Thursday, September 27, 2018

Meat, Meat and More Meat

It is Fall.

 Fall in Illinois means cool nights, sunny warm days, rapidly changing leaf colors and of course, in our instance, livestock to the lockers.

Our Freedom Ranger broilers were more than ready (size wise) for their trip to Arthur, Il and Central Illinois Processing Plant. We were up at four last Friday in order to get chores done and make the two hour drive south. We borrowed chicken crates from our friends at Timberfeast (thanks again Katie and Mark) and loaded up the birds after dark on Thursday. Easier to catch that way.

Exact butchering/processing cost was $134 for 38 birds or about $3.53 per bird which included the slaughter, the carcass cleaning, the cutting into pieces of half the birds while leaving the other half whole, the vacuum packing, and cooling of carcasses.  We dropped the birds off at seven am and they were ready for pickup at noon.

So happy we did it this way instead of butchering our own as we've done for the last 20 years, especially since Keith is spending any free time he has on the 1868 house demo.

After dropping them off with our instructions for cut up, we cruised the wild Amish streets of Arthur, got a bite to eat and found a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE, garage sale. Seriously, it was big. The owners were "Storage Wars" folk who buy up at auction, various storage units. They sell some of the loot on Craigslist, but what's left becomes part of their twice a year garage sale. I forgot to take pictures as I was too busy stuffing my basket with deals.

I scored great, inexpensive stuff, for future Birthday and Christmas gifts as well as our own farm needs. Work boots and jeans for 50 cents each ? Yes, please. My savings from my purchases there more than paid for our gas, the cost of the broiler butchering, and our meals out that day. 

On the way home we took a detour west to Lincoln, Il where we purchased five tiny piglets for our winter hog crop. They are cross bred Red Wattles and we'll raise them until early spring 2019. They are the replacements for the three big fat summer hogs who went to the locker yesterday, plus two more as a couple of our regulars voiced a need for a whole hog rather than just half. 

Below are the 7 month old big hogs meeting their five week old replacements.  Note the difference in the pasture area. Hogs, over time, do a great job of tilling the earth and working organic matter like bedding and manure into the soil, while eating grubs at the same time. Here in the US less than 5% of all hogs raised get to feel the earth under their feet as ours do. The rest suffer their entire lives within the walls of concrete bedded confinement buildings. 

Of the three big hogs, one  will go into our freezer while the other two will grace the freezers of three other customers. They had a most excellent time here the last few months eating organic grain, slurping up leftover milk from our cow, digging happily in their large pasture, and bathing at will in their spa like mud hole.

Even their last day was filled with pleasure as I used a few eggs to tease them onto the livestock panel before their ride down porkchop highway. 

Now the issue is rearranging all the meat in our freezers, (those big birds took up tons of space) so we'll have room for the bacon, chops, hams, sausages, hocks and shoulder roasts that will be ready for pickup in about three weeks.Yes, you're right, we have nothing to complain about, our meat needs are more than met! 

Except for Salmon. We need to figure out a way to raise Salmon here on the prairie.


  1. Well done! You raised them right, did the work, and now reap the benefits. Happy roasting! -Jenn

    1. We can't wait to get the meat back, especially the pork chops and the bacon which we always consume at Warp Speed.

  2. The last photo gives another slant on the phrase 'snouts in the trough'.

    1. When they were piglets all three could fit their entire bodies into that pan...not anymore.

  3. We're so lucky to have a family that processes chickens a mere 15 minutes from here. I need to make an appointment for some old layers and maybe, just maybe, a couple of geese. It makes me sad but I do love me some nice meat.
    (Ok, when I read your comment on my blog and then the title of this post... well... I Could Not Resist A Meat Joke).
    There was a person locally (in PA!) selling shrimp awhile back and a tilapia farm about 45 minutes from us... so maybe there is hope for the salmon. Until then I guess you have Aldi's?
    I have been without a phone since the book sale, having driven away with it on the roof of my car, it didn't end well. Will absolutely send you some pictures and info as soon as I'm up and running again.

    1. Oh man, the flying phone off the top of the car, I feel your cellular pain.

      I do buy my salmon at Aldi's. The smoked stuff and the fresh filets. For about $8 the filets make a good meal for two. I do love Aldi's !

  4. Since you have success with chickens, pigs and cows, I am suee you will one day figure out how to harvestbsalmon as well, Donna. And, it’s my favorite seafood meal too.

    1. I've been spoiled though. I've eaten salmon in Ireland many times and the fish raised off the west coast and sold by Kinvara Smoked Salmon is to die for. Doubt if farm raised could taste near so lucious but who knows?


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