Update to “What’s in Your Chicken…?”

For those of you just joining us, let me give you a recap. Approximately 10 weeks ago, we purchased 50 Cornish Cross meat chickens to raise and process as meat for our family. We wanted to try this for several reasons; knowing where our food comes from, the cost benefit, etc. Last Saturday marked the ninth and final week of our meat chicken journey. I told you five weeks ago that I would update you, so here goes…MC7

One disclaimer before I get started, however. I am going to walk through what we did, so if you are squeamish, now is the time to stop reading.

Since the wife and I had never processed Chickens before, we called our good friend “Bob” (see the Bobcats, Coons, and Possums…Oh, my! Post) to help us out. He and his girlfriend came over and the four of us spent the next six hours processing the lot. The first thing we did was set up everything we were going to need for the day.

Cones – to hold the birds
Buckets – to catch the blood
Scald tank or large pan with propane burner with water at a temp of 140°
Hose with a spray nozzle
Rubber utility gloves
Sharp knives
Cooler of ice water
Drying rack
Plastic bags
String or ties

Once everything was set up, Bob went about teaching us what we needed to do. It became an assembly line of sorts. We were each given jobs based on what our particular strength or weakness was. For instance, Eva has the smallest hands so she was lucky enough to get to clean the chickens. I am the most squeamish, so I got to pluck. Bob had done this the most, so he was our bleeder/scalder.

This is how the process works:

  1. Bob grabbed a chicken from the pen and put it in the cone, head down. Once the chicken is in the cone you slit the throat so that it bleeds out. As a kid, I remember watching my grandpa put the chicken on the block and chop their head. When I asked Bob about this, he told me that the blood doesn’t run out and that they are much harder to clean that way. Just a FYI.MC10
  2. Once the chicken has bled out and stopped moving, essentially having died, you take it by the feet and dip it in and out of the scald tank for 30 seconds. If the water is too cold, the plucking is VERY difficult. If it is too hot, the skin rips while you are trying to pluck. You have to find the sweet spot for this.
  3. Once the chicken has scalded in the tank, you put it on the table and spray it with the hose while rubbing it with the rubber glove. You really need two people for this. Bob’s girlfriend was with me on this job. We took turns spraying and plucking. If you have scalded correctly, the plucking is super easy with the hose and gloves. The feathers really come right off when you rub the chicken. You still have to pull the wing and the tail feathers.MC11
  4. Once all of the feathers are off, with the chicken laying on its back, you grab the foot with one hand and extend the leg. With a sharp knife, you cut right at the leg joint. This is now the bottom of the drumstick. At this point, we handed the chicken off to Eva to clean.
  5. The next step is to cut off the head at the base of the neck. Then you cut the gland off the end of the tail. Once that is done, you cut a small slit in the vent; only large enough to get your hand in. Once the slit is made you have to reach up into the chicken and pull the innards out, all of them. We kept the heart, liver, and gizzards, but threw everything else out. Once it is all cleaned out you spray the insides with a hose to clean all of the blood and any leftover little pieces out. Once that is done, you drop it in the cooler of ice water so that the meat relaxes.mc9.jpg
  6. After the chicken has sat in the water for 30 minutes you move it out of the water to the drying rack so that it can air dry.
  7. Once the chicken is dry, you tuck the wings and pack it in the bag. Get as much air out of the bag as possible and tie it with the string.

 

Feed – Purina Broiler Starter x 2 (50lb) $36.00
Cornish Cross chicks x 10 $0.00
Cornish Cross chicks x 40 $43.60
Feed – Albers Grower/Finisher x 12 (50lb) $191.88
Processing x 38 $0.00
Total Cost $271.48
Cost per Bird $7.14

My estimate in the original post was that I would end up with 40 birds at a cost of $6.31 a bird. In the end, we ended up with 38 birds at the cost of $7.14 a bird. Still not too bad and less than what I would spend at a grocery store for chicken that is “enhanced with 15% chicken broth.” I know, because I looked today. I feel pretty good about what we accomplished with this batch of meat birds and we both agree it is something we are going to do again.

Robin crayon

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Baby, you can can-can too!

