Entries in Eggs (34)

Monday
Oct192015

Final Class of Fall ::: Learn how to Raise and Butcher your Own Chickens

RUSH -- No time to lose to register for Learn how to Raise and Butcher your Own Chickens Class

 

Raising and Processing Pasture Raised Chickens on Any Scale

Sunday November 1, 2015 8a-4pm

 

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We have had several people say they really wanted a chance to learn how to raise and process their own chickens and were hopeful we would have another class this Fall.  We had not originally intended to do a fall class, but have decided that we can can do one to meet people's desires. 

Our scheduling is very tight since this is the time we butcher our farm's fall chickens AND our Thanksgiving turkeys! We MUST know by this Friday the 23rd in order to reserve chickens from our last customer processing this weekend.

 

Information is below or REGISTER HERE
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 Former attendees commented this class helped them feel comfortable with the idea of raising their own chickens and seeing the butchering process up close and personal.   Attendees ranged from curious eaters to serious potential farmers.  All left with positive comments and new ideas!

 

Chickens are an iconic part of the family farmstead and have even evolved to be a popular and valuable part of suburban, urban and rural areas of Kansas City. Chickens have gained this status because they are immensely useful and important. 

In this workshop, we will cover all the basics of raising chickens from brooding new chicks all the way to butchering and preparing them for meat.   All topics will be taught hands-on with examples of what has worked on our farm along with plentiful anecdotes of things that haven't turned out so well.  We will have birds in all stages of development, so you will get to see exactly what it could look like on your farm.  We will give clear examples of how this can be managed at a working-farm scale like ours all the way down to the homestead minded person just keeping a flock for their family.

Topics will include:

  • Choosing breeds of chicks and turkeys (meat birds and egg layers)
  • Raising Turkeys on your farm - differences from chickens
  • Brooding chicks and poults
  • Feed rations, options, and schedules
  • How, when, and why of pasture raising chickens and turkeys
  • Raising egg layers on pasture
  • Keeping Heritage Turkeys on Pasture
  • Dealing with predators
  • Humane slaughter; butchering; packaging
  • Regulations
  • Waste disposal

 Jeff and Laura, I did not adequately thank you for your time on Saturday. Your class was very informative and I learned a lot. Thank you both again! -Ruth

 The class will be divided into two sessions.  The morning session will be a hands-on chicken butchering workshop. Each person will have to the opportunity to learn each step of butchering a chicken and then be able to butcher their own chicken to take home after class.  You will get to see how to butcher using modern commercial equipment such as automatic scalders, dunkers and pluckers as well as how to do it with minimal equipment that you would have at your own home.  

 

The afternoon session will include a hands-on tour of each step of the chicken raising journey as well as a guided tour of the farm seeing the brooder, the pasture pens, the egg mobile, electric netting, etc.  We will also look at how turkeys fit into our farm's poultry operation. There will be a short "classroom" setting where we talk about the finances involved with raising poultry, marketing ideas, and the laws surrounding poultry in Kansas.

In-between the sessions there will be a full lunch with pasture raised meat from our farm where we will be able to sit down and talk farming with other lunatic farmers. 

 

You may choose to attend either of the sessions individually or you may attend both sessions for the whole picture on pasture raised Poultry.  If attending both sessions, the cost is $100, a savings of $25!

 

Morning Session - How to Butcher a Chicken (8-noon) $75

When finished, you will have the skills needed to butcher your own chicken in a humane and respectful way.  In addition to learning the steps, you will complete the entire butchering process on an organic fed Pasture Raised chicken that you will be able to take home to share with your family ($25 value).

Lunch (12-1) Included in the price of either session

Lunch will be served farm style with pasture raised meat from our farm.  It will be a time to visit, get to know each other, share ideas and ask questions.  

