Monday, 27 May 2013

Chicken Raising - From Start to Freezer.

Well. We did it. The chickens have been raised, slaughtered, plucked and cleaned. And you know, I am really happy we decided to do it this way. Saying it makes you appreciate your food is an understatement. Saying it was easy can go either way. It was not easy to take a life but I definitely took comfort in knowing I was going to be eating a chicken that had never been treated cruelly, stuck in a cage it's whole life or been fed any antibiotics or growth hormones. I've decided to explain how the process went so if you don't want to know I advise that you stop reading onward. On the other hand I encourage you to put your reservations aside. We had heard about an idea where you nail a javex bottle that had been cut in half on a fence post an put the chicken in it upside down. This to me seemed a bit too disconnected and harsh so we decided to revise the idea a bit. We took a burlap feed bag and cut a small hole in the bottom. We then put the chicken into the sack so it's head was coming through the hole. I spent a few minutes holding it and keeping it calm. Kind of thought of myself as the calm energy of the day. I then took it over to a stump we had put to nails into. The chickens head went inbetween the nails where I then sat with it until it was calm again - they almost fall asleep. At this point I would walk away and Steve and his brother Dave (Food With Legs) would do the deed. One would hold the chicken and the other would cut off its head with a hatchet. We then hung them upside down to let them drain and to pluck them. The worst or hardest part is definitely plucking them. A couple we are friends with showed up in the process and lent a hand. The girl was a real trooper and even helped Dave and I with the cleaning out along with putting in a lot of plucking time. The cleaning out is actually quite easy, especially after a few tries. You can basically get all of the insides out in one scoop which is qiute interesting to see. Tomorrow my mum is coming to spend the night and cook us up one of the chickens. I really am proud that we were able to put food on our table start to finish. We now have 6 chickens in our freezer that we know what exactly they consumed and how they lived their lives. Amazing to be able to say. 

First chicken cleaning experience. Skeptical I think!

Pigs just being trouble makers.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Farm Visits

I have been in touch with a wonderful woman that contacted me after her and her two daughters started reading my blog. Through the blog they have been learning the ins and outs of farm life as well as the truth about commercial farming. In turn they have also had to face the idea of where our food comes from and naturally had some reservations about how I am able to raise up and love my animals when they will eventually end up on the dinner plate.
I find this question always so immensely hard to answer. I do love my animals and no I don't WANT to kill them. The thing is, if I want to take a stand against commercial farming this is something I have to do. Me becoming a vegetarian only stops one person from buying commercially where as if I raise my animals and sell the meat I can stop many many more people from buying commercially. I show my pigs lots of love and affection because I want them to experience that. Even though in the end it likely will be harder for me, that shouldn't be what decides the quality of their life.
We have decided to also kill our meat chickens ourselves (plus help from Steves brother Dave who writes a blog called Food With Legs). The reasoning behind this is first off, everybodys Grandma or Grandpa has probably done this so I should stop being such a baby about it. Second, I don't want them to have to go through the stress of being caged in a slaughter house. They have lived a quite comfortable life and I want to do all I can to keep it that way. Am I going to cry? Yes, probably I am. But the point is to make it easier on them not me.
Back to our visit, I am so inspired to see young girls wanting to learn. Sometimes farming can seem like a mans world but as a woman you have to realize you can do anything you put your mind to. You can impact anything you choose to. If you don't agree with something then do something about it! You may only be able to educate yourself at first but that is a huge start. The reason commercial farming is the way it is today is because people have allowed themselves to become ignorant and hand over the power of their food production to somebody else.
The point of this blog is to make people think about their impact on the world as well as bring people together with the same morals and ideals! Great to see it starting to spread out beyond these property lines.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Greener pastures

I am taking a chance right now and letting my pigs out into a a field that is not only not electric fenced but not really fenced at all. Their paddock is all torn up and they have no grass now that they've been in it a month or so. I've yet to get time to electric fence another area. Keep your fingers crossed that nobody escapes! 


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The Newest Dilemna

I am constantly caught in the pull of knowing I likely wouldn't be able to harvest my own animals (as in killing them myself) and knowing that sending them away is much harder on them. They live their life at my farm and sending them to have their last day off the farm just doesn't sit well with me.

As Steve always says, baby steps Leasha.

As some of you may know we got 6 meat chickens about a month ago which you only keep for 6-8 weeks. Meaning their time is slowly coming to a close. Is this something I think I could carry out myself? I'm honestly not sure. A part of me really wants to say I could but I don't feel confident or self sufficient enough. When you think of things in a primal form I feel like I sound so silly. We raise chickens, we eat chickens but I don't have the gumption to carry out the act. Selfish? Some would say so. If I really want to ensure my animals have a stress free life I should be thinking about every way I can do that - regardless of if its hard on me or not.

