Well, the time has finally come to process our first round of meat chickens. The timing couldn't be more perfect seeing as how we just ate our last scrap of chicken out of the freezer last week for dinner. This year certainly overall was very different than last year's experience in terms of growth and overall behavior. This year I also tracked all costs and weights down to the penny to allow me to get a better grasp on how much I am paying in the end per pound. It was a successful season, and as I expected, I am beyond pleased with the quantity and quality of the birds. We will process the second round in two-three weeks but we are looking at an overly stuffed freezer full of pastured raise poultry to get us through the next year.
What's spring without chicks? Or goslings? Or ducklings? This spring brought an incredible amount of new life, adding geese, pigs, and more chicks. This year also was my first experience having not just one, but two broody hens. I am officially spoiled, and will never be able to go back to hand raising with heat lamps and the hassle of flock integration again.
Although broodiness is an undesireable trait that has been "bred out" in most breeds, there are others that are known for it, and some that catch you by surprise. Neither of my Silkie hens which are notorious for their broodiness (and the only reason I got them) got the urge to sit on a nest, while my Welsummer and Wyandotte hens were the ones to catch the bug. Aside from the cuteness factor which in itself is enough, there are a lot of benefits to having a broody hen (or two) in your flock.
The end of May aka the garden planting time here in Zone 5b came and went with gray, drizzling, and unseasonably cold temperatures. But, a day or two of sun and mid-sixties did manage to sneak in over Memorial Day weekend and I got my planting on! This year's line up brings a lot of "firsts" for me not only in varieties and veggie types, but actual gardening methods as well! This year I have your traditional "in the dirt garden" in addition to my Tower Garden that my sister gave me. She moved, and didn't have outdoor space for it so I eagerly accepted it! I am excited about all of the good things I have growing, and am optimistic for a bountiful harvest this year!
Of all the new additions to the farm this spring in terms of animals: laying chicks, meat chicks, goslings, and ducklings, I have to say I was most excited about adding a pair of piglets to raise. I am a very big meat eater, but I also care about how the animal that I consume was raised, fed, and processed . Pork is my favorite type of meat (dare I say more than beef?) so I could not wait to bring my own piglets home to raise for myself. This is my first time raising pigs, and even though I have researched the bejeezus out of raising them with rotational grazing, different types of land, diet, etc nothing compares to real life experience no matter how much you read. What I am doing now this first year will surely not be what I am doing in five years, but farming is all about learning from past experiences and adapting. At this point, there are a few key factors that I am focusing on that to me are the most important:
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