Our 15 more=29

I had previously to this meat bird run part 2, signed up to volunteer at a local farm as a chicken harvester. In exchange for each harvest I get two chickens. This means that along with the ones we are raising now we will also have an additional 16.

I learned a lot at the harvesting despite the fact that I have been doing my own at home. I am quite sketchy about the innard removal and now I am an expert or closer to it. I thought the gizzard was the chicken’s enlarged heart previously. There were different stations for the chicken processing and I preferred to do the first few rather than the last part whereas some people just prefer to be inside taking out the innards and making the chicken pretty before it goes on ice.

In honor of the first two chickens I brought home (so 18 instead) I used herbs from our garden and roasted it in butter, herbs and a little beer. It tasted divine and we had potatoes, gravy and stuffing and I made a peach struesel pie for dessert. I wanted to make it into something special instead of just sit down eat and then leave. I wanted the chicken to be honored a little bit really. The girls both ate quite a lot of the chicken and for the first time Willow ate chicken that wasn’t in nugget form or fried. 🙂

We moved the chicks to the bin outside and we now have 29 chickens. We got an egg yesterday but I don’t know who it’s from. The meat bird is close to 14 weeks so I suspect it’s her but it could be one of the other ones too that we got in March? I made a God’s eye yesterday and put a chive blossom and the egg on top and took a photo.




The garden weed control

We have raised beds that are great for growing weeds. This is the frustration that I have and why I didn’t plant things last year. I have the space and the time and the work ethic but I can’t stand the weeds everywhere and I haven’t mastered the art of weeding daily I guess. I know when I dig the weeds up then I stir up the other weed seeds in the soil which makes it worse. The meat chickens did a really good job of weeding where they were but they are not around to help and would eat the plants that I want to keep too. There are a couple of the raised beds that have more weeds than edible plants so I decided to put down weed barrier and then plant the plants. I plan to get more straw and mulch on top maybe this weekend. The straw that I put down between the beds on top of paper bags is doing pretty well in areas where I actually fully covered the ground. I am surprised I didn’t come up with this idea sooner but I am happy about it for now. The peas were already growing in rows so I just cut holes to accomodate them. The other raised beds I put the weed barrier down then cut holes before planting the green or yellow beans or tomatoes or pumpkins, etc.

A lot of my seedlings in the first round died due to lack of care and so I bought a lot of starter plants, direct seeded potatoes, carrots and peas and am content with things so far. I have a lot of great seedlings now outdoors including more peas, squash and cucumbers. If you didn’t start seedlings then go buy the plants I say! It’s still cheaper than buying the produce from the grocery store or farmer’s market.

We have to have broccoli and cucumbers no matter what and then my daughter reminded me that I didn’t get cauliflower. I didn’t know I was supposed to but I guess I missed that!

The Meat Bird Chronicles and 4-H

I thought I was done with the meat bird posts but my 7-year-old daughter wants to raise more of them and I found a place to take them to in order to have them butchered so I wouldn’t have to spend so much time with that and with timing it all crazy and figuring out when I need to take them to who and when I need to butcher them and set up the whole boiling pot and stuff outside.  I did what I would like to be the final 2 hens today. There is one hen with Big Daddy the rooster and I may not bother with her for awhile we will see. Big Daddy is getting bigger and bigger though and one of the red broiler hens was 4 pounds and the other last Cornish Cross was only 2 pounds which I felt bad about because I should have just left her alone but she is eating food and is like 12 weeks old so I kind of didn’t want to wait any longer.  She is actually in the photo below which I hesitate about posting but my Dad is the one that doesn’t want to see the chickens that he is eating!  There’s been a fine line between economics and caring about the meat birds. I haven’t wanted to care about them. Normally you don’t have them this long but they ate and grew at different rates and then I let them free range all the time so they weren’t in a pen with their food all the time.  There needs to be a balance between free range and eating in a contained area I think.

Phase 2 of the meat birds will start soon and in addition to the chicks we purchase we will see if the rooster is able to be a rooster next month or so and then try to hatch eggs. Well I won’t hatch the eggs but you know.

My daughter is joining 4-H this week and although she is rather bored with the meetings (an adult talked the whole time before) she is looking forward to the meetings closer to the fair when they will teach her how to prep her ladies for show (a.k.a. give a chicken a bath). She missed the deadline for the fair for 4-H but she can still do open showing with hens which is totally fine. She has to be 8 to show meat birds which is what she wanted to do for a project but she can do it next year if she wants to. They have the age cut off at age 8 for a lot of things with the animals and also canning because of course you don’t want the younger kids boiling hot liquids, jams, etc.

I think she will show two hens but I have to look and see what the standard is for the Buff Orpington because our Chickaboo might actually be too big I am not sure. The Speckled Sussex is so pretty though and she really wants to show her. There is my accidental purchase of the Ancona Annie because I wanted a Cuckoo Maran for the darkest brown eggs but Annie will lay white eggs. She is really pretty though so it’s ok. They do have their own

personalities and pecking order as well as some are more tame and agreeable to being held than others no matter what you do. Annie has always been skittish and runs away but the Buff Orpington and the Barred Rock are more tame. They also say roosters are friendlier which I have found to be true. I can still usually pick up our rooster though he makes a fuss about it. I am keeping my fingers crossed he doesn’t crow before we can build a better coop for them that’s not in the garage since I don’t shut them in at night.

