Monday, June 28, 2010

Schedule and Pricing

Ok, it is not an exact schedule quite yet (we are working things out with Troy Bird) but this is what we have coming off the pasture next.

Cornish Cross - Around July 24th $3.95 per pound

White Rocks - Around Aug 11th $4.25 per pound
Corn Cross - Around Aug 11th $3.95 per pound

White Rocks - Around Sept 1st $4.25 per pound
Delawares - Around Sept 1st $4.25 per pound
Red Rangers - Around Sept 1st $4.25 per pound

Email with any questions. The first batch went in about a day so they go fast!

Friday, June 25, 2010

What's coming up next?? A quick update


1. We now have 60 turkeys that are itching to be out on pasture as they keep jumping out of the brooder! They love to chirp really loud when they can't see their friends (even if their friends are right behind them). The first 40 are going out on pasture next Tuesday!

2. We have about 100 cornish cross chickens in the brooders who are almost ready to go out on pasture. They will be on pasture for about 6 weeks before processing.

For your review: Cornish cross are the chickens we eat 99.9% of the time. They are bred to grow fast, so they take about 8 weeks to grow and process. They taste a lot like the chicken you are used to, but are much better fresh and raised on pasture with no antibiotics or hormones. Red rangers also grow pretty fast, but we are expecting them to taste different. All the other breeds we are raising (delawares, white plymouth rock and naked neck) grow much more slowly. They will be slightly smaller at processing time and taste different too.

3. We have 204 new red rangers that are now 1 day old. We picked them up at the post office yesterday. Our post office loves us! Our mail is very loud compared to plain old letters. These new chicks are in the brooders. Red rangers grow quickly (8-10 weeks until processing). They will go out on pasture once they get feathers and can tolerate varying temperatures.


1. We have about 85 cornish cross chickens out on pasture that will likely be processed mid-late July. We also have ~90 white plymouth rock and ~90 delawares on pasture that will be processed at ~6 months of age (in about 1.5-2 months). They have thicker and more colorful feathers than the cornish cross chickens.

2. We just received another electric fence and solar powered battery in the mail for the turkeys that are going out next week.


More chickens and more turkeys. I don't know exactly what because Danny is currently out of town so I'll let you know later. We'll try to post processing dates soon so you can order in advance. I sure appreciate Danny and all his work, because when he's gone I am on chicken duty and baby duty full time, and working part time. It's kind of crazy!

One round done...lots more to go!

Lot's has happened since I last updated this blog. On June 15, we processed our first 40 chickens, and they were all sold by June 17. They went fast! We are now getting contacted by people we don't know, so our email list is quickly expanding. We have a licensed portable processor that was able to come right to the chickens so we didn't even have to transport them. I'll leave out the details of the processing, since it was kind of sad to me. One benefit of being involved in raising animals for meat is that we are really appreciating our food. We appreciate the animals that are raised for our consumption. We hope they live well and natural lives, and are thankful for the circle of life (Lion know the antelopes eat the grass, the lions eat the antelopes, the lions die and become part of the earth).

Here is a picture of Troy Bird, the processor. His name suits him quite well don't you think?

This is Danny selling the first chicken. Jay actually came out to the farm to purchase so his was literally farm to table. Afterwards, Jay said "Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!! I don't know if you've eaten one yet but it was excellent. I give it an A+. It tasted very fresh, clean and juicy. Way to go! Jay"

Many people feel it is so important to KNOW THEIR FARMER. Know how your food is being raised. So, here are some picture of your farmers!

And here is a before and after shot of our first pastured chicken dinner. And we were pleased to notice a big difference in the moistness of the meat. The taste is similar since it's the same breed of chicken most everyone eats. But, we are raising 4 different breeds, so we expect some exciting new tastes with those ones coming up.

Thanks for participating in our adventure!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Some excellent information

Rather than retype this article, I thought you could read it for yourself. It's very well written and includes some great information and recipes for pastured poultry. As you will learn in the article, there is no such thing as 'grass-fed' poultry because chickens and turkeys need more than grass to survive. They need protein.

We look forward to raising grass-fed pork and beef, but this year we're sticking with pastured poultry. This article includes how to get the most out of your whole chicken - 3 meals out of one bird. What a deal!

How do I cook my new chicken?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Coming Tuesday...our first batch

This Tuesday (June 15) we will be processing our first batch of chickens. We have about 40 cornish cross chickens that are old enough to be processed (about 8 weeks). Remember, these are the fast growing chickens, bred to eat. We have a licensed portable chicken processor coming right out to the land to process them on site. They will be packaged on site also. Talk about fresh! Pickup will be all day Wednesday at our house. They will be priced at $3.95 per pound. Most will probably be between three and five pounds. These 40 will go fast, but we have several hundred coming in the future! Thanks for sharing this adventure with us!

