With 2012 being the first year we raised chickens for meat, we had a huge learning curve on how to butcher our own chickens. With the first spring flock, the butchering process was very slow. It was taking us 30-40 minutes to pluck 1 chicken. We raised 25 more in the fall of 2012. This time the plucking time went much faster. For one, we were more experienced and had learned from our mistakes. We also had a new tool called the Power Plucker.
While researching on the best ways to store our harvested and cured onions, we came across many examples of people using old pantyhose as a way to contain and store onions. The pantyhose allow for good air circulation and keep individual onions from coming into contact with one another.
[Before being stored, onions should be cured in a warm, dry area for 2-3 weeks]
When I started researching information on raising a few growing-finishing pigs, one of the questions I had was how long do I keep them before it’s time to slaughter and butcher. I found that most people keep them until they are around 220-250 lbs. Past this weight it becomes inefficient economically to put on more weight. Continue reading
We recently bought a Little Giant 3 Gallon Plastic Poultry Waterer for our ducks and chickens. It looked like it would be a great waterer for the ducks. It has a deep bottom dish which is great for the ducks to dip and clean their bills in. When I got it home and filled it up, the water just keep pouring out of the bottom hole and overflowing. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. Continue reading
This year we harvested our first garlic on the 5th of June. This is our second season to have a garlic harvest and I couldn’t imagine our home without it. Because of garlic’s flavor and many medicinal benefits (antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, helps prevent heart disease and cancer, etc), we include it in many of our meals.
We are using our 2 hampshire x yorkshire pigs to build and improve soil in areas around the homestead. Pigs are great at clearing a grassy or sod area of vegetation and rooting and tilling the soil. I’ve heard them being described as colonizer livestock, meaning they are good at coming into an area and clearing it for a clean slate or fresh start.
[Once we added an additional panel to the pig tractor, they immediately started grazing and rooting and had the new area cleared in a few days.] Continue reading
[The blue plastic swimming pool in the picture above is the temporary pond for our 2 Indian Runner ducks that also live in the pasture area. We will be digging them a permanent pond at a later date]
We moved the chicks from their indoor brooder in our basement to outdoors at 5 weeks old. After making some repairs to our old chicken coop and putting up the pasture fence, we were finally able to get them out of the house into some fresh air.
The pasture will eventually become more of a forest pasture/garden. It currently has a couple of young apple trees and a couple of mulberry trees. It is about 1700 ft². We still have another area to fence in, that has more mature fruit trees and shrubs. We plan on alternating the laying hens between the 2 areas.
Currently all 19 of our chicks are in our laying hen coop. The coop was built to house about 6 full size hens. We have 9 Black Australorps, 4 Dark Cornishes, 3 Barred Rocks, and 3 Rhode Island Reds. The Dark Cornishes, Barred Rocks, and Rhode Island Reds are going to go into a chicken tractor and will be slaughtered and butchered at 12-14 weeks. Five or 6 of the Black Australorp hens will reside in the laying coop and the other 3 or 4 hens will live in another chicken tractor designed to house laying hens. This tractor will be used to work and build permanent no-till garden areas.
[4 day old ducks]
We moved our fawn runner ducks out to pasture this week. They are 3 weeks old and seem to be ready to handle the outdoor environment. We really needed to move them outdoors considering they were almost taller than the walls of their brooder. Also ducks are very messy with water. We were constantly adding more shaving or changing out the brooder and adding all new shaving because the whole brooder would be wet. Continue reading