Afternoon Session - Raising Chicken for Meat and Eggs (1-5pm) $50

This portion of the class will be focused on learning how to raise healthy and productive chickens. We will start by learning all of the details for brooding your birds from newly hatched chicks.  Then, we'll discuss the important factors for transitioning your birds to pasture and what differences exist if you are raising them for meat or eggs.  You will get to see up close the different shelters we use for each and we will discuss construction details including what has worked and what has not worked in our farm experience.  We will discuss how chickens fit within the overall structure of our farm's systems by cleaning up parasites behind the cattle and by intensively fertilizing targeted pasture areas.  We will wrap-up with a classroom session where we will discuss marketing your products and local laws affecting the selling of your products.

This workshop will be outside so dress accordingly.  Although you may be surprised at how clean you stay during the chicken butchering portion of the workshop, you may want to dress in layers so you can peel your top layer off when that portion of the workshop is done. Waterproof footwear is suggested for all participants.

To register for this class, please click here and fill out the form.  The form will include directions for payment.  

There are very limited spots available, so register early to ensure availability.

Click Here to Register

Monday
Sep142015

How long does a farm fresh egg last?

You look forward to that richly colored yolk, the delectable goodness that is conveniently wrapped up in one small perfectly formed shell.  Nearly everyone has a story about a delicious farm fresh egg!  And we agree, pastured and organic fed eggs are unbeatable!

Many of our Customers sing high praises for our eggs.  Our Customers like them so much, they don't want to run out.  However, Nature has a different plan and our hens do not lay much at all during the winter.  So, oftentimes, on a pretense of stocking up, I am asked how long our eggs keep.  Other customers just want the convenience of picking up eggs only once a month (or two), so they need to know if our eggs will stay fresh that long.

Seeing as how we can easily go through 4 dozen a week, our eggs don't ever get the chance to sit around getting old.  So, I decided to do a little test.  I set aside some eggs on August 29, 2014.  These eggs were all laid on the day I gathered them.  I prepared them as I do for customers, spot-washing as needed to preserve the natural bloom on the egg that helps it stay fresh.  (Did you know store eggs are washed with a chemical sanitizer and the natural bloom is removed?)   I marked each egg with the date, put them in a carton and stored the eggs in the fridge.  Fridge space is precious around here, so you can be assured this was an important project!

I cracked open each egg and took pictures to share what I discovered.  I tested one egg each month for 8 months (that's all I saved, I hadn't planned on doing this a whole year!) and then saved one egg for the one year mark because a year old egg just sounded pretty neat.   

By 'tested,' I mean I cracked open the egg, assessed the overall quality, fluidity, smell, and color.  Then, I scrambled or fried it up and ate it for breakfast.  Would you believe, every single egg was good?  I'm here to tell the tale :)  The eggs had their usual rich yolk from being raised free range on pasture.  The eggs smelled like eggs - nothing rotten or foul.  They all had fluid yolks and albumin.  I did notice a slight drying out in the  one year old egg which was evidenced by less fluidity.  The one year egg yolk was darker (from air exposure I presume).  Still edible, but clearly less fluid.  (my camera had a glitch and I lost the one year egg pics)

So, what does all this mean?  I'm actually NOT suggesting you try to store a year's worth of eggs all at once.  However, I do suggest that if you love your pastured, organic fed eggs from Synergistic Acres* that you stock up when you can.  That might mean an extra dozen or two on a regular basis when available or it might mean getting extra in the summer flush of egg laying to reserve for winter eating.  Pasture raised eggs are a seasonal product.  Of course, you can cut back your egg consumption in the off season, but it might help extend your personal egg eating season to bolster your stash before egg production declines.  Tell your farmher that you'll take a few extra dozen when they are available and I will get them to you as soon as I can!

 

*Every farm is different and your mileage may vary if your eggs are from another farm.  There are definitely well-raised eggs out there, just ask questions when you visit to SEE FOR YOURSELF to ensure you are buying what you think you are buying              /end soapbox (for now!)

 

Know your farmer, know your food!

Saturday
Aug082015

How do I Hook up with Pastured Meat?

