Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Homemade Chicken Soup part 3

We processed our chickens a few days ago--Friday actually. We took pictures and video, but they aren't going to be added to this post. When Roger gets a chance he'll edit it and try to get it put together and uploaded so that you can see how we do it. We'll load it as a video so that you have to play it if you want to see it. That way if you aren't interested in seeing the pictures, you won't accidentally see them. And it will all be posted as a separate post from this one anyway so it's safe to keep reading.

The chickens were almost 7 weeks old. As soon as they hit 6 weeks, they started dieing one by one. They'd just be dead in the morning as if their little hearts just couldn't handle beating anymore. "Autopsies" of the ones that we processed showed them to not be terribly healthy. If we didn't process them when we did I'm sure we'd have had many more die on us. The trouble is, they only dressed out at 2 lbs each. It was hardly worth all the time I put into raising the little pigs and certainly not worth all the grain they ate. I could have bought chicken at the store for less.

Ok, but home grown chicken should be healthier because of all the grass and bugs they eat. And tastier, too, right? Not this breed (Cornish Rocks). We've raised several different breeds now and they all ate the grass and the bugs. They scratched at the ground. These things just sort of sat around all the time. They walked around some, but never really scratched like chickens are supposed to do. As a matter of fact, if their food fell out of the feeder, they didn't eat it. It's not that they like things clean though because they would sit in the feeder and poop in it and then eat their feed anyway. It's just that they had none of the normal chicken instincts to forage for their food. I was very disgusted by these birds that don't deserve the name bird. I called them our pigs. But I imagine that's somehow insulting to pigs, too. I don't know since I haven't ever raised pigs. And taste? They didn't taste any different than what we bought at the store. Kind of blah tasting chicken. Well, call them pasture fed all you want. Just because they live in the pasture doesn't change the fact that all they eat is feed. I don't see how these are really any different than what we buy at the store. I believe it is this breed that is used on the factory farms. They've been bred to have lots of white meat. Well, they do have that.

We've raised other breeds as meat birds before and if we ever do this again it will be one of those breeds. Right now I'm thinking we'll just wait until our layers are too old to lay anymore, then we can put them in our soup.

We still have a bunch of chickens out there that are the same age as the ones we just butchered. They are delightful to watch. They seem to run around and play. They scratch the ground and forage for their food. I put their feed in the feeder and they ignore it while they try to catch whatever insect is nearby. They act like chickens. These are Buff Orpingtons which are my favorite breed. Hopefully we'll have lots of eggs in the Spring.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Shhh! The Baby's Sleeping

I've always heard that you should continue on with all the normal noise of the household so that your baby will learn to sleep through anything. I've heard lots of people say that they did this and it worked.

I have another theory. I think that some people will sleep through anything and others will not. We're just born that way. Those who would sleep through anything end up with parents who say they never reduced the noise and thus it taught their baby to sleep through anything. Those with babies who wake at every little sound end up being quieter so that their baby will sleep.

If it were possible to actually learn to sleep through noise, I would have learned that by now. Maybe I didn't start out that way as a baby, I have no idea. But I've been told my older brother was really noisy so that makes me think that I should have started out my life sleeping through noise. But I can remember lots of naps as a little kid where I couldn't sleep because some little noise woke me up. And nowadays, as exhausted as I am most of the time, I should definitely be able to learn to sleep through noise, but nope. I wake at every little sound.

So I refuse to believe that it's through poor training that Ezra needs quiet to sleep. It's just who he is. And I believe that someday when he wakes up with babies at night, his wife will appreciate this trait that is just a natural part of who he is regardless of how hard his siblings have tried to train it out of him.

And no, it can't possibly just be that my house is exceptionally noisy. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't and he still can't sleep through ANY little sound.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sukkot aka Feast of Tabernacles

In Leviticus 23 there is a list of feasts God told His people to keep. Most Christians today refer to these as Jewish Holidays. But we believe that as followers of Christ we are adopted as God's children and so we try to keep these as best we can. This is a very simple explanation anyway. If you want more detail, that's a whole other post. I'm sure some of our readers will say we're wrong to do this. But it's between us and God. We don't for a minute judge you if you don't keep these feasts. My point is not to tell you what to do, just preface the rest of the post so you'll have a clue what I'm talking about.

Toward the end of chapter 23 God tells the Israelites to dwell in booths for 7 days to remember how they had to dwell in booths when God brought the Israelites out of Egypt. The way we read this, God said to spend a week camping every fall. He even set it up to start with the full moon so we'll have a nice bright sky.

