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.

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  • Reply Jeremy I. Wheelock May 19, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Looks delicious! And the “best laid plans” photograph is wonderful.

  • Reply Backyard Chicken Lady July 7, 2013 at 5:17 am

    I would love to borrow your husband and MIL so I could raise and process meat birds. I just cannot ‘do the deed’. My husband is afraid to even get near the birds during feeding time so I don’t think he would be of much use in the ‘process of processing’.

    I stumbled upon your blog after someone showed me your video “Hazards of Backyard Hens”. After watching it at least 4 times and laughing just as hard the 4th time as the 1st, I shared it with my husband. He said, “Oh my God! She is describing You!” Guess I shouldn’t have shared it with him because now he knows that the goats he is clearing the land for, will not be the last of it.

    I am sharing your video on my blog tomorrow with a link back to you included. You are so funny I want everyone to know about you! Here is the link to the post that will go live tomorrow at 3:00pm Pacific time. http://backyardchickenlady.blogspot.com/2013/07/video-hazards-of-backyard-hens-misty.html


  • Reply Tina August 15, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    Love your realistic posts! It’s going to be a few years before I can start living my homesteading dream, but we do what we can now. I have a small raised gardens in my apartment parking spot, we volunteer for fresh veggies (and meat sometimes), and we do what we can to source local and humanely raised meat and eggs. The hardest thing to find so far has been fruit, but I did manage to find a few places with a few hours of here, so I am pretty happy with that.

    Off to spend way to much time looking through your blog!

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