Tag Archives: homesteading

Meat Chickens – Take One..

You want to raise meat birds?  Woo hoo!!!  We had a great time raising meat chickens for the first time.  I hope the following information is helpful to your endeavors…. or at least entertaining. 

Step 1: Order chicks and pick shipment date **keep in mind the chicks arrive early in the AM and MUST BE PICKED UP at the local post office ASAP.  I got the call at 5:45AM.

Step 2: A few days before the chicks arrive, set up brooder using large box, heat lamp, newspaper, chick feed and water.  You want to get the area nice and warm before the chicks arrive.

After reading about the different kinds of meat chickens, we decided to go with the Red Rangers from McMurrary Hatchery.  Why you ask?  We didn’t want to raise birds that couldn’t walk on their own (like the X Rocks) and since the Red Rangers are also decent layers, we had the option of keeping one around if we chose.  We also liked that the Red Rangers reached maturity in 10-12 weeks (as apposed to laying hens and dual breeds that often take 20 weeks).

Step 3: When the chicks arrive, get them warm right away.  They will need constant food and water.  McMurray sends newsletters with great info on how to raise chicks.

We started with 20 Red Ranger chicks and a mix of 35 other chicks.  Aren’t they super cute?

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The chicks grew very quickly and were ready to go outside in 4 weeks.  The Red Ranger chicks were also more friendly than the others and would come right up to us and arch their back like a dog to be petted. Awww, right?

We raised our chicks in the garage.  CAUTION: The chick down feathers get EVERYWHERE.  I had the shop vac going almost daily to keep on top of the mess.  ALSO, since these birds grow fast, they eat a lot and….ahem….. poop a lot.  Be prepared to clean up their pen often.

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Step 4: Put the chicks outside and fatten them up

Once the chickens were fully feathered we moved them to their outside area which is 1/2 of a one stall horse barn.  We turned the “tack room” into the chicken coop and cut a chicken door out the back that lead into their fenced off area.  The fencing is about 5 feet high and the chickens were not interested in flying out.  I think they were more concerned with eating and growing.

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Step 5: Find a good butcher in the area and drop them off to be processed.

After 11 weeks the birds weighed about 6-8 pounds and we dropped them off to the butcher.  In 24 hours we had 4-6 lb bagged broilers in the freezer.

Step 6: Find some recipes and enjoy!

We’ve been cooking one a week ever since.

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Some other things that happened along the way….

We didn’t end up keeping any laying hens (thanks to a predator that killed a few), but one of the chickens was a runt and didn’t reach the needed weight at the time the others went off to the butcher.  The runt was added to our laying flock and now “Roosty” is king of the hen-house.  As you can see, they get pretty big.  So far “Roosty” is a very nice rooster. Red Rangers are hybrids and you aren’t supposed to use them in breeding, but he’s useful for breaking up hen fights and alerting everyone of intruders.

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As for the economics of things, raising our own meat birds doesn’t save that much money (if any).  There are other meat animals that are far more profitable (such as pigs which we are also raising).  However, we like the experience of raising the chickens on our own and deciding what they are eating.

Cost Break Down:

Chicks: $2.45 each= $50

Purina Non-Medicated Start & Grow for the first 2 weeks = $17.99

Purina Flock Raiser for the remainder (we used 1 bag every 2 weeks) = $71.96

Butcher: $3.25/bird (we lost some birds due to predators and butchered 12) = $39

TOTAL COST (not including wood chips, heat lamps, and start up costs) = $178.95 or $2.98 a pound

The grocery store is about $2.09/pound for an organic broiler.  If we had NOT lost 7 chickens, it would have brought the cost down to $2.12 per pound.  To make it MORE cost effective you can also raise extra birds to sell and recoup some money.

Overall it was a positive experience and we will be doing this again next year in hopes of selling some broilers.

Have you raised meat birds before?  Please share your experiences in the comment section!

Have a great day!

🙂 Mama Nice

 

 

 

 

 

2015 Garden Planning

Last week the sun was pouring across the backyard and into the kitchen.  I love these days. It’s like a little glimpse of spring (Charlie Dog thinks so too).

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My yard in the winter is an ice-skating rink.  Literally, my kids go out and skate on the ice that overtakes the backyard.  I can’t even move some of the fence gates because there is an inch of ice keeping them frozen in place.  Going out to the chickens is a comedic adventure as I walk like a penguin hoping to stay upright.  My poor dog is depressed that he can’t run freely, so he mopes around and is gaining weight each day. When the “big thaw” begins, there is a river about 6 inches deep that begins to drain around our house.

As I write this post the sun is shining and Papa Nice and I just finished planning the garden for spring and I’m thinking warm thoughts.  We are more than doubling our raised beds and I’m so excited to see how much food we can grow for our family.

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We are pretty picky about our seeds and we like to order from Heirloom seed catalogs. Most of our seeds are organic, but for those that are NOT organic – at least we know they are non GMO.  For the last several years we have ordered from Seed Savers and this year we are going to order from Johnny’s Selected Seeds also.

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We use raised beds in our garden and this year we are going to try hay mulching.  Here is our garden layout and seed planning list.

2015 Nice Family Homestead Garden Layout

2015 Nice Family Homestead Seed Planning Guide

I hope the ideas and comments are helpful as you plan your 2015 garden!

🙂 Mama Nice

Getting Organized in 2015 #2 Budget Binder

I must admit that I am not the biggest fan of technology.  I still like to have paper lists, paper calendars, paper schedules, I could go on.  There is something about being able to look at everything sprawled out on a table in front of me, with a highlighter in hand, that just makes me giddy.  The whole idea of using binders to organize is just so exciting to me.  I don’t know why God made me that way, but I’m going with it.

This week I tackled the School Binder and Budget Binder.  This post covers  the Budget Binder.  The School Binder is coming soon though!

My husband and I have tried various ways to keep track of our budget.  We tried the cash in envelopes method, computer spreadsheets, mobile apps and plain white paper.  Each system worked, in its own way, but at the end of each month I would stash the receipts and paperwork somewhere in the office.  It was hard to go back and compare month to month and therefore not intentionally setting goals.  I hope the madness stops this year.

Onto the HOW TO.  I assembled our Budget Binder with forms for the ENTIRE YEAR.  Here’s how it works.

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  • The front of the binder includes a copy of our monthly budget goals and monthly budget tracker.
  • The front pocket has stamps and envelopes for bills that need to be paid via snail mail.
  • The next divider contains the forms for the current month with a pocket for receipts.
  • The last section contains forms for the rest of the year

Here are some free forms for you too…

My goal is to sit down each week and record our current spending in hopes that I can stay on top of our budget.  Wish me luck and happy budgeting!

🙂 Mama Nice

 

2014 Canning & Freezing Recipes

It’s October here on the homestead and I’m still canning and freezing.  I just finished up the apple recipes and my remaining green tomatoes have turned red and are ready for processing.  I’ve made several different recipes this year in hopes of finding some favorites.  The following list are ones we think are worth repeating next year.  Enjoy!

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Tomato Recipes

Cucumber Recipes

Pepper Recipes

  • Hot Pepper Jelly (Hint: if you leave the seeds in, the jelly will be nice and hot for those that love a lot of heat.  Take the the seeds out for a more mild jelly that still has a little kick). 
  • Freezing Onions & Peppers

Apple Recipes

  • Apple Pie Filling (hint: when you are ready to make a pie, first mix your canned filling and some flour to thicken the sauce before adding to the pie crust).
  • Jewish Apple Cake