Eggs Again

FullSizeRender

I am delighted that the chickens have decided to lay again!  They took a little break during the darkest time of the year, which is normal, but recently have been cranking out a few eggs a day.

Every day when Rob brings in the eggs,they are placed on the counter in a bowl.  When I get ready to wash the eggs, I place the bowl in the sink and run tepid water on them so they can soak.  Many sources say to not wash your eggs because they keep better unwashed.  Mine have chicken droppings on them, so I choose to wash them off.  Some sources say that if you are going to wash them, use lukewarm water so that the pores are not opened with hot water, impurities don’t enter, and the cold water doesn’t close the pores, trapping in the impurities.  I have no idea if that’s true, but it sounds sensible, so I use lukewarm water.

I have an old toothbrush that I use for egg washing, only.  I just gently scrub each soaked egg while holding it under a small stream of tepid water. Sometimes stains remain.  I’m fine with that.  I air-dry them on a towel and then put into cartons in the garage fridge, or into the egg keeper in the refrigerator in the kitchen.

We had to buy one 5-dozen package of eggs from Costco this winter when the chickens were not laying.  I didn’t even get them finished before they started up again, so I probably  could have survived without buying any, but we had no way of telling when they would start again.  They are very light sensitive, the days are getting longer again, and this batch of hens is less than 1 year old, so we knew they would lay some more, we just didn’t know when exactly.

Since we have been paying for feed all along, I am delighted to be entering that time of year when I have all the eggs I want.  I also give them away when I have an overabundance, so my sister is happy, too.

FullSizeRender

 

 

From Turkey to Burger

image4

On Monday morning, Rob loaded up the 18 turkeys he has been raising.  Their time had come.  With a pickup load of cages, he and Ja’Ana set off for the processing plant we use.  It is 1-1/2 hours from our home.  We use them because 1)They do an excellent job, 2)They are extremely reasonable in their pricing, 3)There aren’t many places around here that specialize in poultry.

It only took them about 1-1/2 hours to do the job.   He had 5 cut up for us to grind into turkey burger, 1 cut in 1/2 (for the 2 single people on our gift list), and the rest left whole. Rob and Ja’Ana killed the wait time in a little diner, eating breakfast and visiting.  It was good daddy-daughter time, for sure.

On the way home, they delivered turkeys to the relatives who were receiving them for Christmas. Last year, we did chickens and they were much appreciated.   Ja’Ana wisely used the time to sell pies to all the relatives–she’s earning money for a retreat she wants to go on in January, and that is the fund-raiser to help with the cost of that.  They picked Lovana up from work, and went to a friend’s house to borrow a meat grinder.  It was a long day.  They didn’t get home until around 6:30, where they got white bean chili or ham and beans from the crock pots.  (I soaked too many navy beans, so made 2 things and will freeze the extra).

The 5 whole turkeys we are keeping, plus the 1 undelivered one went into the emptied chest freezer in the garage.  The 5 cut-up ones went on ice in coolers until Tuesday morning.

FullSizeRender

On Tuesday morning, Rob cut the bones out of the breasts and thighs of the 5 turkeys.  The drumsticks and wings were frozen in zip-top bags for future meals, 2 per package.  The bones that were cut off, plus the necks and backs were frozen for broth making another day.

FullSizeRender

Then he ground it 2 times.  We had 3 of these large Tupperware bowls full of the first grind.  While he was grinding, he removed any tendons, stringy muscles, etc., whatever didn’t look like we wanted to eat it.  He ground it twice to get those undesirable things out, and also to get a good mix between the light and dark meat.

FullSizeRender

During the second grind, Ja’Ana held the bags over the end of the grinder, and the finished burger was pushed into the bags by the machine.  I wrote on the bags, twist-tied them, and generally ran back and forth, fetching and carrying things for Rob.  I also took the finished bags, bones, meat pieces, etc. to the freezer and loaded it up.  There was a pretty big mess to clean up afterwards.

When we were done, we had 32 approximately 1-pound packages (we did not weigh, but filled to a marked line on the bag) and Rob made 2 pans of meatloaf.  We also have 5 whole turkeys, 10 drumsticks and 10 wings.  I will get a lot of broth one of these days, and I will pressure can it into both pints and quarts.  It was a very productive day and my 1 empty freezer is now full with the fruits of Rob’s labors.

Baby Pigs

image3

Today, we purchased 5 baby Hampshire/York cross pigs from a lady on Craig’s list.  They were $90 each, which is a good price around here.  1 is for our freezer, and the other 4 are for other people to buy.  All but one are pre-sold.  One year, Rob had a baby pig die from tetnus, which is rare, but from then on, he has always bought an extra one just in case.  He has never had trouble selling the extra pork.  The 4 pigs that are going to be purchased will bring in enough money to pay the expenses for the 5th pig, which we will keep.  So, for his time, (which is substantial), we will have a “free” pig for our freezer.

Rob put clean straw into the pen, which has not been used for about 2 years.  He checked the fences to make sure no holes had developed.  Baby pigs are very small and can get out easily, even through the smallest opening.  The little shed where he stores hog feed needed some work, too.  He re-fastened the tin roof, which had blown part way off in a windstorm since the last time he raised pigs.  Inside the little shed, half is an area where the dog can get in out of the elements.  The other half holds the pig food.  Rob removed all debris, trash, empty bags, etc. that had accumulated.  He bought a ton of natural hog feed from the local feed store, where they mill their own.  It is not organic food, which is wonderful, but raises the cost of the pigs to more than we can afford.  It is natural, and very competitive in price to other, less attractive feed.  He got a reduction in price because he bought a ton.  If he can figure out a way to bring his own containers another time, he will save even more.

The pigs will be fed on a diet of natural pig feed, supplemented by vegetables and fruits.  Sometimes Rob buys bread that is too old for the store to sell.  He was able to get our van full for $20-$25, but that was a couple of years ago.  It will be interesting to see if that deal is still available.   Pigs are a wonderful way to raise meat in a few months because they grow quickly and taste wonderful. I’m already excited about getting some more pork into the freezer!