Tag Archives: pastured poultry

How Covid-19 is Affecting Us & Our Farm

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When all this craziness started my first thought was “Oh no, they’re going to close down the market.”  We sell at the OKC Farmers Public Market every Saturday and a huge chunk of our income comes from there.  At first, I didn’t think too much into anything else.  I didn’t truly understand what was coming.  A week or two later and I began to realize this was serious.  People were dying.  Stores were out of everything.  And people were stocking up on our chicken and beef products like crazy.  We have not only been receiving orders on our online farm store, but through text, Facebook, & phone calls.  We were overwhelmed by all of the support for our little local farm.  But at the same time, we were running out of inventory.  We only have 2 chicken houses, which can hold around 350 chickens each.  We schedule our processing dates months in advance and only have the capacity to take chicken to the butcher about every 5 weeks.  We were trying to figure how to to raise more chickens…which is still in the discussion phase.  We also ran out of beef.  We only started raising beef (for resale) a couple years ago and are still in the early stages of growing that side of our business.  We didn’t plan on taking any to the processor until late summer, but we have one that will be going this week to help with inventory.  It’s exciting and a little overwhelming too.  We love that people are starting to realize local farmers are more reliable and that they are getting the community’s support right now.

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Pasture-raised chickens

In the past couple weeks farmers market has leveled off a bit and has been up and down some.  I think people are more afraid to get out.  The market is doing a great job at enforcing both vendors and customers to comply with cdc guidelines.  We wear gloves and curbside pickup has been encouraged. Most customers are wearing masks.  They are not allowed to touch anything on our tables, and only we can bag their items.

Unfortunately, our restaurant sales have completely stopped and one of our regulars in OKC had to shut down for the time being. I’m concerned that this will negatively affect our vegetable sales since we sell a lot of produce to restaurants.  Hopefully our local deliveries and farmers market will be an outlet for them, as long as market continues to stay open, which is a concern of mine.  My heart hurts for the local restaurants in our community.  We know a lot of the owners and chefs personally and this has been so hard for them.

But we are still farming hard.  We spent the entire day yesterday planting and making more beds for more veggies to go in.  We want nothing more than to be able to offer local and nourishing food to the people of Oklahoma during this time of crisis.  We’re not going anywhere!  We’re making adjustments and changes as needed and I think we are all in new territory…but at least we’re in it together.

Personal Life:

When this first began I was just thankful that we live so far away from everything.  We are already very isolated living 30 minutes away from the closest town.  We raise our own food and we are mostly self-sustainable. We already homeschool our daughter so we’re good to go in that regard.  But as this has continued it’s getting harder.  Eden and I go to story time at our local library every Thursday and that’s canceled.  Dance class is cancelled and I had to tell Eden her recital will not be happening next month.  When we do have to go to the grocery store, I go in and leave Eden and Chad in the car.  Eden throws a tantrum every time because she loves to go into the stores.  She’s been staying at her Nana & Papa’s on the weekends because we don’t think she should be going to market right now.  Every time we tell Eden she can’t do something she asks if it’s because of “the sickness.”  It’s funny, but not funny.  Her little 4 year old mind just can’t comprehend the situation.  We’re trying to add in some extra fun things, including a hike and camping trip on the property later this week!

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Oh ya know…just painting our door for fun! 

I’m trying to not let fear have a hold of me.  I’ve stopped watching the news so much.  It’s scary to think that a loved one could get this virus and die.  It’s overwhelming to think of all the elderly people across our nation locked in their homes so lonely.  And the medical staff working so hard.  All of this is unreal.

But this small local farm is still here, planting and feeding animals daily, and our family is doing the best we can with our current situation to keep on keeping on.

 

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.    ~ John 14:27

 

 

Happenings on the Farm

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I Don’t Take It For Granted

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Okay y’all…I know I am spoiled rotten!  I am truly blessed to have my in-laws around to help take care of Eden…well and basically everything.  Sometimes I’m even embarrassed at how much they do for us, especially in our culture of independence.  I honestly don’t think God intended for families to go their own separate ways as they do in American culture.  I am very thankful I have a wonderful relationship with my in-laws, because I know that’s not always the case.  But more than anything, I am so thankful Eden has them to love on her, teach her values, and to make unforgettable memories together.

