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Big Reds

Colonel's Blog, Earthdate 19 Feb 2023...

Hey Y'all! Check out our newest video, posted yesterday: Bull practices for olympic hurdles.

Good morning and happy Sunday! It was a cool, frost on the ground, but not frozen sunny morning. All of the animals are doing very well this morning. The lambs are responding well to their new Brome hay. They are stuffing their little bellies completely full and then laying around ruminating which is exactly what they should be doing. The beef cows are good, especially the new bull calf. He and mom got separated once yesterday and we helped get them back together. Later in the day, we watched him learning how to run, jump, buck, etc. in circles around his mom. The Devons are very good patient and tolerant mothers. At one point during the day, we saw the mom with new bull calf and year-old heifer calf all laying down together, really cute. Importantly, she weaned the year-old calf prior to the new one being born, a trait we really appreciate. We cleared our list of things to do yesterday. Shelley made a delivery to town and picked up sweet-feed for the orphan calf (we named her Holly). I was able to get the tractor fixed and it only required one adjustment to fine-tune the shift points. We quickly got some things done that required the tractor. We are going to do an in-house project for the next couple of weeks. We moved in before completing our bar area so we are going to get it put together. Joyous update...Holly ate a bit of the sweet feed last night and this morning, but more importantly, she decided to take the bottle! The pics today are of Shelley and Holly this morning while she was having her breakfast. We decided against the milk replacer and just used fresh warm Jersey milk from Happy and Betty. We slept better last night knowing she had some feed and milk in her belly. We had some bottle calves Fall of 2021 and had tragic results with a couple that refused to take a bottle, so we were quite concerned when Holly was refusing the bottle.

"Oh, BEEEEP!" was our reaction to an email late last week. In order to try to ensure our requests are fulfilled, we ordered our meat chickens for this year at the end of the Fall last year. It seemed so far in the future that when we got the email saying "Your poultry order is shipping soon." we were caught a bit off guard. In the Fall of 2021, we ordered a variety of different 'dual purpose' roosters and a couple of 'meat' roosters in an attempt to find the breed we wanted to raise for our own meat. We ended up with 25 or so different kinds of birds with a clear winner for us, even before processing the group. We chose the Murray's Big Red Broiler, a great pasture bird and excellent forager. They freakishly outgrew the other breeds, like by day 4 they were twice as big and never slowed down. Last spring, when it came time for us to practice our poultry operations, we bought 100 Big Reds. We lost a few the first week when the temps dropped lower than we expected but by June, we processed 82 birds for our freezer. We kept them in a brooder for just under 4 weeks. We then moved them into a Joel Salatin-style chicken tractor on the pasture. We fed them fermented, GMO-free, broiler ration and moved them to fresh ground daily. 10 weeks after they showed up, we processed the birds and the majority of them weighed 5 pounds processed and ready for the freezer--yes, 400+ pounds of meat in the freezer. We have a chicken scalder and an automatic plucker that makes quick work of the feathers. The chicken tastes amazing, WAY better than what you buy at the store. We were so excited with the results that we decided this year, we will offer small batches of poultry for sale to our local friends and family. We decided to run 4 different batches of 75 birds each. That will allow us to maximize the space in our single brooder and chicken tractor and we gave ourselves a 2-3 week break in July. All of that said, the email was a wake-up call that spring is on the way and so are the Big Reds!

Shelley's YouTube Short today is: Jersey calf enjoying her first brushing. Be sure to subscribe and share our videos on your pages.

Local Farm Report for 18 Feb 2023:


26 Chicken eggs

12 Duck eggs

1 Goose egg

4 1/2 Gallons of milk


6 Dozen chicken eggs

1 1/2 Gallons of milk

5 Bacon

3 Jowl Bacon

8 Ham Cutlets

8 Rib Chops


Rich & Shelley

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