Monday, August 10, 2015

Meat On Wings (Raising Meat Part 2)

It Doesn't matter where you buy poultry (waterfowl in the case of ducks) meat or if its from an organically fed source, free range, or factory farmed. All of the chickens, turkeys, and ducks raised and sold for meat are of what is called hybrids. These are animals that grow extremely fast, so fast that you have to limit them on how much they are allowed to eat or they will die of what they call "flip". Flip is when the animal has a heart attack and flips over on its back and dies. If these animals are not butchered at a young age, they will continue to grow till they can barely walk, and then they usually die of a heart attack in the end. Their heart just cannot keep up with their growth, just like a person with gigantism

The fact of that these animals grow so fast is what really concerned me. The hatcheries all state that they grow fast do to being of a special crossing of different breeds that when combined grow very fast. Well I can tell you that my mom has raised heritage breed chickens for MANY years, and has produced an awful lot of crosses. Now I have observed that the cross bred animals are usually a lot healthier and hardier than the pure bred birds, but what she has never had pop up is a fast growing or giant bird

I just don't believe it. I am a digger, I will dig for information if I don't believe what I am being told, and that's one reason that I love the world wide web. You wouldn't think that you could find such information online, but its like that saying that "The easiest place to hide something is in plan sight". I started out finding this blog post/ article on Freedom Rangers  The guy that wrote the post goes on to say that the parent stock comes from Hubbard Hatchery, so I looked them up. Their "About Us" page sounds rather scary to me. What is this Multi-species thing about?! Two chickens from two different breeds are still the same species.  but I wanted to find something even more blatant. Under their Hubbard History page you will see all the yucky companies they are linked with. It says that in March of 2005 they became part of Group Grimaud. So I clicked over to Group Grimaud. They are a "We are the solution to world hunger" company. They have a little Q&A book on their website here is pages 22 and 23 it says that they "offer a wide range of products to large operators producing animal proteins who are also multi-species". Again what is this multi-species? Am I misunderstanding this?

Do your own research, and  draw your own conclusions. Have you ever heard of Belgian Blue Cattle? They are quite freakish too.  I don't like these companies playing God with the animals. You hear all the time about  things like "Oh they made sheep that glows in the dark from some gene they took out of a jellyfish and inserted into the sheep". Well now I guess they are easier for the coyotes and wolves to see huh. I don't trust any of these companies playing with animals or plants genes and especially not human genes. I think they are trying to ruin what God created.

Now getting back to raising animals, we have raised the Cornish Cross chickens, and we had one of the white broad breasted variety of turkeys in the past. But they are just scary, and sad. My mom decided to get some of the true Cornish chicks. They breed true and take a normal 6 months to grow. Same as any other NORMAL chicken. They are supposed to be a very meaty animal. Unfortunately the ones that she ordered weren't of very good quality, so we are going to have to find a nice big rooster to improve them.

A few months back I was wanting to get some nice big meat ducks. We already had ducks of the laying type, but I wanted a larger variety for meat. I was looking at Metzers to see what they offer for meat ducks. Something that wasn't going to be a freak variety and would breed true. Ducks grow pretty fast anyways. Well only about an hour or two later my dads friend showed up with some ducks that he had asked my mom a while back if she would be willing to take for him. He had a elderly relative that had these ducks on their property and they wanted him to remove them. When my mom had asked him what kind he said "black ducks". So she assumed they were Black Cayuga's. When we went out to see what he brought, he had cages of  black and white pied Muscovy ducks!

I was totally shocked. These are nice big meat ducks, and I hadn't even thought about this variety since most hatcheries don't sell them. It was such a wonderful blessing! And they don't quack! AND they aren't real big on water like the other ducks.

One of the ducks made a nest and hatched out a bunch of ducklings. One day I walked by the orchard and spotted her walking around with 6 ducklings. So cute! We let them be, she was doing a good job, but after a few days there were 5, then 4. So I brought the duck and babies up and put them in a chain link dog pen I had just set up for the rabbits. Perfect timing.

They have been doing great, growing good, and I think the mother feels safe being separated with her babies.