So Miss Eden Grace did not stay they night with them or anyone else until she was 26 months old.  I had horrible postpartum anxiety (though I didn’t realize it for many months after she was born) and I nursed her until she was almost two.  I didn’t want to leave her with anyone…ever.  But Chad and I were planning to attend a farm conference out of state and Eden couldn’t come so on Thanksgiving 2017 I let Eden stay the night with my in-laws for the first time…and the rest is history!  No but really…she has stayed almost every weekend with them sine then!  I have a mix of mom guilt, gratitude, and liberation.  During the week I pretty much take care of Eden all by myself, so it’s such a blessing to have the weekend to be alone and get refreshed…and actually get things done.

I don’t know if any other moms are like this, but when Eden isn’t home I get some kind of extraterrestrial burst of energy.  I am like the energizer bunny on steroids!  (She rode in the tractor for two hours yesterday and I went crazy working in the yard!) On Friday evenings Chad and I normally get things ready for farmer’s market, eat dinner, and sometimes watch a show, and then go to bed early.  (We have a secret: Eden still sleep in our bed…shhhhhh…don’t tell anyone…but it’s nice to have the bed to ourselves on the weekends…our backs definitely hurt less when we wake up).  On Saturday Chad leaves the farm at 6:15am to get to farmer’s market and my father-in-law helps me do all the morning chores.  It takes two people to do our chores since we move the chicken houses every morning.  After chores, I normally clean house, pay bills, and fold and put away all the laundry that piled up on my kitchen table during the week (that’s when I turn into the energizer bunny!).  This morning my father-in-law and I mowed the yard too.  It also takes two people to mow our yard.  One person mows and the other moves vehicles, tractors, and Chad’s large collection of pallets laying around the yard (insert eye-roll here).

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Selfie with the hens! Farm hair…don’t care!

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Our pastured chickens!  One person pulls the house to fresh grass with the tractor and the other gets inside the house and shoos the chickens forward so they don’t get ran over.  This is one of our two houses.

When Chad gets home from farmers market he’s normally pretty exhausted so we do evening chores and then we try to make Saturday evenings our time of rest.  We got obsessed with reading and watching Outlander so we got the shows on DVDs and watched three seasons over the summer!

Eden always has a great time with her Nana and Aunt B over the weekend.  They go visit her great grandparents in the next town, go to the park, and on Sunday she goes to church with Nana (on the Sundays I go to church I pick her up and bring her to church with me).

I know my in-laws don’t mind keeping her most weekends, and I know Eden LOVES every moment of it.  However, I feel guilty.  I know there are so many moms out there who don’t get a break.  I know my mother-in-law is tired from working all week (though I’ve asked her to make sure to let me know if she wants me to keep her).  I don’t take it for granted that I get the weekend to myself, and that Chad and I can get some alone time together.

When I loaded her up in my father-in-law’s Tahoe yesterday evening I was trying hard to fight back the tears.  I asked her if she was sure she wanted to go.  It’s not always easy to send her away for the weekend.  I miss her snuggles and wildness, but I know the break makes me a better mom…and at least my house is clean for a few hours!  I know I need to relinquish the mom guilt and simply have a grateful heart for her Nana and Papa and my time of rest…or productivity! 😉

 

Chicken Chores

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Chicken Chores

Since Chad was out of town Sunday afternoon until late Tuesday night Eden and I were responsible for taking care of all the hens (with lots of help from Papa Dan, of course!).  Chad had the incredible opportunity to attend a meeting near Dallas with several renowned and large-scale poultry farmers.  He got home at 11pm last night and we stayed up talking until 1:30am…which is WAY past my bedtime!  But he was too excited not to share some of what he learned.  He’s floating on air right now.  I’m so thankful him and his two buddies were able to go and get refreshed and inspired together.

