually holds his own pretty well with her already, I think he’s going to end up being the more dominant one of the two. Cassidy is doing well; she’s over 6 months old now and is going through another growth spurt. She is very high-energy and social, but when she’s on leash to go down to the pasture with us to care for the turkeys, so gets very serious. Looking forward to watching Hank and Cassidy grow up together and see how the dynamic works out between the two of them.