When I was a girl, my grandparents owned 88 acres at the foot of the Ozarks, in Arkansas. They had cattle, horses, some pigs, guinea fowl, and a garden. My grandma also had several different fruit trees in a small orchard; apple, pear, plum, cherry, and persimmon. I remember getting in trouble and our punishment was picking rocks out of the very large garden. I used to swear that Grandpa put those rocks back every time, because we never ran out. I know better now. The rocks just magically reappear in your garden year after year. One of my fonder memories, however, was when it was time to can everything we grew all year long. We would spend days in the kitchen canning corn, beans, okra, tomatoes, and beets, to name a few. The really cool thing was that it wasn’t just us women folk. My grandpa and my brother were right there in the kitchen with us. Everybody had a job to do, and we benefited from it for the rest of the year.

Now that we have our land I am happy to say that I have followed in the footsteps of my grandparents. We also have the animals, the garden and the fruit trees. We also spend each summer and fall canning and preserving as much as we can to make it through the winter. We tend to alternate what we can, though. canning shelfFor instance, we got two tuna off the boat of a friend for two dollars a pound year before last. If you have never canned tuna, it is fairly simple but time consuming. We process in ½ pint jars by cutting the filet the size of the jar, adding a small clove of garlic and some salt and pepper, and processing for 90 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure. From two tuna, we ended up with approximately 34 pints, which lasted us two seasons. We will be ready to can tuna again this season. Considering a 5 ounce can of tuna can run you approximately $1, and of that 5 ounces, approximately one ounce is water or oil, you are paying about $0.25 an ounce for tuna at the store. We don’t process with water or oil, so the weight is all tuna. We paid $100 for the tuna we purchased, whole. The finished 34 pints provided 544 ounces of meat for a finished price of $0.18 an ounce, for a savings of $38.08 over two years. I know that doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but knowing what is in your jar of tuna and how it was processed is an added value to me.

We also can corn every other year. We get a lot of rain and corn doesn’t always grow well where we are. We have a farmer in the Willamette Valley, not too far from us, that raises corn and we purchase it from him. We usually buy 500 ears for $50. We cut the corn off the ears and raw pack in a sweet brine and process filled jars in a pressure canner at ten pounds pressure for 55 minutes for pints and 1 hour and 25 minutes for quarts. From the 500 ears we canned 42 pints and 15 quarts. A 15.5 ounce can of corn costs approximately $0.70 a can. Our pints cost us $0.69 a pint. Again, not a substantial savings, but I know where my food comes from, how much sugar or sodium is in it, and how it was processed.

One thing we process every year is applesauce. My kids love applesauce! This last year we had so many apples that we were giving them away. We had made A LOT of applesauce, apple butter, and apple pie filling and still had so many left over. When, after giving them away we still had 3 buckets left, we decided to juice the left over apples for juice. Oh. My. Gosh. Best decision ever. juiceWe simply put the apples through a juicer and then filtered it through cheese cloth twice. Once that was done, we put it in a (this is muy importante!) non-reactive pan. Trust me on this, we learned the hard way! If you don’t, your juice tastes like sucking on a penny. Blech! You set the heat to medium low and let it come up slowly to 190°. Once at 190° you keep it there for 3 minutes. This pasteurizes the juice. As soon as you have pasteurized the juice, pour into hot, sterile jars and process in a boiling water bath 5 minutes for pints and quarts and 10 minutes for half gallons. No sugar, no preservatives, nothing extra… just juice. It was seriously the sweetest, best tasting, prettiest juice I have ever had in my life.

pie filling

Some of the other things we really like to can are spaghetti sauce, baked beans, BEETS (yum), etc. I like to play around with flavors for jam and see what I can come up with. I’ve canned a mango habanero jam that is excellent on cream cheese and crackers or as a glaze for ham. Another jam I made was a pina colada jam that is pretty much like eating desert from a jar; so yummy. I’ve also done peach salsa, peach pie filling and lemon curd. I do love the curds. Mmmmmm!

Canning can be very labor and time intensive. You really have to ask yourself if taking the time to process your own food is worth the extra ~$50 a year you save. For me, it really isn’t about the money saved. It’s about teaching my kids a skill, teaching them to be self-sufficient. Taking the time to know where my food comes from and what’s in it. Hearing the “plink” of the lid when the jar seals. These are all things that my kids will remember when they look back. It’s about heritage and history. These are the things that are important to me. I hope they will be important to my kids, as well.

Robin crayon

Bobcats, Coons, and Possums…Oh, my!

