Belle Rock Farm

Fine chickens in Goodhue County since 2011.

The beginning of the end…

by allison - August 7th, 2012.
Filed under: General.

All of the meat birds are now safely tucked away in the freezer. Throughout the month of July we worked on perfecting our technique and process, and eventually got the whole gig smoothed out. We are quite happy with the way they turned out; we butchered between 9 and 12 weeks (with the last straggling few done at 13 weeks), and ended up with birds between 3.25 and 5.5 pounds. Now that we have a good system worked out, I think this will be a feasible repeat project for next summer. When we first started the butchering, I was convinced we’d NEVER finish!

I saved all of the chicken necks for making stock and the organs for my cats, but decided not to go to the trouble of saving the feet. I’ve heard there is a market for them with people who want to make stock, but I wasn’t ready to go that far this year!

The pigs are scheduled to go in to the butcher in one week. While I’m not sure they quite hit the target weight of 200 pounds, I think we’ll get some good meat off of them. After a close call with one pig suffering heat stroke last month, and the general disposition of the pigs, the jury is still out on whether this will be a repeat project. I guess the quality of the bacon may be the deciding factor. :) I’m also interested to see if I can make some goat milk soap with the lard. I should have the pork back for Labor Day weekend, so will have some time to play around with it then.

The goat milking is now going quite well, and the cheese making continues. The cheddar curds were a success, and I’ve discovered you can make a form of cheesecake from the ricotta–so with our fresh cheese and eggs, the dessert ends up being very locally produced, and tasty to boot.

The ducks have been turned out to forage for themselves now that they don’t have to be fenced in with the meat birds. They are slowly expanding their territory, and I’m trying to figure out what their permanent housing should be. The hens should start laying in a few weeks, and I haven’t yet decided if/how many of the excess drakes I will butcher.

The school year is coming up fast. It’s hard to believe we started this whole crazy “farming” plan a year ago when we bought the goats. I think I’m ready for the winter break from excessive chores, but am already looking forward to more goat kids and birds in the spring…

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