Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Home Grown Thanksgiving...Partially.

If you've been reading this blog, you know that we raised turkeys for the first time this year. This past Saturday, we got them in to be processed at a (fairly) local processor. We ended up with one bird at nearly 11 pounds and the other nearly 12, for a total of 22 pounds of bird. I liked the company that we went with. They are actually FDA approved and if we chose to, we could sell the birds to consumers - but we know that these are just for our consumption. It is a little strange to see just two turkeys outside, rather than four - but I think the remaining two seem a little calmer.
So tonight, we will be prepping them to be the centerpiece at our Thanksgiving dinner. We are hosting our family and some friends. Both birds will be the main part of the meal - but additionally we are proud to say that we grew the pumpkins for the pumpkin pie, grew the pecans for the pecan pie,  and raised the birds who laid the eggs for our deviled eggs. What a delicious, somewhat homegrown Thanksgiving meal this will be! I believe we will have somewhere between 16 and 18 people here for the meal. So much love in our dining room.
EXCITING! (...and busy...did I mention busy? Ok, enough blogging - time to get back to cleaning and cooking!)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Turkey Time

Well the decision has been made. The two turkeys that will be joining us for Thanksgiving dinner (although not in a way that they would necessarily enjoy) will be processed the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving. We have a local (ish) processing center and they had an open appointment for that Saturday - it was meant to be! I've heard of this facility through a couple different people (including a respected organic farmer) which makes me feel more comfortable. I want to make sure that we didn't raise them humanely just to have them tortured in the last few moments of life. I get that it is still death and I'm not naive to think it is this beautiful, sterile, painless process for anyone involved - but I don't want it to be a terrifying nightmare either. I've enjoyed having the birds and hope that Loner and Mama Bird (the two remaining birds) like each other enough to breed and make more for our farm. We'd consider selling some birds if that was the case. Raising them, processing (or getting them processed) and selling to neighbors/family. It might be another way for us to raise some money around here...or just another food source for our family.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hunker Down and Plan for the Future

With things turning from Summer, to somewhat skipping Fall and heading straight into Winter (we've already had snow!), there aren't a lot of updates to share with all of you. Our chickens continue to give us eggs, but have slowed, with the shorter days and colder weather. The animals are all doing well. We borrowed Zero, an alpine buck, to freshen our ladies. Zero was on loan from the farm farm that bought Herb, Fauna and Blanche from us. If I haven't mentioned that farm, that family, before, I should. They are wonderful people. They have a ton of kids, a combination of natural and adopted (including a number of special needs adoptions). They are so helpful to us, letting us borrow Zero, at no cost... I believe he got to Mabel and Ethel...and unfortunately goats can be escape artists and I worry that he got to Flora (she has a bad leg, and I worry about her being pregnant), and the angoras (does the world need more angora/alpine crosses?). These animals aren't our pets (although we treat them as kindly and lovingly as our pets), they are here for purpose. We need to figure out a better solution for when we have a visiting buck...separate pasture maybe? We continue to work to figure things out.
It is getting close to Thanksgiving, which means two of our four turkeys are short-timers. The question has been asked if it will be difficult to let them go. My response is that, it's never going to be easy to process animals. They are living creatures, they have faces and personalities. We weren't brought up raising our own food...but am I going to let those feelings stop me from enjoying home-grown turkey come! The purpose of those two turkeys was food. They were meant to be eaten and that's what will happen. We have discussed the option of taking them somewhere to be processed. I think that will be the option we choose. Rather than doing the processing ourselves. Time and, I'm not going to lie, emotions, may keep us from doing it. But it must be done.
I was asked if I ever feel down about the limited comments made to this blog. I really don't. It's mostly for us to keep a log of what is going on around here. To keep track of our lessons learned or to be able to look back and see where we were, compared to where we are (so glad we aren't ghetto apartment dwellers any longer). So while I hope that this blog grows and it'd be nice to get additional readers, I'm happy to just have this remember.
....and speaking of growing...Mark and I are trying to figure out what our future looks like here. We are happy with where we are, for the moment, but are always looking to improve. We have oh so many projects that need to be completed around here (the barn, the coops, the parking area etc etc) and we will continue to make those spaces what we want. It's just difficult to find times when we are blessed with both the time and money to complete these tasks. Our focus was lost for a bit last year, but now we've refocused. Once we have some of the major tasks completed, we plan on paying our knowledge forward. So what does that mean?? Well, the plan, at this time, is to transition this place into a learning center. We'd like to start developing lesson plans, to create a variety of classes for children, adults and families. Learning anything from processing chickens to knitting a hat. In addition, we can use the learning space to create a little shop to help support the farm....eventually selling goat's milk and honey soaps, lotions a lip balm...other honey products, including pollen and candles and hopefully some fiber items. I also see this space as a way to support some friends of Fresh Egg's...showcasing our friends talents, referring to farms that have helped us (Spruce Hill, for angoras and Marushka Farm, for sheep etc) and develop a list if resources for services, for people just starting out (county extension offices, quality feed and hay providers, livestock processing places and shearers etc). I've been working on building a website (separate from this blogspot space) and we are going to be launching (hopefully) in a year or so. We'll be taking this time to plan, build out the class list, locate educators (for topics for the "learn with us" series) and finishing the property to make it a safe and pretty space for visitors. In addition to classes (something that lasts for a few hours), we've talked about adding week-long 1/2 day or full day "camps" for school age kids, along with "Fresh Egg's To Go" lesson plans to cater to the needs of our local schools to meet their core curriculum standards and finally, work with some homeschooling networks to offer classes to meet their curriculum needs. It's all a work in progress and we know things could change, but as long as there is interest, we believe we have the skills to make it a success. It would be great to do this to help supplement our income and to help those that are just like us, wanting to learn some of the skills, that generations before us survived on.