As a livestock owner, I follow several groups on facebook so I can connect with others who face the same problems I do or possibly have answers to things I am currently facing. For instance, a few of the groups I follow are Oregon Homesteader’s Chat and Chickens Chickens Chickens. One of the hottest topics on these and most other small farm, homesteading groups is how to handle predators. I don’t put myself above other species. I don’t think that I deserve to live more than another animal does. With that being said, however, I will not sit idly by while my flock or livestock is wiped out by a predator without taking action.

Shortly after we released our ducks to the coop with the other birds, we had an incident. I use the word incident because the phrase “I kicked a bobcat” just sounds bad. I was late to close my girls in one night and walked out after dark to see what I thought was my Cayuga duck humping another one of my ducks. If you don’t know, a Cayuga duck is black. At night, in the dark, what appeared to be my Cayuga was, in fact, a bobcat attacking one of my other ducks. I walked up and kicked out at the “duck” (lightly, I wasn’t trying to hurt it, my friends) to get him off of the other, as they were in the doorway of the coop. Once I made contact, I realized I had really gotten myself into a spot. Our setup, at the time, was a shed type coop with a 25sqft run around it. The door to the coop opened up to create a gate for the run. Once I had kicked to bobcat it took off into the coop where it was trapped, scared, and angry and I was blocking the only escape. I managed to put a children’s plastic swimming pool that we used as a duck pond over it until I could get all of my chickens and ducks put away. I left it there and by the time I got up in the morning, it had dug itself out. After seeing that it had gone, I called Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) to ask them about relocating it if I could live trap it and was told that relocating the bobcat only created problems for another person and their livestock. That was something that I hadn’t previously thought about, but realized that it made sense. That was the only predator that we ever had at our previous house, luckily.

When we moved to our current house that did not hold true. Within a week of moving in we lost three ducks and seven chickens. It was heartbreaking for me, as I had raised all of them from babies. It wasn’t just a predator coming to get them and carrying them off, either. My Cayuga from the earlier story was pulled through the chicken wire so hard that, when the wire didn’t tear, his head was torn from his body. We shored up the coop and still the predator found ways to get to my flock. At the time, we also had a small flock of meat chickens we were raising to process. The predator cleaned out all but one of those, as well. I finally got so frustrated I called a friend (we’ll call him BOB) who is a trapper. Bob came to take a look and determined that we had several coons and at least one opossum. It took one day to catch the coon that had been wreaking all the havoc. He was a monster, for sure! He weighed in at over twenty-five pounds and with his tail, was over three feet long. Bob hung the dead coon over the fence next to the coop and from June until November there was not another sighting of any predator. That is how long it took for the carcass to decompose.

Raccoon Attack 002

Shortly after that we moved the coop to a new location on the property. Once it was moved, the coons started coming around again. We caught three in the live trap over a ten day period. In addition to the three coons, we also caught two opossums. We hung the next carcass and the winter was pretty quiet. We were fine until a couple of months ago, when my ducks started going missing one by one. We are still not sure what got them. They were just gone. Poof! No trace. We are leaning more toward a bird of prey than a four legged predator as there are many owls, hawks, and eagles where we live. The weird thing is, none of my chickens came up missing at the same time; only the ducks. I know, weird, right? Last week brought another opossum to the coop. It dug under the wire and was sitting in the nest box eating the eggs. Luckily, those were an easier target than the chickens roosting in the coop. There was no trap involved with this predator, just a 9mm, and a new carcass for the fence.

I remember after the first chicken was killed we talked about it being raccoons. I was so sad about the idea of killing them. Growing up in the Midwest, we would go camping at a state park and feed the local raccoons Doritos from the picnic table. They were very friendly and kind of adorable. After seeing what the coon did to my duck, I was over it. They didn’t even finish eating the whole thing. They would kill them and leave the carcasses half eaten outside of the coop. It was sad and frustrating for me and traumatizing for my flock.

coon carnage

In my opinion, and that is all this blog is really, the predator is free to live a long and healthy life away from my flock of birds. Once you come into my coop or threaten my birds you forfeit your life. I don’t take it any less seriously than a stranger walking onto my property and threatening me or my family. This is my way of life. These birds help me support my family. They provide us eggs to eat and when that egg production falls off they provide meat for my table. I have pigs that are cute to look at and play with, but will eventually provide my family with meat for the table. I have a goat that I am attached to and she will eventually provide offspring that I can barter with and milk that I can use or sell. Everything on my farm has a purpose. If someone tried to damage my property or my family I would not hesitate to protect those, why should my livestock be any different. I respect the opinions and decisions made by other livestock owners regarding their flocks or their property. I won’t argue what you do to ensure that your livestock and flocks are protected. Please don’t lecture me or shame me for how I choose to ensure that my livestock and flocks are protected.