Some reasons people buy our chicken:

Local: Knowing who grows/raises your food is so important. You can even come down to the farm for a visit. Buying local keeps your dollars in your community. It saves money in the resources used to transport food across the country and world. It is also reliable because there are very few steps and exchanges to get this food right to your table.

Antibiotic/hormone free: Our chickens are not given any antibiotics or growth hormones. We have telephone access to a poultry nutritionist who has been very helpful in providing natural ways to keep the birds healthy and happy. At this time, we are not yet feeding them organic feed, but we are working towards that and will keep you posted.

Happier animals: Our chickens are given ample space outdoors to run around and do what chickens do. They have access to food and water at all times (chickens can only get up to 20% of their nutrition from eating grass and bugs, so most of it does have to come from feed). They also have access to shelter from rain, wind, and sun. Their shelters are moved daily, and the electric fencing is moved weekly to allow the chickens fresh, clean pastured areas in which to run around. Rotating their living areas helps keep them cleaner and therefore more healthy. The chickens do prefer the sun so we're glad the weather is improving!

Taste: Although this first batch won't taste too different from other chicken (because it's the exact same breed as the chicken we already eat), we hope the freshness will come through in the taste! The breed influences the taste even more than the chicken's diet, so we expect our white plymouth rock, delaware, naked neck, and red range chickens to taste differently. Those will be processed in several months. tell us. We want your feedback!

Stay tuned for some recipes on how to cook whole chicken (at this time we are only selling whole chicken...cut up pieces cost more but if you want it, let us know because we can offer it for the next batch). Thanks!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Thank you, Gracias, Merci, Spaceba!!

There are several people who deserve a shout out and a HUGE thank you from us and our chickens.

1. David and Jill Bell from Bell Organic. Danny met David a couple years ago and has learned a lot from David and his wife Jill. Bell Organic is graciously letting us use about 5 acres of their new growing land this year. They are not using the whole 11 acres and offered the space to us. We could not have done this without them. Bell Organic is a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) with many members. They grow some amazing tasty vegetables, and also offer some local fruit, honey, egg and meat connections through their CSA. Check out their website for more information. THANK YOU DAVID AND JILL!!

(Side note: The land is in Draper and we would love any visitors and any help too. If you're in the mood to work and be entertained by chickens...let us know.)

2. Shawnee's parents, Lynda and Kevin. Kevin helped build the 'chicken chalet' for our laying hens last year. He also helped create the brooders, loaned out his tools and truck - as well as his brains and services. Also, Kevin and Lynda were foster chicken parents when the chicks really needed to be moved out onto pasture, but we hadn't received our solar charger for the electric fence yet. So, about 150 chickens were temporarily 'vacationing' in their back yard for a week until the charger came in. Thanks to them for making sure the chickens had food, water, shelter, and proper burials (for the ones who sadly died in a rainstorm). Thankfully the charger came in and provides sufficient energy to keep the electric fence going without electricity! Solar energy is amazing. THANKS KEVIN & LYNDA!

3. Neighbor Joel. Joel is our official chicken sitter. He tends when we have to leave town. He also helped Danny build one of the shelters, and he and his wife have been very supportive of our new adventure. He is a fun one to bounce ideas off and always good for a laugh. THANK YOU JOEL!

4. Friend Tyler. Since Tyler lives closer to Draper than we do, he has offered to take a couple shifts a week making sure the chickens have food, filling up their water, and surveying for predators (there is a family of foxes that live in the area but so far they haven't been a problem). Tyler has also helped build shelters and provided impromptu tools when needed. I know Danny especially appreciate the company of working with others. Chickens only provide so much conversation you know. THANKS TYLER!

5. I'm sure I will be adding to this list, but thank you to Saffron who patiently watches us work and has learned to fall asleep on a blanket in the dirt instead of her nice soft crib. We love you Saffron!

One more thing: we are getting excited to visit Polyface Farm in Virginia next month. The whole family (Danny, Shawnee, Saffron) is going. Danny gets to attend a 2 day workshop at Polyface Farms and learn from Joel Salatin himself . Joel is featured on the movie Food, Inc. and is also discussed in the book The Omnivore's Dilemma: the Secrets Behind What You Eat by Michael Pollan. We are so excited for this trip and will post about it when we get back. Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Free-range chickens

In April 2009, we started raising egg-laying chicks just for fun and for eggs. In May 2010 we began our adventure of raising meat birds on a much bigger level. We currently have birds at 3 different stages.