Looking through similar blogs I came across these videos. ATTENTION everybody should know before they click on these links they do show how to kill, pluck and butcher a chicken. So if you don't want to see it don't watch. Although being scared to understand the process of how your meal gets on your table should be more of a priority in everybodys life.

Both courtesy of

What got me also in that it is a woman doing this in the video, it doesn't take brawn or brute to kill something, rather it takes confident and heart.

Gardening Crazy!

Well I figured it was time for a long overdue gardening update. I may grow grass all day but I definitely underestimated the difficulty of gardening. Man it's hard! Not only physically but mentally too, you always have to be thinking about what's coming next and mapping things out on your mind. Sun? Shade? How far apart to plant? Watering frequency? Start indoors or seed outside? When to plant? So many questions. Right now I have tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, peppers, hot peppers, celery and strawberries growing inside. I had them outside but then there was going to be frost this week which would freeze them dead. Another thing us gardeners have to be watching out for. I started off with an area that I fenced off with electric fencing and let the pigs go at it. Since then I have made some raised beds out of old logs that the previous owners cut down and left laying around. Outside so far I planted peas (which are always to be planted early) as well as onions, lettuce and radishes a couple weeks ago. Yesterday I planted a row of carrots, beets and Brussels sprouts. As well I planted some broccoli that I started inside, which I really don't think will last but have them a shot.

Strawberries - on a side note these little guys have been growing as long as the tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes

Regular tomatoes

Peppers of all kinds.

I made all the stands out of electric fencing. Seemed to work quite well but I think I need to make a few bigger ones for the big tomatoe plants as they are starting to sag.

Here is the outside garden so far plus there is a new bed behind me when I am taking this photo. I have put black garden fabric inbetween the beds and put straw on top of it to keep the weeds down.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Pig Luring - This Should Be A Sport

The Return of Mumma and the new addition

Yesterday we went to go get Mumma pig from the farm where she was getting re-bred. I thought this expedition would be a piece of cake as I loaded her by myself when she went there. say it didn't go as planned is a complete understatement. It took 7 men plus me over an hour. and yea, my fabulous trailer backing up skills did come in handy. Also I think the farmers sheer determination to get Mumma pig off his farm kept us all going. At one point she tried to leap over a 5 foot fence and almost made it. She escaped about 5 times. One of the times pushig over a gate that 4 grown men were holding. Too smart for her own good - or maybe just stubborn! We also ended up picking up another girl. She is a large black and around 60 pounds and not in the greatest mental or physical shape. The game plan after we get back from picking up more straw today is setting up a lounge grabbing a book as a drink and spending a few hours in the stall with her. She's terrified of people. Here are some pictures of the farm and the pig corralling. 
This is the farmers hops field. 

You think she'd be more excited to come home! Looks like I have some relationship repair ahead of me. Also forgot to mention we got loose at our property by crawling underneath the trailer. 

This is Steve learning some old school farmer pig wrangling. Not exactly the best way to start a relationship but she was so terrified of people there was no other way to get her on the trailer. 


Friday, 10 May 2013

Chicken Run Build

Steve and I have been thinking about building a chicken run because of our insane coyote problem. On that note - I was standing on the front lawn yesterday when a coyote ran out from one of the paddocks to grab a chicken pecking around in the round about! Like 10 feet from me! Insane.
Okay back to the run we decided to do 24 feet by 8 feet since we will need quite a large area with the new chicks growing like weeds! We went into scugog lumber in port perry to get some help with the designs and whatever lumber we needed. The guy there was very helpful and drew out a plan with us. We couldn't get the wire we wanted, hardware wire that has half inch by half inch square holes. We had to order that from port perry feed and pick it up. Which ended up being fine cause we didn't start the run until the following weekend. We being Steve and his Dad while Steve's mum and I supervised from the patio chairs :D 
The two wall sections are 12 feet long by 4 feet high and divided at the 6 foot mark for support. 

You build 4 of those and merge two together to build each wall. 

Then you build the 8 feet long by 4 feet tall end sections with a support at the 4 foot mark. And start connecting everything to make the walls. At each corner you have a 4X4 post that is also 4 feet high. We bought 8 foot 4X4s and just cut them in half.

They also put a board diagonally at each end piece for added support. The door was put in between one of the 6 foot areas on the long walls. They also put boards along the bottom to sandwich in the wire and make it more secure from predators.
Here is some chicks enjoying the safety of their new play pen!