Time to get some chickens in the freezer…

The days are getting shorter and much cooler at night and in the morning. It’s funny that the house retains the cool overnight, and it seems like layering is needed to go out, but the days are actually quite nice yet, hovering in the low 60’s to low 70’s, so much for layers, but it’s a good reminder to pull out the long johns and cooler weather jackets and hats, yup, it’s coming!

The garden is in stages. Some areas have been pulled and cleaned out, while others are still producing. The Kale and the Chard are loving the cool weather and producing fresh young leaves.

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I’ve cried uncle on the apples…I may still dry some, but there are so many on the farm I could never even dent what is out there, so I will have to be happy with enough apple sauce for next year, some in jars on the shelf, and some in the freezer. We will use the frozen first and then the canned sauce, with all the pork we will have this year, lots of applesauce seemed to be very fitting!

Coming in from the garden is not like it was earlier in the summer with a full bucket of tomatoes, arm loads of greens, and buckets of potatoes. Now it is a bucket that looks more like I went to a garden buffet…2 small summer squash, a small pile of cherry tomatoes, a few leaves of basil, 3 small cucumbers and a surprise yesterday…3 carrots! On my notes for next year’s garden is to do better with my carrot beds. Carrots were my least successful vegetable this year so three suprise carrots were a welcome addition to the buffet bucket! The volunteer tomato plants to my surprise are suddenly producing, so I’ve been collected tiny yellow pear tomatoes as well.

It has come time to face the task of getting our chickens into the freezer. This is a task that sounds easier on paper. I know it will get to become an annual task but the first time it is daunting at the very least. Thanks Eivin for your quote….”I’m not a meat eater that buys meat in a package, I am a meat eater that kills their own meat.” I will feel proud to be able to say that, and feel responsible for the meat I eat, even on such a small scale as my first 6 chickens. Although nowhere at your level Eivin. I’m a total newbie, but ‘ya have to start somewhere!! I would hope to be able to say that and will strive to fully be that meat eater some day, but it will take transition time. Sidebar note….I am taking a hunter safety class online. I don’t have a plan to hunt this year, but next year I will at least have the knowledge to make that decision. So I continue to read about butchering set up, and proper handling of the process. It has to be done soon though or it will be a very cold process outside doing this. I have made decisions on which birds to cull. I also made a decision that since our birds are well protected by fencing and a netted overhead, I really don’t need the roosters. Maybe at some point I will decide differently, but I am fine just purchasing more baby chicks next year and as they become layers the layers I am keeping now will become stewing hens. The roosters are rough on the hens during mating and they can actually be hurt in the process, and although the sound of a rooster on a farm morning is quaint and wonderful, it is less quaint when it happens all day long. My roosters haven’t figured out that early in the day and late in the afternoon is plenty enough to crow about! So with my roosters numbering 3, I had to also pick 3 hens for the freezer as well. This decision was made easily. Wyandottes I’m told are great meat birds, so those the three hens will go, leaving us with 2 laying Australorps and 3 laying Buff Orpingtons. These hens are a few weeks short of laying right now, and I am excitedly waiting for our first egg! We watched a disturbing dvd last night about the egg industry… of course it was presented by the Egg Board, so no free rangers or pastured chickens in the lot. We did learn a lot about the history of egg production and about the formation of the egg and found that part to be an amazing a beautifully designed process. Having seen that and feeling awe for the whole process, it was a dichotomy watching then the high production egg business which seemed to make a mockery of the beautiful natural process of the making of an egg. It was anything but natural, and I kept thinking of the title of Joel Salatin’s book “Folks, This ‘Ain’t Normal”. We also watched “Dive” which is about the stunning amount of food wasted from businesses everywhere. So many hungry people and so much good food going in the garbage, this one doesn’t seem hard, and it’s sad to think about all the good uses it could go to instead.

On a great note, Hubby gave the Shitake logs another soaking and seems to have motivated them to produce. It is wonderful having delicious mushrooms on the farm.

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He also foraged a giant (10 pound) Chicken of the Woods mushroom, which we are still trying to figure out how to use in enough ways! I will post a picture of it if he has one.

So with the last applesauce made, and one final batch of salsa coming up this week, the last processing may be making pureed pumpkin for pumpkin recipes, such as breads and muffins and soups during the year. Our focus is turning toward firewood gathering, kindling gathering, cold frames (my radishes, lettuces and spinach are just coming in), and securing potatoes, carrots, onions etc., from my two friendly organic farmers/neighbors, to last the winter and into the spring.

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I dried a large bowl of Jalapenos a couple of days ago…

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…that turned out to fill this small jar. But they were already great in a pot of Chicken Tortilla soup I made yesterday, and there are more out there to dry as well.

All in all, life on the farm is going well, now off to go bake granola for my baking business. It is getting to the time where I will be gearing up for my “Winter Gift Giving Jars”. This is an exciting time. Last year was a trial and this year I’ve purchased 100 jars for starters. I am looking forward to seeing the response to these!

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