Robin crayon

With a Swap, Swap here…

After we brought home those first six chicks, I guess you could say I was hooked. I loved watching my chickens in the coop and run. I even kept a step stool in the coop to sit on so that I could watch and interact with my girls. In an effort to learn more about them, I started reading information online and looking for other like-minded individuals. That is when I came across chicken swaps. What is this, you ask? What is this amazing thing you speak of, you wonder?

IMG_4830

The first one I attended was just north of Longview, WA and it was super small. We were there for all of thirty minutes, maybe. In that thirty minutes we didn’t find any chickens we were interested in, but we ended up with a bonded flock of five ducks and a bred rabbit doe for $40. Amazing! The bonded flock of ducks had two Rouen hens, two Pekin hens, and a little call duck drake we dubbed Goose. Get it…? Duck, duck, duck, duck… Goose. That’s my son’s humor for you.

I started looking online for other swaps and happened to find a website for the Oregon Poultry and Homesteading Faires. The OPS is a registered domestic non-profit in the State of Oregon. Their mission is to provide commerce opportunities and education to those in the Pacific Northwest by bringing together a variety of agricultural enthusiasts, hobbyists and artisans to share their animals and wares to the communities they serve, as well as providing educational opportunities on a wide range of topics.

OPS

All of their events are free and open to the public. If you want to vend your wares you can register as a vendor for as little as $20.00. There is a swap each season and each event features vendors from around the Pacific NW, a Seed Swap, Educational Demonstrations, Food Drives, Contests, Hands on Activities and more. The only downside I have found to these events is that it is a close knit community of vendors. A lot of times they presell their animals and by the time the event goers are there a lot of the most desirable ones are already sold. It’s disappointing.

I know the above information is limited to Oregon, so Poultry Show Central is another site that can direct you to other swaps by state. If you like auction sites better, American Poultry Auctions is a free to join online poultry auction site dedicated to help spread poultry throughout America. They have a little of everything; chickens, hatching eggs, water fowl, equipment, and miscellaneous other stuff.

APA

APS

I like that I am not dependent on the local farm store or hatcheries for my chickens and ducks. I am excited to be able to go to the swaps and see firsthand what my babies look like before I get them. I appreciate being able to walk around and decide which cutie-patootie chicky or duck I’m taking home with me. For me, the swaps are magical that way. Knowing that I’m not the only crazy chicken lady out there is definitely an added bonus.

you-might-be-a-crazy-chicken-lady-naturally-loriel

I hope you enjoy the sites listed and they help you find what you’re looking for.

Happy Swapping!

Robin crayon

What’s In Your Chicken…?

While reading a blog post by Lisa Held, which can be found here, I came across some really interesting information. In the post, she quotes a book, Tastes Like Chicken: A History of America’s Favorite Bird by Emelyn Rude.  According to the information found in Tastes Like Chicken, Held writes, “Americans today eat 160 million servings of cheap, convenient chicken every day, and as of 2015, the global industry sold more than 59.2 million tons of chicken meat “conservatively worth hundreds of billions of dollars.” By 2023, in fact, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predicts chicken will overtake pork as the world’s most consumed meat.”

I know that, in our house, we eat a LOT of chicken. It can be very lean protein, as long as you trim the fat and remove the skin. The problem with eating so much chicken, of course, is that you have to actually buy the chicken. That can get spendy, especially when you are feeding two growing kids. Scarier even than the price of chicken is what you read on most labels. Many of the products you now find in the stores have been “enhanced” with water, salt, and/or other additives to supposedly help them stay juicier and more flavorful. You have no idea what the solutions are that are being injected into the chickens, as the meat processors are not required to tell you. If you couple the high cost of the meat with the fact that the companies are “plumping” the chicken, you have to wonder just what exactly you are paying for. If you buy a package of boneless chicken breasts at the supermarket for $5.00/lb. and if they’re “enhanced with 15% chicken broth” (as many are) then you’re getting about $4.25 worth of chicken, and $0.75 of water and fillers. In fact, according to the Truthful Labeling Coalition, “the US government estimates that consumers spend $2 billion per year buying salt water at chicken prices.”

