Things have been movin' and shakin' here on the homestead. It has been a fabulous weekend. Not only did the Lord bless us with wonderful spring weather, but we also celebrated Stu's birthday (a few days early). Yes, it involved lard and heavy whipping cream – just in case you were wondering. His request was for fried fish and chips, creme brulee, and his favorite beer. A pretty light and refreshing meal, no doubt.
I'm still recovering.
On top of that, we also picked up a quarter steer again from a local ranch, Oberg Brothers. The chest freezer is once again full of beef and quite happy.
And on top of that, we also received our late harvest olive oil from Chaffin Family Olive Oils in California. Oh, how I've been anxiously awaiting this shipment!
Besides the fun of spring weather and grand feasts, I've been busy with my vegetable starts and prepping the beds for the coming spring.
Ya, baby. That's a tomato!
If you remember, I heavily mulched them with WOOD CHIPS earlier this spring and am already blown away by the benefit it's brought to my soil. I went out to check it yesterday afternoon and was easily able to paw my way down through the entire bed. It was so light and rich – oh la la.
Beyond that, I've also put up another HOOP HOUSE so that the soil will begin to warm extra in this raised bed. This bed will be home to my herbs, beets, kale, lettuce, spinach, and peas. Because most of these are planted early in spring, I figured it best to get a jump start on the season – this way, I don't have to worry about a light frost, as the tender seedlings will be protected! I'll be able to plant in this hoop house the middle of this month.
My kale is already calling it home during the warm days, though it still is happiest sleeping in the house.
I simply love this time of year. The birds are back and are noisily chirping, you start to see bugs crawlin' around, and I'll be danged if I didn't see patches of green grass the other day. The ground is slowly coming back to life and there is nothing quite like gardening to make one appreciate these blessings.
And speaking of spring time…guess what?!
It involves feathers.
Okay, I'll tell you.
My parents and I are going to raise meat chickens this spring! Is that the most exciting news you've heard all day? Perhaps, in your lifetime? I thought so.
In my quest to find local, pastured chicken (I am currently disappointed with ‘organic' chickens that still never area allowed to roam free and eat bugs and such…but that's another post…) I was astonished at the price. Here in Washington, pastured chickens sell for about $4.50 a pound. A POUND! And it's not that I mind paying more for a great product, but for that price, I'd just assume do it myself.
So that's what we're going to do.
Not only will we be able to pasture them (using a temporary and movable pen), use their manure as fertilizer, utilize the feet and necks for broth (and livers for cooking!), but we'll also be able to control what sort of grain they will be receiving. Not to mention that added benefit of experiencing and appreciating the chicken's contribution to the homestead. Truly, nothing makes you appreciate meat like raising and butchering your own.
There is still lots to decide, such as which breed we will choose and what we will feed it, but luckily, we still have a few weeks to decide. We're looking to start the beginning (ish) of April, which means the chickens should be ready to butcher sometime around the end of June – just before the garden work really starts to get busy. Perfect timing!
It looks like we'll be raising about 50 chickens – 25 for my parents and 25 for us. Hopefully, we won't loose too many as chicks (or to predators), and will yield somewhere around 20-23 chickens each. This will supply us with chicken for about a year.
Is it weird that I get so excited about such things? Does this put my into some sort of ‘social outcast' category? Will I be that crazy lady in the town that no one wants to talk to their children? Honey, don't talk to that lady, she butchers chickens…
Such is life, I suppose.
At least my husband doesn't think I'm a complete agrarian loon….
Regardless, life on the farm in spring really kicks off with a bang and I'm ready, baby. Oh, I'm so ready.
Now….who's got great information for me on meat chickens?