More Butchery

Another round of butchery occurred at lunch today. Our young rooster was becoming a menis to the younger egg layers, “John Snow” our other rooster and the preteens, so the decision was made to end its reign of terror.  I did things a little differently this time around:

First was to cage him (only time our birds are ever caged) for a day and half with only water  (this way he got cleaned out and stayed hydrated)

Caged bird for only a Day

Caged bird for only a Day

I also spent $35 (discounted Amazon price, think it was originally $100) on an entry level field dress set. Which comes w diff cutlery, kitchen sheers and a cutting board. I also purchased a set of gloves for the sole purpose of butchery. They are Kevlar and rubber.

Knives, gloves and cutting board

Knives, gloves and cutting board

The third thing I did differently was stabbing the brain (read this in a butchering book, suppose to lossen feathers) threw the beak after the slicing the neck to drain the blood (I’m still working out a good kill cone stand).

Drain das blood and puncture the brains

Drain das blood and puncture the brains

The last change made was to boil the water to a higher temp 180. I then brought the pot downstairs and outside on the table. I assume it probably cooled down to 160-170. But from that point I submerged the rooster in water 3x and shook. The feathers came right out, I was finished in under 10mins.

easiest plunking to date

easiest plunking to date

When I started to butcher, the bird starting honking so of course being a classy fella and all I had to catch it on video…

That’s it for now. I am working on a few things around the yard (rustic tree benches, retaining walls and general landscaping to name  a few) I will post once those projects get finished up.

 

That’s it for now, cheers!

The Fowl Tower: High-rise failure

Way back when (last fall) I surprised Jamie with the Guinea fowl. Their sole purpose was to protecting the flock from snakes, as they were becoming a growing problem (stealing eggs). Shortly after they arrived, it became apparent that they may need their own space. So came the idea of the Fowl Tower. The idea was to have an outdoor nesting area like a tree because Guineas love to sleep/nest in trees.

our chicken/fowl high-rise

our chicken/fowl high-rise

We dug a hole, put in a 4×4 pressure treated board and some concrete. Once that dried we attached the top of a pine tree I had cut down earlier that year. Then finally we plopped on the top which has two covered areas for nesting. We thought that with the branches, the chickens/guineas would love jumping flying up and use. However, to date I think the only living thing that has climbed up and peaked inside has been me. At the end of the day it didn’t cost a whole lot and who knows maybe the new round of chicks will utilize it. If they do,  then I will put up a ladder going up the 4×4 so we can easily clean and inspect for eggs.

That’s it for now though, cheers.

Chicken Coup Revamp 3.0 update (to version 3.2)

We finally got our chicken coup updated to version 3.2. Which means no more chick stench in our house!!!! I am so excited for this to have taken place. If you only have 6-12 chicks, life isn’t terrible. But if you have the 36-40 we have, your whole house stinks and you wish you had a hardwire powered chicken coup that’s FAR-AWAY from your house. But we have lived and learned. We wont do chicks again in the house.

In order for this move to happen we needed to fix our solar power setup in the coup

chicken power

Solar powered chicken coup

Then we needed to install the door to the chick growing area for the coup, nothing fancy, just a board on hinges and a latch lock.

looking for chicks here

Chicks live here

Behind that un-painted door lives our chicks, a mix of meat and egg layers. Since we can only run the one light overnight without spending a few hundred on new battieries. We hope that t will be ok to let them all huddle together over the still cold nights (got down to at least 45 last night) under the 100watt bulb. When they reach teenage weeks we will separate the meats from the eggers.

Our 2016 Chicks

Spring Chicks

So have the lower sides of their area’s are enclosed to keep drafts out. They have two feeders and a 1 gallon waterier hung from their roof for feed and water.

That’s kind of it. They all survived the first night. So hopefully they all live through the next few weeks. I will say that we did close up the coup more so then normal. We closed the human doors, the window we installed and the two suicide doors as well overnight. The idea being that we keep as much heat as possible inside the coup as we can.

 

That’s it for now.
Till later, Cheers.

Solar Power – piecemeal setup

We have a solar panel on our chicken coup. The plan was to power the veggie garden watering pump and chicken coup accessories with it. Our original purchase was a 100watt solar panel, 10 amp charge controller and a small solar 12volt battery off of ebay (Jamie bought these, so I don’t have the model info right now). We have since added in parallel a spare 12volt lawn mower battery and car battery that came with the house when we bought it. See below the installed solar panel on top of the chicken coup

chicken power

Solar powered chicken coup

You may notice the separate solar powered light for the non-chicken portion of the coup. This has its own tiny panel, light and built in battery.