Chocolate Oatmeal Stout 2

When we first made this I was all into watching the beer ferment and didn’t use my hydrometer. I know that I need to in order to get better and also avoid foaming overflowing bottles. I modified this recipe a little bit and added some coffee and a darker malt syrup. The yeast is ale yeast instead of the reused yeast for an herbal beer. I am having good vibes about this one but it’s slow to start fermenting bec

ause it’s only about 65 in here and before the carboy was in front of the heater so it was bubbling like crazy. I want to try and avoid the malt syrup and make my own from grain but I didn’t want to chance it this time. It will save money on the malt syrup which is spendy. 😦

 Amy’s Chocolate Oatmeal Stout

5 gallons

3.3 lbs. (3.0 kg) Briess light unhopped malt extract syrup
3.3 lbs. (3. kg.) Briess dark unhopped m

alt extract syrup
1.5 lbs. Crystal malt
4.0 oz. (113 g) black patent malt
6.0 oz. (113 g) chocolate malt
6.0 oz. (283 g) flaked oats
1.5 oz. Kent Goldings hops (boil 60 minutes
6 oz. cocoa nibs
4 oz. coffee ground
White Labs WLP002 (English Ale) yeast
O.75 cup corn sugar or regular sugar (for priming)

Step by step:

Steep the crushed malts and coffee in 2 gallons of water at 150 ºF (66 ºC) for 30 minutes. Remove grains from wort and add water to make 3 gallons (11 L). Add the malt syrup to your wort and bring to a boil.

Add the Goldings bittering hops and boil for 60 minutes. Add the Goldings finishing hops for the last 5 minutes of the boil.

Now add the wort to 2 gallons (7.6 L) of cool water in a sanitary fermenter, and top off with cool water to 5.5 gallons (21 L). Cool the wort to 75 ºF (24 ºC) — do not aerate (you want a high ending gravity for this beer!). Pitch your yeast and allow the beer to cool over the next few hours to 68 ºF (20 ºC), and hold at this temperature until the beer has finished fermenting. Then bottle or keg your beer and enjoy!

Big Daddy

Living on the edge for me is having a rooster. I have a really mean neighbor on one side and fabulous ones on all the other houses on our street. Of course

the chickens are on that side of the house the mean side. It is perfectly legal to have chickens and I think to have a rooster as well however we live in the city limits so you really shouldn’t have a rooster crowing. I have enjoyed watching Big Daddy grow up and he will reach sexual maturity at Summer Solstice. I am planning to keep him as long as I can in order to fertilize some eggs that we can hatch for more meat birds. Would it be better to buy meat chicks? Yes it would but we haven’t hatched eggs before and it’s something new and fun. 🙂

Big Daddy is the red broiler meat bird in the front, his friend dinner is in back of him but we won’t look too long at her. I actually don’t have personal attachments to any of the meat birds except Big Daddy and that is because I decided to keep him and he’s a novelty item really.



Backyard grower’s marketing

I was going back and forth about selling eggs, produce, and plants at a market this summer. The cost of the market fee is the main reason so I have to make sure that’s low enough to begin with. The other thing I have to consider is my return on the money I have to spend on the egg handler’s permit for Wa state. It’s $35 for the year which means I need to make enough profit selling at the market to clear that amount and some. I can sell my eggs from home which I do and have done and I don’t need a license at all. In Oregon you don’t need one but in Washington you do.

As I have been planting the garden seeds I have also planted some in mini plastic pots to also sell at the market. I am happy so far with how everything is growing and I have broccoli, peas, potatoes, green beans and purple bush beans coming up. I also have basil, marshmallow, oregano and Russian tarragon in pots growing and comfrey in the front yard and mint and rosemary and a few other things I can’t remember. I would like to have a mini fridge in the garage and sell produce and eggs from there and keep it open this summer.

The end of this month I start my nursing assistant classes and will then have a job. A job = money=farm!


Reusing grain and yeast while homebrewing

When making beer you are using grains, possibly hops and then yeast and you end up with a byproduct after it’s been boiled. You can either feed it to your chickens who love it or you can make bread or both! With the remnant grain from the last batch of beer I made a dark yummy bread that was enjoyed after the whole beermaking process was finished. The grains are also readily eaten by my meat birds (who got first dibs) and my laying hens.

You can compost the hops or you can also try to feed those to your chickens as well. I think we got rid of our hops this last time and it was the first time using hops. The byproduct of grain and oatmeal from our oatmeal stout makes a nice meal for animals.

Every time you make a batch of beer you need to add a tube of yeast which costs about $7 or so. The yeast in the bottom of the carboy can and should be reused. We are now saving the yeast and harvesting it to use again in other upcoming batches.  There is a little information about reusing your yeast here.



My meat birds ate a large portion of the leftover grains a couple of weeks ago and then I butchered them and cooked the chicken with salt, pepper, butter and herbs. You can add the extra beer you take out of your carboy for a hydrometer reading and instead of pitching it use it to baste your chicken. The whole process including the herbs in the beer came from the garden and then the grain went to the chickens and then the chickens got the herbs rubbed on them and the herbal beer to cook in and it’s all one big reusing tasty circle!