On to the turkeys. My family likes turkey meat. I'm not a big fan. Although I do prefer my turkey on a plate, because I just can't stand them out in the yard. They have to gobble over everything you say, and they poop a really big chicken poop! Don't ever wear sandals around them, they think toes are worms, and they have a thing about wanting to show off to legs if your wearing shorts. Weird creatures. But my parents wanted to get turkeys again. My Mom decided on some White Midgets this time. They breed true, and are a smaller breed. Hopefully they will be an OK fit around here.

Last but not least everything comes to an end, and for all the birds that get eaten around here its the guillotine. My dad made this gizmo for my mom. He didn't like having to chop the birds heads off with the ax. It bothered him, and my mom didn't think she could handle an ax and holding the bird with the other hand, so he made her a handy dandy one of a kind chicken head cutter off'er.
When my dad builds something its usually out of metal and very heavy duty. That holds true for this gadget, and it works wonderfully.

All she has to do is place the birds neck under the blade. Then....
(Notice the block of wood on the bottom. This keeps the blade from being ruined when it is pressed down.)

She presses this watchamacallit that would be hooked to the air compressor hose, and the blade will be pressed down to the board in a split second, and held there till she lets go.

Then after some scalding, plucking, and some smelly gutting we get supper.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hopping Into A New Adventure (Raising Meat Part 1)

Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
Genesis 9:3

Raising meat part 1 of 3

I have been thinking and praying long and hard for quite a while now about getting some meat rabbits. At least a year to be more exact.  It wasn't a matter of could I raise rabbits? I have raised rabbits off and on over the years since I was a child in 4-H. It was the hard fact of killing rabbits- young rabbits, that I didn't know if I could handle.

The more I have learned about store bought meat. The more I know I don't want to eat it anymore. I am absolutely disgusted by the way the animals are housed, fed and handled. I have learned that you can't even necessarily trust organically raised meat. You must ask lots of questions. Just one example. Many years back, after my mom got into raising chickens we were at a store where she was looking at some oregano oil. I asked her what she was interested in the oil for, and she told me about how the local organic chicken farmer was putting it in their chickens water to prevent them from getting sick. I looked at her shocked! From my knowledge in herbs I know that oregano oil has very strong antibiotic properties. So basically because it is an organic product, you can raise your animals on antibiotics their entire lives and still sell them as organic. Some people might say Well whats the big deal?. Antibiotics affect the animals bodies ability to make vitamin B-12. So if the animal cannot make vitamin B-12, its not going to be in their meat that you are consuming. Please correct me on this if I am wrong.

So back to the killing part. After thinking and praying on it long and hard. I do believe that I can. Of course its not something I'm going to enjoy doing, but its just one of those things that is going to have to be done if I want to know where my food is coming from. If you asked me 10 years ago when I started raising goats if I would dis-bud a baby goat? I would have told you never (I used to think it was a horribly cruel thing to do to an animal). Yet this year my mom and I dis-budded our entire batch of horned kids (probably 15 or more), and it didn't bother me anymore, but I had prayed about it for a year after this dis-budding experience a couple years ago. 

So then I had to make the decision of what breed of meat rabbit to raise. I've never liked Californian's, and New Zealand's  are also plain. Flemish are too big, more like feeding a dog. I decided on the Standard Rex. I have always loved Rex rabbits fur. They have a coat that is just like velvet, and they come in all different colors. So you always have a variety to look at, not just a bunch of plain white rabbits. The other thing I learned when reading about meat rabbits is that all the common meat breeds are right around the same size at the same butchering age. So whether your breeders you are feeding are Flemish Giants (that can weigh 20 lbs.) or Rex rabbits (that weigh around 8 lbs.) You will end up with approximately the same size fryer. So the larger breeds cost a lot more to feed and take longer to reach sexual maturity.
The one problem with STANDARD Rex is they are hard to find. Everyone has the mini's. I found an ad for someone selling their Standard Rex rabbits due to moving. I loaded up 3 small animal crates in the car, and my mom and I made the trip. The couple and their children were extremely nice, and they also raised the rabbits for meat and fur, but were moving into a subdivision. I was a little worried that they only raised them for pets, and would ask me what I was wanting to raises them for. So I was relieved when we got there and the husband was saying what good meat they are.

