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Pastured Poultry Processing Preparation




Colonel’s Blog, Earthdate 11 May 2023…

Hey Y’all!


Happy Thursday from Air2Ground Farms! The top pic is us enjoying the rain during rounds this morning. Isn't Shelley beautiful! The additional sparkle around her left eye just adds a little more character to her beauty. Her eye is healing very well. It started raining shortly before bedtime and by the time we went out for rounds, it had rained 1.6 inches! It continued raining off and on throughout the day. At the heart of the regenerative issue is farming grass and nothing is better to a grass farmer than a good rain followed by sunshine. It looks like it will rain more overnight. The animals are all good on the farm today. We separated the guardian dogs from the ewes by putting a sheep net along the end of their paddock and put the dogs nearest to the road, the most likely approach of the most likely predators…other dogs. This allows them to still do their jobs but gives the ewes the chance to have their lambs without being bothered by the puppies. The middle three pics are of the beef calves so far this season. The first is the newest bull calf and the next two are the six calves so far this year, to include the newest bull calf. All are doing very well, to include Holly who has now rejoined the beef herd. She is quite adept at “bumming.” She learned how to sneak a sip from other moms and since the Devons are a dual purpose beef/milking breed they don’t seem to mind sharing with the orphan. The piglets were all still in their new paddock this morning, a relief since this was their first night with just electric wire and net as a fence. They are growing already. It’s amazing how quickly they change. The beef chicks are also doing really well and will be ready to move outside to the pasture as soon as the current batch moves on to freezer camp. The bottom pic is today's look at the hill I've been showing, following the rain last night.


We spent the majority of the day going to a used, well…stuff store. We left with a grocery cart, a fan for the milk barn, some drying racks for milk jars, and two used sliding glass-top ice cream freezers. The grocery cart will be perfect for moving the glass milk jars from the pantry, where we strain and pour up the fresh milk to the garage, where the milk fridge resides. It will also come in handy when we are moving from freezer to freezer in the barn collecting meat for sale. The two freezers are the real reason we set out. Last year, we processed a batch of 80 beef chickens for ourselves. We wanted to see if we could do it, if we enjoyed it, if the birds would taste good, and to put meat in our freezer. The answer to all questions was a resounding yes, and we still have a few birds in the freezer. We were successful at brooding, pasturing, and processing the birds. At just over 10 weeks, they weighed 4-5 pounds dressed. They taste amazing! It is a great feeling to start with day-old chicks and end with close to 400 pounds of meat in the freezer 2 1/2 months later. It also gave us the opportunity to learn. One of the things we learned was that we needed a better/easier way to get the birds their initial cool-off immediately after processing. We kicked around tons of ideas and settled on chest freezers. They all have a drain in the bottom which will allow us to get rid of the water. We will fill the two freezers about 1/2 to 2/3 full with water prior to processing day. We will then turn the freezers on and let them start cooling. The plan is that by processing day, there will be a couple of inches of ice around the edges of the freezers and some really cold water. One of the most important things is to get the birds’ temperature down. If we were to just shrink-wrap them and put them into the deep freezers immediately, it warms the freezers and then takes a long time for the birds to freeze. This method should allow us to get the birds really cold, then bag them, then freeze them quickly in our other freezers. We have been planning for this for over a year, including our practice round, getting our poultry exemption and meat handling certificates from the state, and now prepping for the upcoming processing day. Everyone who has tasted the chicken has been amazed at how different from store-bought chicken and delicious they are. We wish we could share them with all of our friends and family, but unfortunately, the laws will only allow us to make sales inside the state of Missouri. Pastured poultry processing preparation!


Local Farm Report for 10 May 2023:

Harvest:

27 Chicken eggs

21 Duck eggs

0 Goose eggs

6 1/4 Gallons of milk


Cheers!


Psycho & Shelley

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Auntie Fiat
Auntie Fiat
May 11, 2023

It is hard to believe Ozark county looked like winter just a short while ago. So lush now!


Shelley's eye is looking great. I don't see the Purple Heart ribbon on her uniform yet....


Won't lie...not too disappointed that you cannot sell the chickens out of state. More for your neighbors!! 😃

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Things are greening up very nicely! Purple Hearts take a long time to process...;-). We really are excited for everybody to taste the birds. We think you are going to love them.

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