'How do I get your food?' is one of the questions we hear a lot.
One of our primary missions is to make getting our food as EASY as possible for people.  Like you, we tend to keep busy and it can be hard to add in extra things...like a country drive to pick up some locally raised and organically fed meat!  

That's why we make a weekly delivery to Kansas City in Lenexa every Wednesday afternoon and Evening.   Just email or order online and we'll bring the food up to you on Wednesday.
 
We also welcome pick up on farm by appointment and would love to show you around while you are here or you can just make a quick stop to pick up your goodies and be on your way.  
Raising our animals in regularly rotated, pastured environments is the hard part - NOT getting it and CERTAINLY NOT eating it :)

 

Monday
Jul202015

FREE RANGE is for the BIRDS


There is a reason why everyone doesn't do truly Free Range Eggs

When we say our birds are free range -- we mean they FREE range.  As in they wander over literally 1,000,000 ft2 of our farm.

Our large flock of laying hens range in constantly rotated pastures.  We loosely define their range to mean within a few hundred yards of their elaborately furnished "eggmobile".  This eggmobile is the only home these hens know and therefore they stick close to it no matter where it is moved.  We move the eggmobile to new pasture following the larger animals around to take advantage of the disturbance created by their grazing to open up the environment for the chickens to flourish with new bugs and growth.  After spending a few days cleaning up -- we move their roost to a new spot and they happily work there until moved again.

THAT'S ONLY WHEN EVERYTHING GOES AS PLANNED..... Sometimes however, things can go a little sideways.  We have to remember that we're dealing with chickens.  Chickens are lovable and fascinating creatures who are VERY GOOD at being chickens. However, brilliance is not one of their evolutionary gifts. After all, consider that the egg they lay everyday out their backside is about 3 times the size of the brain that controls the whole ship.  Sometimes, if the eggmobile gets moved close enough to its previous location the flock can still wander back to where they used to be -- but still far enough they can't see the roost while foraging --  then the hens get confused.  They go back to where they were and forage all day -- then when it starts to get dark -- they're stuck.  They can't find their roost and as darkness creeps up they can't overcome their instinct to hunker down and roost.  When this happens, we will usually find them in the middle of the pasture -- in the EXACT spot the eggmobile was last -- huddled together like lost rabbits.

This is where the fun begins.  We don't want to leave them unprotected from their roost at night, so we need to gather them and carry them to wherever the eggmobile is. The problem is that although they are huddled and stationary, at the first sense of danger they immediately scatter and try to evade capture like runaway prisoners.  

Welcome to my Friday night fun. This exact scenario happened as I did my nightly routine of going out to shut-up hens.  Out of habit, I checked their old roost spot since I had moved the egg mobile that morning.  Lo and behold -- there were about 30 birds all huddled up together.  That's more lost souls than typical.  Capturing and moving 30+ hens in the middle of the night was going to be a challenge.  I had a plan.  I turned out the lights of the ATV and drove to the other side of them and parked about 10 feet away.  Then I turned on the lights shining them across across the huddle of hens.  Quietly exiting the ATV, I snuck around to the other side and stealthily moved in for the nab.  I grabbed the first hen before she even expected anything and cradled her in my arms as I carried her over to the ATV where she would wait on the floor until I returned.  I did this 4 times, each time without alarming any other hens.  This was going GREAT.   I'm such a  good farmer!  On the 5th one though -- all that changed.  When I reached for the hen, she let out a quiet but strong cluck that sent the 20+ remaining chickens scattering like uncovered popcorn.  After that, each hen captured required its own special operation mission of tracking, hunting and evading.  It took slightly longer than the average American spends watching their favorite episode of Breaking Bad.  

In the middle of this fun, unplanned Friday night adventure I wondered - as I often do -- Is this really my life? Belly crawling across the ground trying to outsmart a chicken to ensure it is safe on its roost at night.  Then, just as quickly, I say it is -- because we provide food with integrity, food with a story,and food with a  purpose.

