OOk so it has been a little over a month since our 16 Freedom Ranger meat chickens arrived on our tiny farm. And let me tell you they are NOT those cute, fuzzy little chicks anymore! They are growing at an alarming rate. To put that into perspective… we hatched out our own laying hens a few months ago and these almost 5 week old meat chickens are practically the same size as them! It’s just crazy!
Raising your own food isn’t easy and you are going to have some struggles along the way. For the first four weeks or so we raised the chicks in a brooder in our upstairs living room. Every morning the kids would go check on them and help me fill their food and water. One morning my oldest daughter discovered one of the chicks has died over night. Not too sure what happened, it make have gotten suffocated under the others. But losses are inevitable and it is all part of the journey. It’s important for us to have our children experience this whole process with us and this is just another lesson to be learned.
Now our 15 remaining chickens are outside spending their days in the sunshine! They have so much space to roam around, peck at bugs, roost on roosting bars and dust bathe. But they really don’t do much of that at all. They spend most of their day huddled around the feeder, gobbling up as much food as possible. We have had to limit the amount of food available to them so they don’t grow too quickly. They seem happy and healthy and will get to live out the rest of their days before it gets too cold. We plan on harvesting at the beginning of December, so hopefully the weather will be mild.
We have been getting a lot of crap from family and friends about how they cannot believe we are going to eat our pets. Let me tell you… these chickens are NOT pets! Their main goal in life is to eat, that’s it! So it is really hard to form an emotional attachment to something that tries to peck your hand off every time you get near it! Our laying hens on the other hand are true pets. They come when called, eat out of your hand, and even allow us a cuddle now and again.
So to those who don’t understand how we can eat animals we raise ourselves, we have a distinct difference between pets and food. That being said, all our animals are truly loved, cared for and given the best life we can provide. There is a sense of pride in knowing exactly where your food is coming from and raising it from the start. That being said we tried this last year with two turkeys and when the time came to harvest them my big, bad hunter husband felt bad and couldn’t do it! We didn’t have the space to keep them and they were starting to get kinda nasty so they are currently living on the beautiful farm of a friend! Haha!
I had to include this picture of our youngest in here. She is so fascinated by everything and the pure joy in this picture just makes me smile. She loved watching the baby chicks in the brooder and now loves watching all our animals outside. So fun!
I will update again once we get a little closer to harvest time. Collin thankfully has a friend with a family farm who is very fluent in the butchering process, so I think he will be on hand that day for his expertise. Any tips and tricks you experienced homesteaders can throw our way would be greatly appreciated! Everything we do in life is an adventure and we have lots to learn along the way! So any help we could get would be greatly appreciated!!