Since we don’t have broilers this time of year it’s not too difficult to take care of the hens (around 400 or so).  In the mornings we fill up a barrel on the tractor with water and grab a couple bags of feed and head down to their house.  Once their food and water is full, we let them out of their house to roam inside the net fence, which is currently on a nice green wheat field. (Though they hardly stay inside the fence…grrr!)  We do the same thing with our old hens, which are down in the field where our vegetables are grown.  In the afternoon we gather eggs (around 15 dozen right now), and then at dark we shut them into their houses until morning to protect them from predators.  I’m so thankful my father-in-law helped me take care of them all, especially with Eden running around picking up hens and chicken poop (ahhhh!)!  She LOVES to help with chicken chores, and has since day one!

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Eden’s new obsession of picking up chickens!

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She carried the empty water buckets to the tractor where I was filling them up.  She’s such a big helper!

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Of course I had to take an 8:30am tough farm wife selfie while waiting on the water barrel to fill up!  “I got this!”

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This girl LOVES her chickens!

Making Chicken Stock

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Making Chicken Stock

 

I started making our own chicken stock a few years ago when we started raising our own pastured chickens.  Sadly, making your own stock or broth has become a lost art, especially in the younger generations such as mine. I’m a prime example of someone who had no earthly idea how to do it. I just picked up a can of broth at the grocery store when I needed it and did not think any more about it. I didn’t think about the factory it was made in, the workers who worked in that factory, what ingredients were in the broth, or the treatment and origin of the animal used to make the broth.  It’s insane to see the difference between store bought broth and homemade.  It’s darker and thicker, and not watery like grocery store broth.  My brother-in-law (who is not a health nut AT ALL swears by this broth when he’s not feeling well!)

A friend of mine recommended the Nourishing Traditions Cookbook a few years ago, which challenges the American diet full of processed and additive-filled food. It explains the many benefits of adding homemade broth to your diet. It is known for aiding the digestive system, used to heal and prevent the flu and cold, and protection from a variety of health problems. Sally Fallon, the author of Nourishing Traditions, states, “Properly prepared meat stocks are extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow, and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is easy to assimilate. Acidic wine or vinegar added during cooking helps to draw minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium, into broth.” It’s not only extremely healthy, but perfect to eat plain or add to soups and casseroles. It’s the perfect example of food being medicine!  Some even say it works better than Tylenol!

If you are not able to purchase frames and feet from our farm, you can use a whole chicken.  Our chicken is sold in several locations around the state of Oklahoma so feel free to contact me on where to find them if you’re interested.

Because our processor packs our frames and feet in large packages I had to moderate the original recipe.

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1 pack of chicken frames-necks are included (5lbs.)

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1 pack of chicken feet (3lbs.)  The feet add extra gelatin to the broth, which adds even more nutrients.

Here’s what I use:

  • 1 pack of frames (ours are 5lbs.)
  • 1 pack of feet (ours are 3lbs.)
  • Cold filtered water (I fill the pot I’m using 3/4 full)
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bundle of carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley

I use my big canning pot right now.  I’m hoping to invest in a stainless steel stock pot soon. IMG_1289

You place all the ingredients (except parsley) in the pot. Let it stand 30 minutes to an hour and then bring it to a boil. After an hour remove any scum that rises to the top. Then reduce the heat and simmer. I let mine cook for 24 hours. The recipe says 6-24, and the longer you cook it the richer it will be.  10 minutes before it’s finished you add the parsley.

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I let it cool for a few minutes when it’s finished and then use a large slotted spoon to get out the large pieces.  Because our pot is so huge I have Chad help me pour it into a large pot through a strainer to make sure I only have the liquid broth.  I give all the chicken and veggie parts to the barn cats! After it has cooled, I ladle it into jars I’ve recycled.  When freezing in jars you have to make sure to leave plenty of room at the top so the jars do not crack, since liquid expands in the freezer. One pint of broth is 1¾ cups if using it for a recipe.

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I love the nice rich dark color it produces!

There you have it! I was really overwhelmed the first time I made broth, but it’s actually really easy. I encourage you to try it if you haven’t already. You will feel so good about yourself for accomplishing such an old tradition and nourishing your household!

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