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A few days before the autumnal equinox, we said goodbye to some friends and the next morning had our first frost. The frost part is *crazy* because in our country, you usually can't distinguish from a "last spring frost" and "first fall frost". According to some websites, our consecutive frost-free season is negative 4 days. But that's a bit extreme. Last year I counted 72 consecutive frost-free days. This year, it was 87. (That's almost 90!!!) That said, all the farmers around here will be quick to remind you of the year they had 27 consecutive frost-free days. Oh, I have some things to say about my garden but will save it for a garden-specific post coming soon to a blog near you.
Juniper: "This is the one I'm going to eat. I love her so much."
clamming on the coast?" I love that my kids know (and love!) the lives that feed them.
And I say: Thank you for the summer. For being fun and funny. For keeping the earwig population down. For fertilizing our garden. For being so docile and patient and friendly. You didn't have to be; you were only meat chickens after all. Thank you for your lives: thank you for the meat.
- We raised "Red Rangers" because they were a breed known for their ability to free range, for their "livability", and their even breast-to-leg proportions (i.e. they look and act like a...chicken!). Nearly everyone we talked to locally about raising meat chickens warned us against cornish crosses (the heavy-breasted bird you find in most grocery stores). Old ranchers and backyard growers alike told us the cornish crosses are so heavy-breasted you will go out one day and find their legs collapsed underneath them. Or that they've had a heart attack. Or heat stroke. The owner of the feed store told me she tried it one year and was so heartbroken and disgusted that by the time butchering day came, she didn't even want to eat them (or what was left of them). I am happy to report that the Red Rangers were very healthy, free-ranging, vivacious chickens.
- Skinned-out (we didn't pluck any or leave them whole), each chicken gave us about 2.5 pounds of meat. (I'll admit that even though the Red Rangers were known for their "livability", I was nervous about health problems and thus strictly controlled their grain diet.) I didn't take rigid notes, but I think each chicken cost us about $9--not counting the materials and construction of the chicken tractor/coop.
- We probably won't raise meat chickens again. At least not anytime soon. They ate a lot ($$$) and drank a lot. (And pooped a lot. On our patio.) They were a project and we have a lot of other projects we'd rather tend to in the coming summers. But who knows? We could change our minds after a winter of eating fresh, homegrown chicken.
- Now that they're gone, our hens--the future layers (expecting our first egg around Thanksgiving)--are getting a lot more attention and love : )