This weekend was all about homesteading rhythms and rotations. We moved our third batch of chicks out of a heated corral and into an out door coop; we transferred Cornish Rocks into a new on-pasture paddock; we planted the garden; and after weeks of YouTube how-to videos we harvested our first meat birds. By “we” I mean The Husband and the Mother In Law (MIL); I operated the water nozzle, the most important task in chicken harvesting, ask anyone.
|Best laid plans|
After spending our winter planning the precise layout and content of our first ‘real’ garden we decided last second to plant elsewhere and give the larger space to our chickens. Call us nuts, but either the trees around the new garden grew exponentially over the winter or the Earth’s orbit around the sun is slightly askew this spring because we definitely remember there being more sunlight in that area. I admit it would have been handier had we made this shade-related observation prior to planting all the full-sun seeds. Eager to find a fix I scoured the web for vegetable varieties willing to thrive in not-exactly-tons-of-sun-like-we-remembered situations and it turns out turnips and beans would be well suited. Thank goodness for that on account of me hankering for a plate of those two things practically on a daily basis.
As for the poultry dispatchment and evisceration I will say I took considerable comfort in the predictability of anatomy. Everything was situated exactly where YouTube said they would be and nothing unexpected occurred during the course of harvesting. The tasks I worried most about were accomplished quickly and then the mechanics of the process kicked in. Plus the MIL has an uncanny knack for defusing tense, possibly gross moments with sly and unpredictable humor.
Dressed, our birds weighed in at four and a half pounds apiece. The Husband stuffed one with boquet garni from his herb garden and slid it in the oven. Delicious. We’ve been customers of October Rose Farm long enough to know pastures and sunshine and fresh air make better baked chicken than antibiotics and growth hormones and steroids. Go figure. Unanticipated was our increased sense of independence, security and satisfaction. Home-grown is a powerful liberty. Even when you screw up the garden.
|The new hen yard.|