The information above, coupled with our desire to be more sustainable and self-sufficient, are some of the reasons we have started raising Cornish Cross meat chickens. Even more important that the cost savings is the fact that we know exactly what we feed them. We know they have not been given antibiotics or medications. We let them free range, to a degree, and forage in addition to the feed we give them. We can be assured that we are providing the healthiest option to our family.

So let’s break it down, start to finish:

We purchased our chicks at Wilco during their annual meat chicken event. If you buy a bag of Purina Poultry feed you get five free chicks, and each chick after that is only $1.09 per chick. We bought two bags of feed for ten free chicks and an additional forty chicks. The Purina feed is $17.99 per 50lb. bag. After those bags we bought Albers at $15.99 per 50lb. bag.

Feed – Purina Broiler Starter x 2 (50lb) $36.00
Cornish Cross chicks x 10 $0.00
Cornish Cross chicks x 40 $43.60
Feed – Albers Grower/Finisher x 12 (50lb) $191.88
Processing x 43 $0.00
Total Cost $271.48
Cost per Bird $6.31

The following table provides an estimate of peak rates of feed consumption and weight gain. The data was obtained from White Cornish Crosses under conventional management (without additional forage).

Broiler Feed Consumption

We looked at raising organic birds, but the cost was prohibitive for us. If you took the same information from above and substituted organic feed for the non-organic we fed you would have the following:

Feed – Purina Organic Broiler Starter x 2 (40lb) $97.84
Cornish Cross chicks x 10 $0.00
Cornish Cross chicks x 40 $43.60
Feed – CHS Organic Broiler Starter/Finisher x 16 (40lb) $782.72
Processing x 43 $0.00
Total Cost $924.16
Cost per Bird $21.49

 

We are only processing 43 (so far) of the original 50 birds. There is to be some loss expected. We wanted 40 finished birds, and were not sure what kind of loss to expect, so we planned for 20%. We are at week five of nine right now, so that number could diminish some more before we are done. Our winter here has been very rough and it hasn’t really wanted to let go. It has been stormy and windy and rainy so moderating the temperature has been difficult at best in the carport canopy we use for our brooder. We lost three the first night; could have been shock form the move. We lost another two a week later. They are not the smartest birds on the planet, for sure. When they sleep they pile on top of each other and the two we lost were on the bottom of the pile. We lost another two the same way last week in week four. When all is said and done, if we don’t lose anymore and we process a total of 43, it will have cost us a total of $6.31 per bird. That’s not too shabby. If we lose a few more and process 40, it will have cost us $7.01 a bird. Still okay in my book.

Although I would love to feed my family organic birds, that’s just not going to be a possibility for some time. I am confident that our home raised flock of birds will still be more healthy and tasty than any I could buy in the store at a much more reasonable price, too. I hope this information helps you in some way. If you were on the fence about raising your own meat chickens, check back in about five weeks to see how the remainder of the adventure went. We will have finished raising and processing them by then.

Here’s to yummy, home-grown chicken!

Robin crayon

To Hatch or not to Hatch… That is the question

To hatch or not to hatch…

Two years ago the wife and I took our two kiddos, along with the nieces and nephew, to town for some reason or another. We happened to stop at the farm store for the good Lord only knows what. When we walked in there was a stacked brooder full of little tiny balls of fluff. So cute, just chirping away. Eva and I talked for a minute and decided, “Why not?” We let each of the bigger littles pick one out and we each picked one. They were named on the way home. And thus was the legend of the first chickens and how it came to pass…

Since that first chick purchase ($18), we have gotten other chickens from other means, as well. One local gentleman had gotten too many and his wife threatened to divorce him. Bad for him, good for us. We got six laying Rhode Island Reds from him ($0). Another girl that I work with had too many and she gave me an Americauna and a Maran ($0).

Then… I discovered the chicken swap, an event dedicated to Poultry and Homesteading. This was an amazing thing for my love of chickens. But, not so much for my wallet. It was like a little tiny slice of Heaven. I went to the first one and brought home a Spanish Minorca ($25) and a Phoenix Chicken ($25). The next swap, my wife accompanied me. Since she is a bit more “frugal” than I am, we spent considerably less. One Americauna pullet ($10), and five straight run chicks ($0). The next swap I found a Crested Cream Legbar ($30); a funny little helmet-headed chicken. We went to the swap this spring and were a little disappointed at the selection and the prices folks were asking. I did, however, purchase four Cream Legbar hatching eggs ($4).