The main panel connects to our piece-meal battery charger system consists of 1 proper solar battery and 2 found/free batteries:

cheap battery bank

piece-meal battery bak

As you can see (or not, from left to right) that we put together our one proper deep charge battery in parallel with the other two mower and car battery. Then we have a 1500watt current 3000watt max peak inverter connected to the positive of furthest battery and negative of the closest battery. You may notice to the two clips (positive and negative) on the side of the inverter, this is for our weak-powered bilge pump that was suppose to push water from our water barrel to the vegetable garden. Learn from our mistake, and do not buy a bilge pump, it simply does not have enough power to pump water threw hoses, purchase a utility pump instead.  Finally you will notice that we have a plug into our inverter, this powers the 100watt flood light to give our chicks some heat overnight (which does last for 12hrs in our setup).

 

Quick summary of the components:

1 -100watt panel

3 – batteries

1 – 10amp charge controller

1 – stand alone solar light

1- 1500 concurrent/3000watt peak inverter

1 – flood lamp/light

 

That’s it for now. Before our next batch of chicks I hope to replace our two funky batteries with proper deep cycle batteries with enough deep cycle batteries for  a combined 400amp+ hours. This will let us run a 1500watt bulb for over 12 hours.

Till later, cheers.

Chicken Coup – Revamp #3: V1.0

We have revamped our coup, for a 3rd time. This is version 1.0 of this re-design. We are planning on adding our chicks/pre-teens to this coup and when that happens we will be at 2.0 at which time we will need to add a door behind our brood housing unit.  But until that happens, let me give you a quick tour of our chicken condominium:

Walkup chicken entry:

chicken walk entry

where the chickens can walk up

You may notice our “very expensive” coup flooring.. I am kidding. After a few floor coverings Jamie has found that the cheapest “shiniest” laminate flooring is the way to go. First off its really easy to clean, and really being laminate you don’t have to worry about  soak threw.  Also the walls have been properly white-washed, not just a watered down white paint. But actual white wash (Jamie may need to correct this part) but for a proper white wash you simply mixed de-natured lime with water until you get a pancake batter consistency. Then you just slop it on the walls/wood.

Next on the tour is the auto-mated watering corner, the older birds aren’t keen on this, but the younger ones use the cups. The older use the stand alone waters.

5 gallon and stand-alone waters

watering corner

Next is our Roost Housing unit. This is our newest addition, tore out the old built-ins to make cleaning easier as well as actually having the ability to re-arrange without a headache. It is raised off the ground 6 inches so the younger birds are hide if they are getting picked on by their elders.

roosting box

Our 9 roost box house for our chicken coup

roost housing unit

side view of the roost housing unit

roost housing unit

yet another view of the roost housing unit

 

egg layer

Looking to lay an egg

We found it easier to create a wall of perches separated from the rest of the coup for cleaning purposes. otherwise, poop and such is everywhere covering and difficult to clean. Since we are cleaning the forest out on the backside of our property we have a ton of small trees and such. So we went rustic:

chicken perch

Where the chickens perch, sleep and chill

 

That’s really it. I am in the process of creating a large “J-Feeder” from timber/logs we are milling so we can dump a full or 1/2 bag of chicken feed to simplify feeding. But that will be another post. So I will leave you with “our view/entrance” of the coup. The first part of the shed is the incredibly messy garden benches and solar power equipment (will do that in another post as well).

human entrance

how we get into the coup

So that is jist of the new setup. Once we finalize the new area (or dump it for another idea) we will create a new post.

Till then, cheers.

Murder and Butchery

So we have been talking of slaughtering the roosters and guinea fowl for some time now. Mainly because they are loud and don’t really do much. Since we have so many chicks, we will keep one of the Easter eggers (or Americana) roosters for a breeding pair and then start solely hatching them when we are ready for more chicks. We also plan on selling hatchery eggs. But I digress, to the point.  We where still undecided on which rooster we should butcher first, but then one got out and flew into Harley yard. So that decision was made for us. The guinea fowl had a similar fate, except one would get out, we would net it, and then shortly after the other would get out. With them out and operated all they would do was squawk and squawk all day long.

So after catching the female that was out, I promptly caged her. Then went and wrangled up the male and tossed him into the cage well. That night I butchered the rooster (2 nights ago).

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Lastnight I set a kill cone stand, so I could butcher both guineas at the same time without another set of helping (Jamie was with Kane at her mother’s).

