One thing that is important to me in our Real Food is endeavor being aware of where our food is coming from. We hope some day in the future to be able to consume most of our food from local sources. But like everything, it takes time to make that happen. It has been easiest for us to focus on getting our protein from local sources. We get our beef from a rancher about 20 miles from us as part of a CSA, our milk comes from a small local dairy, our eggs are either from my five little chickens or a friend with chickens, and we have been able to get pastured chickens from the same friend a couple of times. We actually helped with the processing of the chickens once and our Thanksgiving turkey came from her and lived with us for just over a week and then my wonderful husband processed that turkey (along with two ducks given to us a bonus with the turkey). Now that we are feeling comfortable with the processing we are moving onto a new endeavor. Raising our own chickens for meat.
I wasn’t really sure that this was something I wanted to do. I love having my chickens for eggs and even though I said I wouldn’t, have become slightly attached to those silly chickens. We wanted six hens and ended up with five hens and a rooster. All was well until a few weeks ago when the rooster decided that jumping on our legs every time we went out would be a good idea. As a result of that, we now have five hens only. I’ll admit that it was a little challenging for me to be okay with processing that rooster but it turned out to not be as bad as I expected. In some ways it felt good to know that this chicken was cared for by me. I knew that he had been running around the yard in the company of his hens. I knew that he was a good protector to them and quite the gentleman always letting the hens go first when I took out scraps or water. And please don’t think me morbid but everyone agreed he was the best tasting chicken we had ever had. I believe that a big reason for that is he was a happy rooster.
I now know that raising and processing our own meat is possible for us. I have big plans this year to add more chickens for laying and for meat plus (maybe) ducks and turkeys. Financially, all that may not be possible right now but a girl can dream. Having meat and egg chickens and a little garden will be a big step toward our goal of knowing our food source. I know that this is not possible for everyone (or even what everyone wants to do) but it is a great choice for our family.