Results for tag "pastured-chickens"

pastured!

Can you spot the lady ducks hiding in the grass?1655737_10152199133991448_4193783938692871107_oOur pigs really enjoy the cool shade in their “Pig Park,” where they get to run, root in the dirt and play as all pigs should!P1100883

Our goslings, chickens and turkeys all get along just great on pasture, the little turkeys like to help clean up the broilers’ beaks after dinner.

P1100856P1100851One of our pastured veal calves, Bucco, enjoying some delicious grazing.
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Our hay harvest is coming off the field where we pastured our turkeys, geese and chickens last summer and fall. Our bale yield has gone up considerably because of all the nutrients the birds added to the soil!P1100821

A simple and delicious dinner to make without heating up the kitchen hardly at all: Fresh Duck Egg pasta, amaranth greens (you could use any greens) and garlic scapes (or green beans would be good too) all cooked together in a pot of water for 3-4 minutes, then topped with salty aged goat feta, olive oil and black pepper.P1100809P1100813

Nanking Cherry Seeds after extracting the juice, which is shown in the process of simmering down with apple vinegar and frozen serrano peppers from last year to make an experimental cherry hot sauce. The seeds we’ll save to plant next year.P1100812P1100815P1100889 P1100890 P1100892

 

The Farmstead Kitchen – Pastured Chicken & Bone Broth

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We are signing up our Pastured Chicken Shares for 2014! This year we are raising our chickens in one group in the summer. Please reserve your Chicken Share before we sell out!

We have raised 2 kinds of chickens for meat on our farm over the past few years- the Cornish Cross, and the older heritage breeds such as Barred Rock, Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire and Dark Cornish. The heritage birds are beautiful, active and very flavorful, but they only dressed out at a 2.5 lb average.478401_10151624861106448_347566145_oWe’ll be sticking with the Cornish Cross, aka the BUBSTERS, from now on for several reasons:

They are the most efficient chicken at turning organic grains into muscle. Efficiency is the most sustainable for the planet.

They are DELICIOUS, tender, juicy and extremely flavorful when raised on pasture to a more mature age (13 weeks vs. the standard 6 or 8 weeks)

They forage just as well as the heritage chickens if they are taught to enjoy greens from day one- we bring them shredded kale, grass and clover in their baby brooder until they go out on pasture

They are a beautiful sight to behold outdoors, running around in the sun and fresh air, in contrast to the crowded and dark factory farm barns where this breed is normally raised.

They offer 6-8 servings from their bounty, so one life goes a lot longer on your plate. (Cornish Cross 7 lb vs. Heritage 2.5 lb)

Contrary to what you might have read, Cornish Cross chickens are NOT a genetically modified organism. They are a hybrid, like many of the vegetable varieties we grow in our gardens- genetically selected from a secret patented combination of chicken breeds and parent crosses.

Crockpot Pastured Chicken and Crockpot Bone Broth

Our favorite and easiest way to prepare our Pastured Chickens is in a crockpot. Defrost the bird thoroughly, then rinse and place him in the crockpot breast side down, with a 1/2 cup of water, broth or beer. Generously sprinkle on salt and pepper, add some sliced onions and garlic around the sides, and if you’d like, some herbs and lemon wedges. Cover and set on high for 5-6 hours or on low for 10-12. The meat will be tender, falling off the bone and so juicy and flavorful! You’ll find a beautiful abundance of what’s called “schmaltz” in the bottom, it’s the juices and gelatin from the chicken.

Using a crockpot is a no-fail, energy efficient way to have a pastured chicken ready to go, and after eating dinner, you can stick the crock pot insert in the fridge.  Delicious and easy chicken sandwiches are waiting for the next couple days, while simply leaving the bones/skin in the crockpot. When all the meat is eaten off the bones, put the crock back into the crockpot base, and cover the carcass with water. Add a 1/2 cup of vinegar (we use home-brewed apple vinegar) to the water to pull the minerals and calcium from the bones into the resulting rich, delicious and nourishing bone broth. After simmering for 6-8 hours on high, the vinegar won’t be detectable. Strain your broth while warm into jars or freezer bags to use for soups or sauces. The gorgeous fat will rise to the top as the broth is chilled and can be spooned off to use for roasting veggies, or just left there and used as part of the broth.DSC01400