Stage 3. We have about 40 cornish-cross chickens which will be ready for processing in about 2 weeks. As I type, they are eating weeds and bugs, giving themselves dirt baths, and sun bathing out on pasture. They are getting big! These chickens are the traditional chicken that we all eat. If you eat chicken, chances are likely you have only ever eaten this breed. They are bred to eat and eat and get big for quick growing and processing. Cornish-cross chickens can eat so much that their bodies outgrow their organs and their legs, making them immobile and likely in pain. We ration their food at weeks 2-4 to prevent that from happening. To us, the words chicken and immobile just don't seem to go together! Our chickens are currently free-ranging on pasture, with access to food, water, and shelter for shade and protection.

Stage 2. We have about 300 white plymouth rock chickens and delawares out on pasture also. These chickens eat and grow more slowly, so they will probably be on pasture for 5-6 months (as opposed to 2-3 months for the cornish cross breed). They will likely be a bit smaller. They are quite active and sadly we have lost some in inclement weather when they were unable to find their shelter. Chickens are amazing, entertaining, and don't seem to retain certain pertinent information- such as 'get under shelter when it's raining'. We too are learning as we go, and we are sad whenever we lose an animal.

Stage 1. We have 100 cornish cross chickens and 60 turkeys (3 different breeds) in brooders (heated shelter for chicks until they grow big enough to be outdoors). Having birds at all stages in the process will allow us to sell meat all through the summer up through Thanksgiving (turkey lurkeys).

Danny has worked hard to build the brooders and the shelters, put up the electric fencing to keep the predators out (like this fox that we spotted the other day on the field), and make sure there is enough food and water every day.

And lastly, we are getting some naked neck chickens (aka turkins) as well as red rangers in the near future. We will try to post a schedule of when the meat will be available. Please be patient as I am just learning how to blog and we are busy starting this adventure!

We will continue to share our education with you as we learn more about free-range poultry and meat. We have learned quite a bit thus far at each stage of the process (pictures are coming). We have not named the chickens because we can't get too attached (and how could we remember 500 names) so we (actually I, Shawnee) have resorted to calling them 'chicken licken' and 'turkey lurkey.' I know, quite original. Please let us know if you or any of your friends would be interested in purchasing one or some for your tastebuds to enjoy! It is so fun to watch the chickens running and jumping around having a happy life before they will be humanely slaughtered - can we put those two words together?? At least they were loved and cared for while they were alive. And...we are learning to really appreciate the process of where our food comes from, and be thankful to our animals for our sustenance. TTFN (that's ta ta for now).

Jumping in with both feet

Danny the chick magnet - he started this whole thing!

We are up and running. Our farm that is...It has been quite an adventure to get here, and I'm sure it will continue. Danny has done a ton of research through reading publications, farming magazines, visiting other local (and not so local) family farms, and we finally realized the next step to our learning would be the doing. We decided to start with free-range pastured poultry and hopefully in the coming years add pork, beef, and perhaps lamb. Much of the desire to begin this adventure was developed through reading authors such as Michael Pollan, Wendell Berry, and watching the documentaries Food, Inc. and Fresh. I must say I was slow to come on board (mostly for stressful personal reasons such as pregnancy) but am now fully behind the idea.

We started our own little farm with 6 egg-laying chicks in Easter 2009. We assimilated 6 more grown chickens over the next 6 months. With each introduction of a new chicken to the group, the ladies have to re-establish the pecking order. Needless to say, the bottom hen is usually happy with new ones, who frequently take her place at the bottom of the order. A few mishaps (dogs) have led to the death of 4 of our hens. Each one was quite sad, so I don't know how we'll deal with raising meat birds! This picture is of our original 6 little chicks. They are now full grown of course. Anyhow, our final number of egg hens is 12, but not all lay eggs yet as some are still teenagers and haven't hit puberty. Once all are laying, we will have white, light brown, dark brown, and chocolate brown eggs. Sadly to say, the hens who laid green eggs were lost in one of the mishaps. I love having these chickens in our backyard. They are not afraid of people. They usually like us because we bring them nice snacks like lettuce, bananas, bread, crackers and oyster shells. Yum! Sometimes they free-range where they're not supposed to (so I guess it's not quite free) so we have to help them return to the backyard.

And this is our FAVORITE free-range chic! Saffron was born in January 2010. Luckily she loves to be outside and loves to watch the chickens.