My kids say this is their favorite feast of the year. The weather is usually beautiful. They set up tents outside the house and they get to sleep in the tents every night--if they want to. We all ate dinner outside one night, but Roger and I chose not to sleep in tents until the rain passes at least.

A lot of people think we gave up a lot when we stopped celebrating Christmas and Easter. But many Christians believe that perhaps Jesus was born in Autumn. There's actually a lot of reason to believe that it was Sukkot at the time. So this is sort of our Christmas. We remember His birth at this time of year and even plan to make it a family tradition to have a big camping trip each year for Sukkot. And instead of Easter we celebrate Passover, the feast of Unleavened Bread and the feast of Firstfruits which is when He was resurrected. We have longer feasts, more of them, and they are spiritually more meaningful to us than the days we no longer observe. You can ask any of my kids, they don't feel like they are missing out on anything.

I was going to post a picture of their campsite, but I keep forgetting to take the camera out before dark. They've taken scrap lumber and created sidewalks from the house to the tents and between tents. It really worked great to keep their feet cleaner and the mud out of the tents.

Cowboy Sam is getting to finally fulfill his dream of being a real cowboy. As this little 4 yr old will matter-of-factly tell me every night when I tuck him into his bed, "Mom, I have to sleep in a tent because cowboys always sleep in tents." For this week, he gets to do that. And he is the only kid in the family to not come in at all once he gets out there. In fact, today I couldn't find him for a while. I finally found him taking a little nap in the tent. I didn't have the heart to tell him that cowboys probably don't suck their thumbs and need their blankies. He'll figure that part out when the time comes.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My New Pincushion

For quite some time now I have been saying I am going to get myself a new pincushion. For those of you who know nothing about sewing, that's a little pillow looking thing that you stick your pins in so they don't get stepped on. Anyway, I never do buy one because it seems silly to buy one when I have a perfectly good pincushion already. I've had the same one since junior high when I had to get supplies for home ec class.

My mom taught me early on to always leave thread in a needle when you put it in your pincushion. That way if the needle gets pushed in too far you won't lose it because you can pull it back out by the thread. So I listened to my mother, but my children don't really get it. At least they don't get it when they are little. I've had 9 toddlers so far (Ezra is still too small, but he will eventually I'll bet) pull the thread out and push the needle in. For some reason, they are all fascinated by the little red tomato lookin' thing with pins and needles pokin' out of it. It's gotten to where I don't think I have any needles left except for one really huge one that is too fat to poke through. And it's so long that if you did push it into the pincushion, it would come out the other side. So I've never lost it. It was my last lonely needle.

Last week I was cleaning up over at The Cross and there was a brand new pincushion just laying there on the floor. I asked my friend Maureen if I could have it. I almost never ask for stuff and was amazed and embarrassed that I did that. But she said yes. Who wouldn't? It's a cheap little item. How could you say no? But it made my day. And not just once.

Yesterday I finally got around to doing what I really wanted to do. I moved all the pins from my old pincushion to my new one. Then I cut open the old pincushion and searched through the sawdust (I never knew that was what they were stuffed with) for needles. I found 39 needles in my old pincushion. They are all different sizes. I haven't been able to finish yet, but I am going to thread and KNOT the thread on all of these before I put them in the new pincushion.

Plus I threw out all the old pins that were so bent I couldn't use them anymore. I even grouped like pins together, but that won't last, nor does it matter. But it sure looks pretty for now.

So it made my day last week to get the pincushion and made my day again yesterday to find all these needles. I know, you're all thinking, "get a life."

Thanks Mo! I love the pincushion!


Friday, October 10, 2008

Home Made Chicken Soup, Part Two

Today we finally moved the meat birds out of the brooder and into the chicken tractor. They were ready for this about a week or two ago, but the tractor had some repair work we had to do and Roger had other things to get done. He was finally able to get to it and they got moved today. They will live in this contraption for the next few weeks. We'll move it everyday so they get fresh ground to forage on, hopefully tilling a new garden for us in the process. But if they don't get it fully tilled, there will still be a couple of tractors of egg laying birds coming along behind them.

For now the new egg layers are still in the brooder. Roger finished the other tractor for me today, but not until later in the day and I prefer to move them in the morning. It gives them the day to settle into their new place. So we'll move them Monday morning. But now they have room to spread out. We still have 23 of them out of the 25 I ordered. Two died in transit and none died in the brooder yet. I think I'm about to lose one, but we'll see. Of the 75 meat birds, we still have 67.

Sam, our 4 yr old, likes to go out and help me take care of the chicks. They have been growing so fast lately that he would look and say, "we have more chickens!" I'd point out that we still have the same number, but they are all bigger now, but he didn't believe me. Then he'd want to know where his favorite one is. They all look alike to me!