Butcher Week

This week has been full of death, and I think it has taken its toll on me. Sunday we butchered the remaining 4 meat birds plus the 1 barnyard mix who was shacked up with them. That wasn’t difficult, all went as planned. We did end up plucking by hand which was HORRID, but we got the job done. I’ve included a photo below of the barnyard mix and the Cornish X for comparison. The barnyard mix was a week older and still SO much smaller than the Cornish, which is why I won’t even attempt another meat breed. Although they’re a stupid bird, there is NO comparison between Cornish X for meat production. They were 8 weeks old when we butchered, and all of them were right around 10lb live, our largest was 8lb dressed.

Then, Monday the pigs went to butcher. They loaded just fine, and the enclosure we made in the truck bed worked perfectly. When we arrived at the processors, the issue we had was unloading them. They didn’t want to get out of the truck bed, and unfortunately the worker was not patient and began shocking them with the cattle prod. This caused them to scream like no tomorrow. They finally unloaded down the ramp into the holding pen before being processed, but listening to them scream and seeing them be visibly distressed was awful. I put a lot of effort into ensuring that they had good lives, and that they were not stressed learning to load into the truck. They were very calm on the drive to the processor, but all in vain because of their stressful unloading experience. I only hope the meat is not negatively affected.

Monday night was a tough one for me. I was sad. I enjoyed having the pigs. Certainly, my wallet will be happier not having to feed them, but I miss their “talking,” and their eagerness to eat ANYTHING we put in the pen with them. It is so odd having an empty pig pen. I am keeping my eyes to the future though, the pig pen will become a mini orchard filled with dwarf fruit trees, berry bushes, and grape vines. It will become a turkey paddock in the spring of 2019 for our Thanksgiving turkeys. Our next batch of pigs will live in the woods, with more space and the ability to forage entirely. I am excited for the pork that we will receive from our first pigs, and I understand that I gave them a good life, and in death they will provide for us. I know that their lives were 1000x better than hogs raised in CAFOs, and their meat will be healthier for us.

Empty pig pen πŸ™

Death is a part of life. No life exists without death, and we must all pay the toll one day.

Creekview FFA

I haven’t had the time to blog about an amazing experience that I had last week, so I’m writing about it now.

On 10/2/18, I had the opportunity to go to Creekview High School in Canton, GA and speak to 4 different ag/animal science based classes. Most of the students were freshmen or sophomores in high school, and 3 of the 4 classes were FFA groups. I was there from 0930 to 1330, talking to the students about rabbits. I did a quick overview of usefulness on the homestead, showing, some basic care information, and then info about the Silver Fox breed. I also took Dallan with me so that the kids could see and feel the breed. I had a lot of comments about how big he was and how soft his fur was. I took some ARBA magazines and some pelts along that I had tanned. The students seemed engaged and asked questions. We also got to practice posing with Dallan and their three lionhead/lionhead mixes that live in their classroom.

Afterwards, I had the opportunity to visit their ‘ag lab’ where they had hydroponic towers of lettuce, incubators with eggs, an aquarium, and an ag mechanics room. I also got to see their outdoor animal enclosures and their garden. The school is in the process of building them an agriculture building, which is fantastic considering that a few years ago their ag program was almost cut from the curriculum.

Agriculture is so vitally important, especially when it comes to teaching our young people about it. We need to encourage kids to get involved and become interested in agriculture in any and all ways possible. I’m hoping that I convinced at least one student to do rabbits for their Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) for FFA, a project that is an organizational requirement. I plan on working closely with Creekview and Ms. Pauline Benton in the future. Hopefully I’ll be contacted soon about a kid wanting meat or show rabbits.

Check out some photos here!

Butcher Day & Other Goings On

This week has been fairly productive. I’ve been cleaning a lot since Justus is away for work. I’m happy to say that we have ZERO laundry in the laundry baskets, and I’ve dusted all of the rooms downstairs except the kitchen (which needs its own deep clean). But, who cares about that stuff, what’s going on with the homestead?!

Well, Monday, my friend Linda of Tale of Tails came over & helped me butcher my 10 week old growouts so that I could get the grow out pen cleaned out for my 6 week old growouts. All together we butchered 8 rabbits out of 9 – the one with the missing foot (aka Foot) I’m holding out until Justus gets home since it’s “his” rabbit. That put almost 20lb of meat in the freezer, taking our yearly total thus far to ~80lb of homegrown meat in the freezer so far this year.


What else? Well, the pigs are doing very well. They’re a very entertaining pair, and I do enjoy watching them interact with the dogs and with each other. We are fermenting their hog feed for added microbes and bacteria, along with adding sunflower seeds – the pigs love them. We put garlic in their water and I have yet to see any worms or external parasites.

I have also accomplished my best batch of ‘booch yet! I made kombucha AND jun (kombucha made with green tea & honey instead of black tea & sugar) and BOTH turned out very well. The kombucha was better, I flavored it during 2F with raspberries and some mint that I grew. The jun was flavored with ginger and lime. I am enjoying drinking both of them.

Booch on left; Jun on right

I forgot to add in previous blogs, our chukar and pheasant chicks escaped, so that project went ker-plut. Looks like theyΒ  got out under a small gap between the ground and the cage. Oh well, live and learn. Hopefully this fall we can get the game bird pen erected so we don’t have these issues again.