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The process for butchering and cleaning Guineas are the same as with a chicken. If we ever get good at the process we will create our own how-to, however there are a ton of them already out there on the net. But the process is:
!!! Use VERY VERY sharp knifes, otherwise it will be a struggle !!!!
1 – catch them
2 – place them in kill cone
3 – slit their neck veins
4 – let them bleed out
5 – place in boiling pot of water (water temp between 145-150f) for 3 seconds shaking them while submerged.
6 – pull out, then put back in water; repeating step 5
7 – pull out of water and pluke a feather. If met w little or no resistance your done and ready to step 8, otherwise related the dunk and shake until feathers easily come out
8 – pluke all feathers, this will be messy and will take some time. There is a device that does this called a chicken plucker, but I’ve never used one.
9 – time to get your hands dirty
10 – knock off the feet at the joint using a heavy knife or sheers
11 – cut the head off using same knife/sheers. Take a small filet/pruning knife and cut around the neck and detach connecting issue from throat and other tubes in neck. 
12 – cut around butt glands at the upper lower back around tail feathers, flip over  and keep on cutting down to the poop-shoot on both sides
13 – I find it easier to cut leg skin and all the way to the center breast, otherwise I can’t fit my hands in enough to break the connective tissue around the organs, so feel free to open up as much as you need too
14 – reach inside, work around the sides to break the guts from the sides. Once your happy that your all set, grip and pull out the innards.

15 – that’s the jist of it, if your doing guineas I was recommend skinning at this point, they are very fatty/greasy, tons of fat pockets all just under the skin. So I skinned both and removed 90% of the visible fat.

16 – package and store, roast or soak in a salt bath overnight.

17 – eat and enjoy

Again, sorry we didn’t take any pics of this process, but until we actually get our skill level built up, it’s not gonna happen.

Anyways that’s it for now. Cheers.

Next Run of Chicks

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Between Moneta Farm & Home Center (Moneta VA) and Tractor Supply (Bedford, VA) we have gotten about 45 chicks…  20 for meat birds and the other 25 for laying, 6 of which are Easter eggers. I’m looking forward to blue and green eggs this fall!

image

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For now we have them separated in three bins with a water dish, heat lamp and food tray in each.

Next time we do this, we will do it after spring when we don’t need to have them inside (in our basement craftroom) Or we will do it once the adult chicken coup has enough solar panels and batteries to keep up with the demands of the heat lamps. Then we will simply setup a chick/teenagers pen and keep all the chickens together but separated.

However over the next few days I will be building the coup for the meat birds, which will house this entire round of chic. It will be next to the house so we can keep power to the heat lamps and have easy access. Then once they are big enough and don’t need the heat lamps we will put all the eggers into our large coup and this coup will get moved to the side of the yard w a new fence so they can roam around and act as a bug barrier.

That’s it for now I guess. Cheers.

Cameras and home monitoring

So our neighbor Jerry Thompson has been shooting guns out of his house at 5:30am (sometimes earlier) when he gets angry as “warning shots,”  we decided we should invest in some more cameras to monitor our property incase he gets more irate.  Being of tight budget I have had to find a balance of cost to quality ratio and then do some good deal searching…  the main camera we are adding to the system will be to monitor the backyard. We have also be adding several other cameras around the property.

Tons of work to do still. On part of which is that I am tweaking our current camera/alert system ( BlueIris)  I am testing changes and features out now with our current cameras.  We may change it out for iSpy depending on what features actually work and function well (face/person tracking).

Official Members of Farm to Consumer Defense Fund

We received confirmation last night that our application was approved for a HomeSteaders Membership. We are excited to finally be able to get our legal questions answered by experts and have someone to speak with if we do end up having to legally deal with our chickens, due to a our neighbor Jerry Thompson who is trying to get our right to farm in a an agricultural zone removed…

Joined Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund

http://www.farmtoconsumer.org/

We just submitted our application to Farm to Consumer Defense Fund to confirm and educate ourselves on any legal issues we may face. Mainly due to the re-incarnation of a neighbor dispute that after giving a verbal ok on raising chickens decided he didn’t like their noises…  so we confirmed with out zoning board, and animal control that we wouldn’t have any issues with them, but that we may be taken to court by the developer, but even then we should be able to get the case thrown out… but since we aren’t legal experts, nor are the zoning board, this expense makes sense for us.

Plus we can now get advice on setting up goat milk sales. so fingers crossed we get past this round of issues with the neighbor and get a chance to sell some more items at the Bedford Famers market starting in May!