Never in my life did I imagine I would be caretaker to a farm full of animals. When I was very little I wanted to be a veterinarian–until my dad told me I would have to give animals shots. I’ve always been a little soft-hearted I guess. But that’s also why I just can’t say no to more animals!
Puppy #1, aka Bean
When Hubby and I started out, we had a handful of cast-off birds from friends and family plus the chicks we bought from the feed store. We were also gifted a pair of female goats as a wedding present and allowed to borrow their boyfriend. And living on our own out in the country, who doesn’t want a puppy? Then we were offered a great deal on a baby pig–why not get a pig? And why not get more chicks? And guineas? Then we surely had to take another puppy off someone’s hands. And of course we have room to permanently chicken-sit for Hubby’s father (his way of giving things to us).
Then came another pig.
And more chickens.
And then meat chickens.
24 copper and gray Marans
20 mixed run
the Muscovy that hates me…
barred rock chicks
someone wanted to take a bath in pig mud
Puppy #2, aka Pork Chop
And on and on it goes! Now I have two incubators of chicks, one tub of barred rocks, one hospitalized meat bird and a shed full of other birds! But instead of feeling overwhelmed, I feel so completely blessed! I’m not going to preach or go off on a rail about religion and responsibility, but I’m just so happy. I feel strangely fulfilled by having 89 little souls to watch over–plus my favorite addition, Little E! Life is so good!!
In keeping with our theme of self-reliance, the preservation of meat by canning is a valuable skill. Plenty of times you will want to freeze or dry your meat and there is nothing wrong with that under normal circumstances. In the prepper world, there are plenty of arguments against freezers and we learned one of them the hard way when our freezer broke down. Without realizing it, the garage where we kept our freezer had overheated and the unit was without power for about a day and a half on the hottest days of that month. Sadly, the freezer was full of lovely cuts from our 4th of July hog along with veggies, breads and freezer meals. Nothing could be saved. Lots of tears ensued. But, if you can your meats and veggies, everything can be safely stored in a cool room (like a basement). We have not yet gotten into drying meat or veggies though because that’s a little too extreme for me. When I’m cooking, I do need a certain amount of “ready to cook” value there instead of soaking and boiling before I can even begin dinner. So, let’s get to canning some chicken meat!
Hubby and I love our birds–let me start by saying that. We raise birds (and other animals) to know that what we eat has been raised and slaughtered humanely. Unless requested, I will not be posting any pictures of exactly how we slaughter our animals, although I am happy to post about how I process them. This is one of those posts, but there will be no grossness other than what you would experience with a store-bought bird.I have read in many places about the use of a chicken-killing funnel and thought we would give it a try. We had about average success, and while I won’t go into details just know it takes a LONG time for a chicken to “fall asleep”/calm down while upside down. I’m going to try half-gallon jugs next time just to see if a smaller jug will make them feel more contained and “safer” I guess. We’re going to have to keep experimenting with this one.
Super sharp knives
Mounting the kill cones
Hubby, the woodsman!
Yep that’s a fire, mom
Once the two roosters were processed and ready to cook, I put them in a tall pot and covered them with water. After that came to a boil, I let it cook for about 20 minutes, turning them from time to time. Then they came out of the pot to cool until I was able to tear the meat into pieces. The meat went into clean, hot pint jars and topped with hot broth. The rest of the broth went through a strainer and into clean, hot quart jars.
For the meat, I pressure canned the pints at 10 pounds of pressure for 75 minutes (please refer to NCHFP guidelines) and the broth quarts were pressure canned for 90 minutes.
A few weeks after canning the meat, we slaughtered two more roosters so the crazy pregnant lady could have tamales. Like always, we boiled the chicken in plain old water and pulled the meat off the bones. I tossed the bones back in the pot and let it boil a little longer along with a handful each of carrots, celery, onions and potatoes then canned it all up. Just the other day I pulled the last jar off the shelf and threw it in a pot with a pint of canned chicken meat and some homemade egg noodles and magically made the best dinner ever! I had two bowls (which is highly unusual for me) and Hubby liked it so much he even ate the celery!! Suffice it to say that when we slaughter our meat birds in three weeks I am most certainly going out of my way to make as much of that same soup as I can make room for!