June 18, 2012
As anyone that farms knows....there's lots to do! Well, with ORF being the host farm for this year's upcoming Kunekune Conference, we have been busy indeed. Mending fences and replacing wire has been a time consuming chore and getting the pastures set up to rotate the pigs and cattle seems to never get completed...we've had cows get through the fence and wander into the nursery next door. What do they say...strong fences make good neighbors?
It is exciting to hear that folks are planning their time to be with us in August. Can't wait to meet you all in person and share the pigs with you. It will be a very good time.
April 24, 2012
Lots has been happening, here, on the farm. The goats have gone back home...one kidded while weeding our front pen....we have piglets on the ground and more on the way.....our Olde English Hereford cow, Callie, produced a gorgeous little bull calf...we lost her sister, Sally, about the same time....the Cornish Cross Chickens were harvested and are now in the freezer.....Jim painted the inside of the chicken house and hung my vintage nesting boxes.....we added the "Three French Hens" to the flock....and our Olde English Southdowns are to arrive in a few short weeks.
Giving some thought to processing the meat birds. This was a new experience for me. I had never raised any chickens or turkeys for meat and so I ventured into the world of Joel Salatin's "pastured profits" by raising some Cornish Cross chickens. I knew that they were fast growing and would get very large very quickly, but I was not prepared for this. In Joel's book, YOU CAN FARM, he advises using this type of bird to offer to beginning farmers the best way to turn a profit and to do so very quickly. The reality of their rate of growth would not have been so very apparent to me except that I had ordered my heritage breed chickens in the same shipment. The difference between the two types of birds is simply amazing. I have been told that the Cornish Crosses MUST be slaughtered between 6 to 8 weeks - that's it? - or they will begin to have respiratory issues, heart failure, and collapsed legs not being able to maintain the rate of growth or size. Now, that's not normal, folks! I have also been told that the texture of their meat will be simply wonderful, but that the heritage breed birds are much more flavorful. I have heard Joel Salatin state that he does not have a market for heritage breed birds which is why he recommends the Crosses. I do want to encourage those of you who raise the heritage breeds, however. If a farmer has a passion for heritage breeds, it is possible with some determination, to seek and find a niche market. We have done it with our pigs against advice to the contrary. There are many people who do appreciate the slower growth, historic value, and natural behaviors of the old world breeds. I found it very interesting that my Crosses did not venture far from their pen when turned out to free range each morning. The did not scratch the ground and I only saw one or two that were actually eating grass. The Cornish Crosses are very sweet and docile, really a pleasure to raise, but the fact that they cannot duplicate themselves nor even live past a mere 8 weeks means that they are not sustainable. Having said that, I do see the value in raising this type of bird....especially for the beginning farmer because of their ease of raising and their ability to get you product and profit in a very short time.
I am happy that I tried this experiment, but I don't know if I will duplicate a flock of Cornish Crosses in the future. My plan, for now, will be to utilize the heritage breeds and have them produce great tasting, fresh, local, eggs and meat. This is a good, healthy, and sustainable way to go........
March 17, 2012
St. Patty's Day
Boer goats arrived at the farm today. Going to take care of an overgrown pen and have a vacation from their real owners, Dana and Amanda "Czubs". Kathy and Dean are grateful to have the natural mowers instead of breaking out the machine. The goats are grateful for the grass and shrubs! Looks like the girls are going to kid while they're here. Olde Reminisce Farms is going to be bursting at the seams with babies this year....exciting.
March 12, 2012
Yesterday Aria wanted to meet the big chicks....aka - the meat birds.
She has always been drawn to chickens, pointing at the various rooster decor around the house and farm. She wants to hear me crow! The Cornish Cross meat birds are so big and fast growing that they are very laid back and gentle. Good for little girls to enjoy. The birds seemed to like our precious Aria, too. Notice the pink skirt....she does own a pair of overalls even tho mom swore that would never be. She's gramma's little farmgirl.
March 10, 2012
Today, we added the Maran breed to our flock of rare and heritage breed chickens. We are raising Dominique, Araucana, Golden Laced Wyandotte, as well as the French Maran. These breeds are all egg layers and will give us a wonderful variety of colored shells. The Araucana are known for their pale blue and light green colored eggs while the Maran is known to produce eggs of a dark chocolate brown color.
In addition to the egg layers, we have our Cornish Crosses that are now big enough and feathered enough to turn outside. They are large and fast growing and remind me of little dinosaurs. I think they have a fabulous temperament and are easy to keep being too heavy to fly and very friendly. They will be butchered by eight weeks of age due to their rate of growth making them break down if kept for too long.
All of our poultry are fed certified organic feeds and scraps from the kitchen. They are humanely raised outdoors, free ranging, and cage free.