Friday, January 20, 2012
Little Bit Of This And That
This is one of the meat chickens we butchered the other day. They came out quite tasty if I do say so myself! I stuffed this one with onions and sage, seasoned the outside and roasted it in my new oven. It was very juicy and plump. I think the taste was very similar to the good, organic roasters you get in the stores. Perhaps a little more texture? Not tough by any means but just not mushy? The crispy skin was very flavorful too. I took half of these (5) and froze them whole and then took the other half and cut up for frying, braising etc. I froze them according to section; legs, wings etc. Then, I took the backs and ribs that were left of these and boiled them to make stock. And it made a beautiful, golden rich broth. Now, these birds had a significant amount of meat on their backs, so I'll pull the meat off and freeze it for fajitas, pot pies etc. The skin goes in Chigger food and the bones get thrown in the wood stove. I read about this as a way to make your own bone ash. Of course, they are mixed in with wood ash but you can just sprinkle that on parts of your garden that need both.
These chickens also make several meals as it weighed in at 5 lbs. Overall I am pleased with these meat birds but I do know several things we will do different next time to differ some of the feeding costs. Despite a few of them having leg problems they were very active and acted really, well, chicken like. Not just like blobs of meat laying around. I have some ideas also to try next time for their leg issues, if we get these again. I also did some close inspection on the innards as we butchered them to check for health problems. Some had mentioned the possibility of Marek's in relation to their legs etc. so I really wanted to see what was going on inside, as Marek's has several internal symptoms. Well, everything looked fine. Clean, smooth livers and lungs. I won't go into gory details but everything inside looked healthy.
We also decided to purchase a few more hens to replace those we have lost recently. Jack found a guy not far from here who had some extra Rhode Island Reds so we got 5. I checked these out and they have been vaccinated for Marek's and one other thing that slips my mind at the moment. They are getting used to their new digs slowly. They guy that had them kept them up in a big coop all the time so I don't know if they ever got to go out on grass and such. They are a little scrawny looking right now, and mostly missing their tail feathers, but we think they'll fill out fine after they adjust to life here.
The garlic is poking it's first tendrils up due to this unseasonably warm weather. I bought 2 different types this past fall from and organic supplier, Southern Exposure. I have been very pleased with their seeds and such so far. They are always very robust and healthy. I would highly recommend them if you live in the southern regions. These are "Inchelium Red" and "Red Toch" and are softneck types. I am very anxious to see how they do. I amended their beds well with chicken poo, compost and bone meal before planting.
And last but not least, here is Goober, aka Basement Chicken. Goober gets to go out everyday, if it's not raining, and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. I was putting him in a chicken tractor but decided the best place might be the garden. Now, Goober can stand up and walk, and even run at times, but his legs are kinda weak so he sits a lot. He has recently discovered the catnip plant and I often find him face down in it. He really likes it and he can sit right next to his meat brothers (or sisters) and chat with them. Even though we have cut the horde down to 8 I'm still kinda hesitant to put Goober back in with them. I'm afraid they might trample him. As I said, they are very active. Jack and I often joked that it would be a horrible thing if one of us had ever tripped and fallen down in their run. It would be like fluffy, white piranha. Anyway, since naming Goober and such I think he might be the resident pet chicken but he does have a job. Due to his infirmity, he doesn't scratch like most chickens and therefore doesn't tear my plants up. So, he gets to forage the garden and pick weeds and poop. He also is very quick to snatch up any bugs if they are unfortunate enough to wander too near him. I'm thinking he may be my squash bug secret weapon. Just set him down next to the plant and wham!! They won't know what hit 'em!
Jack has made the first efforts to put in an asparagus bed also. I really want to get that going this spring along with many new fruit trees. First though, I've got to finish this kitchen! My range hood came in the other day so I've got to get busy on that. So much stuff to do!!