No Crockpot? You can roast a pastured chicken in the oven as well, we recommend that you keep it covered for the majority of the roasting time to have the most succulent results. We heat the oven to 350, lay the chicken in the roasting pan breast side down on top of a bed of chopped veggies (onion, celery, garlic) and fragrant herbs like bay leaf, rosemary and thyme, sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper, and pour in a few cups of beer, broth or water to help keep the moisture level up around the bird as it cooks. Keep it covered as it roasts for 2-3 hours, check for doneness, and then carefully flip the bird over and stick back in the oven uncovered for 10 to 20 minutes to brown the breast skin. DSC01411

We are so honored to raise these beautiful, bountiful birds for your table. Please let us know if we can email you the Reservation form!

 

Chicken/Rabbit Tractor Evolution

For the past couple of years, we have been experimenting with chicken and rabbit tractors. When we first arrived here, we had little experience with building these things, but now with some experience under our belts, it’s getting better. The amount of 2x4s put into these projects is enough to make us seriously consider buying a small sawmill, but luckily our friend Mark down the road is a expert sawyer and we will happily use his services when the time comes to fell our own timber. Meanwhile, the trips to the lumberyard are numerous.

Our first choice was PVC pipe, for ease of construction and durability. We used screws instead of glue, just in case we wanted to take it all apart. Well, so far we haven’t because there is so much else to do. It was about 10’x10′ using 10” lengths of 1 diameter pipe. We wrapped chicken wire around it and covered it with a tarp that collected water and sometimes lay in the middle of the chicken tractor like a big old slip and slide. We quickly decided that we didn’t like this type of tractor for a number of reasons, but it was cheap and did raise up two groups of 60 chickens.

This is it’s final resting place now…

After some more research, we thought the best thing would be to follow Salatin’s lead and make our chicken tractors out of wood, 2x4s ripped into 2x2s. This has been our method now, and we are continually making each tractor a little more easy to use.

The first one was a 2×2 frame that was 4’x8′ and 2′ high, with a middle 2×4 support, like an arch. This one was made into a rabbit tractor, so we surrounded it with hardware cloth instead of chicken wire. One half of the top was OSB, and the other half was some old fencing. This was a pretty sturdy one, but it had no rabbits. Soon it was going to need some modifications…

This was then:

After having rabbits escape underneath the sides we added an inner ring of 2x2s. They still escaped out the ends so we added some board on the ends. Then, when we forgot to adjust these board after moving the tractor, which left a gap on the sides, they escaped out that way. Luckily we caught all but 2 of the escapees but this was no good, for a number of reasons. We finally gave in and added slats on the bottom, as in the Salatin model. Oh yeah, and since they were pretty dang heavy, why not add a 2×4 harness for us to pull or push. Works pretty good so far.

The rabbit tractors are almost good enough, but some small wheels would be helpful as that is a lot of rabbit weight on those slats. Also, they really only want the shade, so we will add a hinged wooden lid as well. Which brings us to the chicken tractors.

It seemed obvious that the chicken tractors didn’t need to be as sturdy as the rabbit tractors, so we did not add the middle bracing. This doesn’t makes a sturdy frame, but it has held up for 60 chickens so far.

yes those are turkeys in the chicken tractor

When you pull it around you just sort of pull it apart as well. All we did for the roof was a piece of steel siding and a 2×8, strapped down with 2 bungee cords. That is awkward. So chicken tractor 2.1 is this:

All grown up

The main new features are: used 2×2 bracing in the middle, full OSB roof with hinged door, reinforced bracing with osb triangles and 1x4s, and definitely the most important, a  2×4 harness attached to the bottom so that all the pressure of pulling or pushing doesn’t just rip the top off. Also the angle makes it easier to grab and pull, which is better because then you can watch and make sure you’re not crushing a chicken. The only downside is that it is quite heavy an requires 2 people to pull it.

We’re pleased with this design. 70 new chicks just went into this one, after brooding in hoophouse. And then it’s off to building more of these tractors. The next big question is: Should we make them bigger? Right now we like the compact size of 4’x8′, but does it make more sense to use less material to build a larger tractor? We shall see…