Art of Proprietation

Monday, November 22, 2010

And then there were four

We're down to four turkeys still kicking. There are still four not kicking in the market fridge pending pickup.

We did twenty five turkeys this spring. We lost five chicks in the first week, no losses beyond that. We have been doing a slaughter day each week for about a month. Hand plucking makes for long slaughter days. But having an extended window for slaughter has meant we met the window for each customer's desired weight. We had requests for < 12 to 22 pounds dressed weight. Our smallest bird was a little over twelve, the largest has been 23.5 lbs dressed.

I talked to a nearby farmer and he talked about having commercial white toms coming in at 39lbs live weight, which I would guess would be close to 30 lbs dressed. I am assuming the major difference from his max weight to ours is more grain. Interestingly, it sounds like his hens weighed in at about the same as ours. Whatever led to his big toms did not translate to bigger hens.

We have sold 12 birds this year. Our goal had been 10, but it seemed like a good idea to satisfy our available market. That's without any advertising outside word of mouth. My wife does all the selling, connections she makes at the farmer's markets and the community. After giving two to family, two for the harvest party, one for our thanksgiving and another one at Christmas, there are two for our freezer to enjoy later. I like eating roast turkey, its a big meal that carries us for days after that isn't hard to do. And during the winter, it is hard to beat the way it satisfies hunger.

We are thinking about renting a plucker for the final slaughter day. We want to try one out as we think a plucker is in our future. I'd like to get an idea for how the different styles compare. We have some roosters that will help make it worthwhile. I think about making one of those Wizbang pluckers, but I haven't gotten up the motivation.

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hard Frost

We've been getting Hard Frosts. A little late, but they have finally come. We're not complaining, it allowed us to finish out the ambitious farmer's market season with a lot more produce. And more time to prepare for winter is always in short supply.

But with the hard frost has come the annual transition of our water system. In the spring, we setup our garden supply and various collection and storage sites. We have a spring that gravity feeds to the house garden and a cistern that eventually supplies the market garden. The Market Garden is uphill, so that involves about 400 feet of pipe, a pump, a battery and solar panel / charger.

We also supply water to the poultry and the goats. The poultry are close enough to the house that we just have a spigot in the yard off the old well. For the Goats, I use an old Studebaker truck rear end trailer to tow two fifty gallon drums of clean water. In the summer I need to refresh the goat water about once a week. In the cooler season, I can go two weeks.

With the hard frost, these things change, though. All the tanks need to be emptied, lines drained. The goat water and poultry spigots are generally frozen when I go up to milk early in the morning. If I wait until the afternoon, they usually have thawed. We'll make do for the goats, adding a blanket over the barrels and valve at night. Soon enough we'll get out the heated base for the poultry. Eventually, we'll end up hauling water out from the kitchen when the outdoor faucet no longer thaws. It's not the end of the world, just the wreck of a barbie Ferrari. In the picture at the top, I was using steam from my coffee water to thaw out the pipe for the goat water. It worked after a fashion, but it took a long while. I have blankets over the tank tonight. If I really get serious, I would go with a valve directly off the tank opening, drape it in plastic and insulate the valve over night. I think I'll move the goats down to the house for the winter before it goes that far. With any luck.