Not Lavender

Wallowing in our disappointment, we left the swap and drove straight to Wilco, a farming supply store. To our amazement *wink*, they had chicks! We purchased twelve ($66). The cost for these was a little higher because I wanted a variety and I have champagne taste in chickens, apparently. My “frugal” wife and I also decided to purchase an incubator at the same time ($99). She is a big advocate for, “Why pay for something we can do ourselves.” Incubator and chicks in hand, we left the store. We got home and set up the brooder for the chicks we bought. Immediately after, we set up the incubator.

WilcoChicks

Of the seventeen chickens we have, two are roos so we have fertilized eggs. As soon as the incubator was set up and had been running for a full day, we loaded it with seventeen eggs. The gestation period is twenty-one days for chickens. The kiddos, Eva and I all waited, very impatiently, for the eggs to come to term. On day twenty, the first pip arrived! Yay! Sadly, the hatch rate was not what we had hoped. Of the seventeen eggs incubated, on seven hatched ($0). We tried again a week later. We loaded the incubator with five duck eggs and seventeen chicken eggs. Of that batch, none of the duck eggs and only six of the chicken eggs hatched ($0).

incuchicks.jpg

There is a lot to consider when incubating eggs. You have to maintain a certain temperature and humidity for the entire period. The ventilation has to be just so. When I read up on the process it says it is really hit or miss and you have to find what works best for you. We are still learning, that is for sure. Of course, we will never have pure bred chickens, but we were never about blue-blooded chickens. We just enjoy having them, hatching them, and raising them. Hatching eggs is such a great learning experience for the kids and they love watching the process. The excitement in a little’s voice when they see that first pip is wonderful!

For us, the question of buying or hatching really comes down to this…

Cost of purchasing chickens over the last two years: $168
Cost of purchasing the incubator and hatching our own chicken eggs: $99

You will have to ask yourself, “to hatch or not to hatch?”

Robin crayon

Welcome to the Menagerie

Greetings, and welcome to the Mighty Menagerie!

Ten months ago my wife and I embarked on a new adventure. We bought a house on twenty acres in a tiny rural town on the coast of Oregon. Previously, we had lived on just over an acre in a larger community, although still a bit rural. On that acre, we had dogs and cats, fish, the occasional turtle. Then one spring day, we took the kids to the farm store and got six baby chicks. I heard somewhere that they are a gateway livestock (see this hilarious youtube video: https://youtu.be/Ll187f27Pxg). Boy, isn’t that the truth!

way with chickens

We were happy with our six chicks. So happy, in fact, that we decided a few ducks would be fun, too. They all grew up and by September the hens were laying some fine, tasty, farm-fresh eggs for us. The ducks started a little later. Then Christmas rolled around and my mother-in-law, in all of her wisdom, bought me a baby goat as a Christmas gift. She was adorable. The goat, not my mother-in-law. Although, at 4’11’’, she is pretty adorable, as well.

Fast forward to the following spring. Back to the farm store we went, where we purchased another couple of ducks. By this time, we have eight chickens, eight ducks, two dogs, two cats, and a goat. That seems like enough, right? Nope. The wife decides that what we really need are a couple of pigs; American Guinea Hogs to be exact. “They’re a pasture pig,” she says… “They’ll be fun,” she says.

Lavender

In the meantime, my wife got a new job 63 miles south of where we lived, 50 miles south of where I work. It was a terrible commute. So we started looking for a house closer to the middle. As chance would have it, not long into our search, days really, we found a house exactly halfway between her job and mine. It was the perfect location. When we talked to the realtor we found out that it was on twenty acres. It was kismet; like it was meant to be.

This is where the menagerie part comes in… Since the move we are now up to two dogs, two cats, one goat, two pigs, four horses, forty-two chickens (for eggs), forty-three Cornish Cross chickens (for meat), one duck (that’s a story for another post), and five rabbits. To that number I add my two kids still at home and the two that are out of the nest, the two nieces, two nephews, and various other family members that are bound to drop by anytime. We are truly a strange or diverse collection of people or things.

Robin crayon