I had planned to get 2 or 3 does depending on what was available, but I got the 3 does picked out when the wife said that for $75 we could take all the rabbits we want and she would give us two new cages to take them home in, since I didn't come prepared for that many animals. Wow! I was blown away. I looked at my Mom and she was like "OK". The woman just wanted us to take them all, as she had been getting a lot of responses to her ad that were scaring her. So she really didn't want to deal with having anyone else come out to their place. So her husband and kids immediately gathered up two cages and got them cleaned up to put in our car and loaded up their two does with each ones babies, and I picked out a gorgeous 13 week old buck, and loaded up the rest of the young does into my carriers. Whatever we left behind the husband was going to be butchering that evening, so we took the does and left them with the rest of the 13 week old bucks. I'm sure they made a lovely meal that night, and the rabbits were out grazing on the lawn, so they had a nice last meal also. Before we left she even gave me the bag of rabbit food, since they weren't going to need it, and also the crates she bought for nest boxes.

She said she picked these storage containers up at Walmart to use for nest boxes, and they worked great and clean out easily too. Unlike conventional nest boxes that you have to replace the soiled wood bottom all the time.

My mom and I left in shock of what a blessing we had just received. We actually didn't even know how many rabbits we had in our car till we got home and my dad counted them all after we unloaded them. 17! Then I took the buck out of the carrier for my dad to pet. His reply "That's the softest rabbit I have ever felt!" With a look of surprise.

I didn't want to keep these rabbits in tiny little cages, so we put some in these big parrot aviaries. I will probably have to make some changes to prevent them from digging out (some rabbits are diggers and some aren't. It just depends on the animal.) I want them to have the nicest housing possible were they can get plenty of exercise. One of the problems with the Rex breeds are that they don't have as thick of fur on their feet as normal rabbits, because their hair is shorter. This can result in sore hocks if the rabbit spends to much time on wire. Another reason why I preferred to put them on the ground. One of the does did have sore hocks when we got her, so I have started putting some herbal salve on her feet, and hopefully she will heal up nicely.

This is the doe with the sore hocks. She has a very sweet temperament, and didn't give me any problems with putting salve on her sore feet. I sure wouldn't want to sit still for someone to mess with my feet if they looked like hers. (I don't want it to sound as though she was miss treated though. The people had obviously recognized the problem, because they had moved her to the ground. I just didn't feel a need to ask them about it, since I saw it and new what it was and that this is an issue with this breed.)

 This is actually my favorite color. Castor.

 Some babies.

 The other litter of babies in a aviary my mom never finished building. Bonus for the rabbits!

 Lets not get into the benefits of rabbit manure to the garden, but there will be a lot of that around here. My brother already has a request in for his garden.

 This is the gorgeous opal (Edit: I have since learned that he is a blue otter) buck I picked out. I will probably find a different buck later on, because this one is related, and I have noticed that the two adult does aren't as big as they should be. This could be due to being bred before they finished growing, at least that's what I'm hoping. So I think I will find a really big buck to breed up there size.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015


Hello all!
Recently I was asked to do a interview by Shining Stars Magazine. If you have never heard of Shining Stars it is a lovely Christian magazine aimed at unmarried young ladies, but is enjoyed by ladies of all ages.
If interested in taking a peak over at the interview it is posted here

I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Yummy Salad Dressing

If your a cilantro lover like me, you will love this dressing.

I have had a great love for creamy cilantro dressing, but it contains 2 things that I can't stomach anymore milk and cheese (well dairy of course). So I decided to do an internet search and find out what all it contains, and then make a tummy friendly version, that would hopefully taste good. I have to say that when I made this dressing I surprised myself.
Here is what I whipped up in our Nutri-Bullet.

