November has been busy, but also tasty! I’ve been butchering our first batch of meat chickens and let me tell you that is a JOB. Somehow TS has decided that the butchering is my job, because I’m “so good at it” (insert eye roll here). There’s really not much to it – just a lot of mess and time. The only really gross part is pulling out the digestive tract which seriously stinks. That and the scalding…once you’ve dunked a couple dirty chicken carcasses in a pot of almost-boiling water it starts smelling like poop soup. The scalding makes the feathers just slide out so plucking goes quickly. I really don’t like doing it, but when I think about all the jobs on the farm that are by default TS’s jobs (due to the required strength and/or construction skills needed) I guess gutting a bunch of chickens a few times a year isn’t that bad of a job for me to have. At least he does the actual killing. Ok I hold the feet, he swings the ax. No they don’t “run around like chickens with their heads cut off” but they do kick/flop/flip/bounce. I’m glad the kill is very quick and they don’t feel what happens after. These chickens are SO tasty. I don’t know if its the fresh mountain air or just me feeling good about how they are raised, but whatever it is they taste amazing. While the chickens are decreasing in number, the baby bunnies are growing up fast. They are now big enough for the kids to hold and are just SO cute! I’ll try to remember to take some photos soon.
TS has been busy keeping the kids occupied while I’m butchering. He’s also done a lot of digging to redirect some water run-off from the hill behind our shed and dug a trench to investigate a septic issue (more on that later). He also ran pipe from one of the natural springs on our property to a collection bucket by the field where the chicken tractors are so we can fill their water buckets more easily. Another major project of the last couple weeks has been weasel-hunting. We had what we think were weasels come into the barn during the night and take two of our laying hens and also killed one of my pearl guineas 😦 TS built some weasel traps, set up the game camera, and also staked out the barn for a night, but we haven’t seen or trapped anything. He reinforced the bottom of the barn wall by the creek with extra dirt, rocks, and tar as well. So far we have not lost any more of our feathered friends. The guinea was a clean kill and it was a cold night, so we were able to turn him into a yummy meal. Guinea meat is very much like the dark meat of a chicken. The legs are even darker and taste a little bit like chicken liver.
The kids both had birthdays in November. SJ turned 3 on November 19th and HS turned 5 on November 20th. My mom and her bf visited us that week for an early Thanksgiving meal of turkey, dressing, green bean salad, and sweet potatoes. My mom and I cooked everything though none of it was homegrown this year. I hope that next year we will have raised our own pastured turkey and most (if not all) of the vegetables for the meal. My mom’s dressing recipe is the best and I can’t believe how simple it is to make – I think I’m going to cook it a few more times throughout the year! We had a second Thanksgiving with the other side of my family. My dad and stepmother are moving to a nearby city and we had lunch at the club in their new subdivision. I had the lamb and it was divine. It would have been enough to make me consider raising lamb if not for the voice of Hannibal Lecter in my head asking “And what did you see, Clarice? What did you see?” Ew. Anyhow, we are super excited that my dad and stepmother are moving closer to us. We are also looking forward to having TS’s family visit us for Christmas including his sister, brother-in-law, and our nephew who live in TX.