When we say Free Range -- we mean Free Range.  And sometimes free range means that the farmer had to crawl around in the cockle burrs so you could get your favorite eggs.

It's not just green grass that makes our free range hens happy and healthy
Friday
May222015

Who laid THAT egg?

Have you ever had an egg that didn't come from a chicken?  I remember an Easter egg hunt my grandparents did where we had to find goose eggs.  Those were huge!  I was sure they couldn't be real because they looked so different than the eggs I was used to from the store.

On our farm, we have several species that lay eggs - guineas, chickens and turkeys.  Our laying chickens are our biggest flock and they lay seasonally, starting in spring when the light increases and declining in fall as the light decreases.  Because we choose to raise several different breeds, we have several different colors of eggs.  They vary in size but they ALL taste wonderful as they are all raised on regularly rotated pastures and provided organic grains.  Most of our chickens will lay an egg every 2-3 days except in winter when they naturally have a rest period.  The yolks are a rich yellow-orange and the shells are strong.Pasture raised hens follow our cattle to distribute the 'fertilizer'

We also have a large flock of guinea fowl.  They are also pastured raised, but they are more guests than livestock.  They stick around and hatch out new keets every year, but they definitely do their own thing.  They generally roost in one of our trees and roam our property (and beyond) each day.  We choose not to confine them in any way and they naturally range much farther than chickens.  Due to their extreme free ranging, we do not have regular access to their eggs.  However, in spring and late summer, we often discover a few laying areas that are not being brooded and are able to enjoy those eggs.  Our guineas seem to lay more in spring and late summer whereas they don't lay in winter or as much in the heat of the summer.  Our guinea eggs are about 2/3 the size of a chicken egg, have a more pointed end and a very thick shell.  The yolk is nearly the same size as a chicken yolk so the albumin ratio is more equal as there is only so much room in the shell!  Generally, I notice more nuances of the forage in the guinea eggs - it's a depth of flavor I really like.

our pasture raised turkeys are joined by a guinea as they search out the best greensOur third egg layer is our Heritage Turkeys.  They lay for about two months in the spring and we incubate most of our turkey eggs as we raise Turkeys for meat.  Our turkeys range on pasture all year long and finding eggs can be a challenge.  In our efforts to collect eggs, we have restricted their ranging during laying season and alternatively tried continuing their free ranging and seeing if we continue to get good fertility and a high enough egg number.  Our turkeys often range near our chickens and they sometimes choose laying areas nearby so we have become familiar with these spots.  Our turkey eggs are about 30% larger than a chicken egg and have a sturdy shell.  They have a deep yolk color and the few we get to eat taste wonderful.

This year, we had at least one of our turkeys 'go broody.'  After laying over a dozen eggs in a hidden-to-us nest, the turkey hen sat on the nest and brooded it for a full 28 days.  While broody, she only got up once or twice a day for a quick food, water and bathroom break.  Otherwise, she hunkered down on her eggs day and night through any type of weather and incubated her eggs.  I happened to come across her one day, so we kept an eye on her progress.  She successfully hatched out 9 poults and they are dutifully tottling after her as she shows them what it means to be a turkey!  

We also had a front yard chicken, one of our personal flock, go broody this spring and is currently tending her chicks.  We had two other hens from our front yard flock take up residence in our nest boxes.  You can check in with us in late May to see if they had success!  It is certainly awe-inspiring to see a bird naturally hatch out babies.  

We appreciate the variety and synergy the different species bring to our farm

Pasture raised, organic fed chicken eggs available!  Pick up on farm or at our convenient weekly city delivery site.  Email or text or call to order.  Reserve your egg goodness today!

Pork- Italian Brats, Ham, Bacon, Breakfast Sausage.  We make FREE weekly deliveries to Lenexa, KS if you are interested in trying any pork.  

 

 

Synergistic Acres - 21733 Iliff Rd, Parker, KS 66072 - 913-735-4769
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