Dairy-Free Creamy Cilantro Dressing
1 cup mayo
1 bunch rinsed, minced cilantro (you want it to be wet so it will add a little water)
juice from 1/2 lemon or 1 whole lime
1 teaspoon raw apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon each: cayenne, black pepper, and cumin
1/2 cup diced sweet onion
1/2 cup Daiya pepperjack shreds

Blend and enjoy! This will make enough to fill a 16 ounce jar.

*I am not a fan of artificial cheese, but it works well in this recipe. I am thinking that I am going to try making it with canned white beans in place of the cheese, because we really don't have any other reason to buy artificial cheese than to make this dressing. If you find a substitute that works well, please let me know.*


Sunday, April 19, 2015

how to blade shear a sheep

A couple months ago I bought Burgon and Ball sheep shears at the local feed store for a hefty price, and ordered a blade sharpener off of ebay. I had it in my head after reading our sheep book and looking at the drawings of how to hold a sheep for shearing, that my 128 lb. self was actually going to be able to hold a 100 lb. sheep in those positions. HaHa!

Well I got my shears, piece of plywood to shear on, a broom, plastic bags, and a cart to set the wool in. My Mom joined me in this venture to assist me, and we both quickly found out I am NOT strong enough to hold a 100 lb. sheep in any sort of position, but laying it on its side.

My Mom helped hold the sheep down, while I sheared. It took us about 2 1/2 hours to get her done, but I didn't cut her once, and I had very little second cuts (undesirable short cuts of fiber from shearing over the same spot twice). Her fleece is beautiful. We had thought that these two ewes we have were some sort of Suffolk cross, but we got to looking through our fleece book and the breed that they resemble the closest is the Dorset Down, both in body and fleece. Which is really funny that they are identical because they came from two separate breeders.

 What happened to you?
We also noticed after shearing these girls, that they were not pregnant. So I guess we won't be getting any lambs from them till next year, but as to why they didn't conceive? I don't know. Maybe they were to young. I didn't ever notice them to come into heat, but I did see the ram breed them. So thought we would be getting lambs. Oh well. There is always next year. 

Isn't that some gorgeous crimp?

I washed some of the fiber, dyed it with food coloring, and set it out to dry on a rack on the lawn.

Then I spun some of it into a thick and thin crazy colored yarn.


Friday, March 27, 2015

28 and counting!

We have had quite the eventful year in kidding with 28 kids born, and split even on bucklings and doelings. We only have one doe left to kid, but she's not due till July.

 This no name doe had her kids out in the back of the pasture on a beautiful day. They were already up and nursing when we discovered them.

 Jubilee checking on her kids.

 The First two kids born playing "sliding down the shed".

 Dolly, our spoiled bottle baby, lounging on the couch. She was born with severely contracted tendons (caused by lack of room in the womb) in her front legs. We have been splinting them, and it is working to stretch them out. She was also born with a waddle on her right ear, so cute.

 27 kids playing before the sun goes down. My favorite time of day to watch them.  There is a large hole in the ground from the squirrels, and they have turned it into a play spot. Kids will play with anything.

 Black twin doelings from Henna. Both turned out polled, and oh so gorgeous.

 My little buddy. Everywhere I go in the pasture he is right at my side or jumping on my leg trying to get me it pet him. He is soooo sweet, I hope we can find him a home as a breeder. I would hate to see him go for meat.
One more picture of everyone romping.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Just Some February Randomness

1. I found some brand new paperback Elsie books by Martha Finley for sale at the library. I didn't know what they were, but they looked interesting. They had books 6-9. When I got home I called my Sister and told her about my find. It turned out she has the whole series and loves them. She just so happened to have extra's of books 1-5 in hardcover. Lucky me!

2. Our Library bookstore had all the Daphne Du Maurier books for $0.50 each. I have only listened to her book Rebecca on tape a few years back. I loved it, then got the film and was disappointed. I hate it when they ruin books trying to making them into a movie. I think I will have lot's of books to read during the hot time of day this Summer.

3 & 4. Dandelion. This is how I get greeted every time I walk out to the pasture. 

5. Merlot. His lazy self. In one of his usual lounging spots. He's 15 years old, and I have never gotten a good picture of him. If I point the camera at his face, he will close his eyes.