Also, the goose eggs are doing very well. Still appears that 4 out of 5 are developing properly. They’re due to hatch June 29 if all goes as planned.

Copper maran egg from our new girls

I believe that’s about all for now. πŸ™‚

Butcher Day!!

Today was butcher day! Well, really butcher morning. We decided to go ahead and dispatch and process the meat birds today, at just over 8 weeks old.

My friend Sandra Walker (she led our soap making workshop) brought over her chicken plucker and graciously offered her assistance with the process. She has processed MANY birds for her family as well for retail sale, so I was very glad to have her guidance throughout the process.

We started around 08:30 and were finished by 10:00. Not too bad for two people (although Justus did the odd jobs we needed him to, like getting more hot water, salting the ice water, etc.) doing 11 birds!

It was somewhat bitter sweet, grabbing the first 4 birds and dispatching them, however once they were bled, plucked, & eviscerated, they looked lovely and were hardly recognizable as their living, bowling-ball type selves. The whole process for the birds was painless and as stress free as possible for them. Sandra has a fabulous butcher apron and I will totally be buying myself one.

We worked in batches of 4 birds – first dispatching (via cutting their throats and bleeding them out upside down), then plucking all 4 at once in the plucker, then cleaning & evisceration, & finally ice bath. I would say it took us about a half hour per set of 4, about 15 minutes total per person per bird – not too shabby.

I purchased some shrink bags and “official” labels so that if I decide to sell any to anyone, the safe handling instructions are included on the bird. Our final total cost came out to $81, or $6.75/bird (increased to $7.36 since we only were able to butcher 11). The average weight of the chickens was 4.74 lb (4lb 11.9oz), with the largest bird weighing 5.46 lb (5lb 7.4oz) & the smallest weighing 4.01 lb (4lb 0.2oz). This brings our price per lb (to break even) out to $0.64/lb. We have just over 52lb of meat from today, and I am beyond thankful. We’ve decided to sell any extra birds for $4.25/lb, averaging around $20 per bird for humanely raised & dispatched, pasture-raised, [organic] chicken.

I’ve included some photos of the whole process below, including the finished product. πŸ™‚

Pre-hanging to bleed
Hanging them to bleed
Pre-scalding & plucking, post bleeding
Scalding (145-150 degree F water worked best today)
Using the plucker (see video below)

Using the Plucker!

Pre-evisceration & cleaning, post scalding & plucking
One of our finished birds
Over 52lb of meat resting in the fridge

Soap Making 101!

Well, our first on-farm event was a SUCCESS in my book! Yesterday we held our Spring Soapmaking Workshop, and had very positive feedback and reviews. About 15 people showed up, and our presenter (my friend Sandra of Free Home Farm) did a fabulous job!

We started out with some handouts talking about why soap making is important, how soap works, some basic chemistry and safety information, and the like. Then we broke for snacks before starting the actual soap making. After our intermission, Sandra started the soap making process, including weighing out the fats/oils, mixing the lye, and stirring the soap. The process of stirring (typically via an immersion blender to speed up the chemical reactions) was thwarted, however, due to an unexpected power outage. We still don’t know what caused it, but it prevented us from being able to get our soap to set up in a timely manner. Regardless, Sandra had brought some pre-made soaps along as well for us to see, smell, and take home. We kept the “experimental” soap that we made but couldn’t get to thicken, we shall see if it sets up.

All together it was a great day. We had beautiful weather and a great turnout. I am very happy with how it went. Not to mention both my mom and grandma flew down for the event and to help out, and I wouldn’t have been able to pull off such a successful event without them!

Enjoy some photos of the day below!


Intermission – preparing for the actual soap making
Getting ready for soap making
Mixing the lye and water – monitoring the temperature of the chemical reaction
Mixing (by hand) the lye and fats/oils
Expertly crafted cheese & cracker plate
Everly (our youngest attendee) and I – she was very interested in soap making
Some hot & cold process soaps that Sandra pre-made

Our First On-Farm Event!

I am super excited to announce (to anyone who doesn’t follow our Facebook page), that we have begun planning and preparation for our VERY FIRST event! We will be hosting a soap making workshop in conjunction with our friend Sandra Walker (formerly of Free Home Farm). We have decided to limit the event to 10 open spots for guests. One spot is $10, which gets you your very own bar of homemade, lye based soap! We will be using various herbs and essential oils in the soaps, so if you’re planning on coming, bring your ideas! Refreshments will be provided. The workshop will start at 1 o’clock in the afternoon on April 14 (Saturday), and run until we have the soaps in the molds and they have begun to cure (could take 2-3 hours or 1 hour, depending on the turn out). I made the event BYOB for anyone wanting to bring their own spirits along.

I am excited to learn how to make lye soaps myself, and am even more excited for the opportunity to learn with others, and converse with other interested parties. If you’d like a spot, let me know. The $10 is due the week before, by April 7, so that we can gather necessary supplies prior to the workshop.

I am asking that, due to limited parking space, people attempt to carpool. We will be having people park at the top of the driveway in the cul-de-sac, and we will cart you down to the house in the truck.

I am so looking forward to this event! Can’t wait to see who turns out for this fun spring day of learning!

click here to see our facebook event page to rsvp πŸ™‚