Before I get into the details of meat birds, I have decided to give my kids “blog names” for the sake pf privacy and security. I want them to reach their majority at least before they have to start managing an online persona… I have asked them to come up with something so I will add them in. Our first has decided he wants to be “Oldest Brother”. We will see how long they like their names!
All right, that’s enough to get started on this post. Oldest Brother (who is nearly fourteen, nearly as tall as I am and would weigh the same IF I were not currently pregnant), apparently, needs a project. Every week or so he comes up to me and says, Momma, I think I’d like to raise a flock/herd of (something). I want to encourage all the kids to do things like this. We’ve talked about, rather than giving them money for college/missions/starting out getting them started on enterprises such as these where they can work to earn their own. Money one earns oneself is rarely wasted, especially at these ages when it is earned with such great difficulty. I well remember the hundreds of hours of babysitting I did in my teens at a dollar an hour… It seems that this early understanding of the value of a dollar is a good legacy to leave them with. Anyhow, I digress. Until this week, I could not meet his ideas with unqualified enthusiasm. The land is plentiful and has a great deal of potential but it is BARE. All animal shelters, gardens, orchards, etc must be built, dug and planted by us as time, energy and finances allow. We do have a single fenced pasture on the North side of the property, but it is now seriously overgrazed (after having two rather piggish little wethers, their mom and aunt on it during the dry and barren summer months) and not providing much besides space for our two milk does to walk around during the half of the day they are out there. In it’s current state it can hardly be counted as much of an asset and it is certainly insufficient to support additional animals. Thus his idea of raising a herd of meat goats was not met the way he had likely hoped. Goats require fences to prevent the premature strangling of said animals as they can be rather destructive when untrammeled. Goats also require a fair amount of maintenance, from hoof-trimming, to breeding and kidding, disbudding, castration and de-worming and the loss of an animal represents at least $100 worth of purchase price plus all the above inputs. It didn’t seem like the best place to start.
This week his proposal was meat birds and it was immediately followed by the revelation of a salmonella outbreak at the processing plant where we bought our chicken this weekend. His timing couldn’t have been better… We had a friend who worked in the meat section of a grocery store who told us that some degree of salmonella contamination is near-universal in store-bought chicken, so I realize that this is nothing new and we are always very careful in our cooking and handling of meat, but, boy, it sure would be nice not to be bringing that stuff into my kitchen at all. And so, Oldest Brother is putting together a (hopefully!) comprehensive proposal on raising a flock of meat birds for the family. We will provide the chicks, feed and materials, and he, the labor. If he gets to the point that he feels he can make it financially profitable, we’ll likely re-work the details to make it more completely his.
Currently, I think he’s inclined toward Freedom Rangers and he is trying to hash out chicken tractors vs. moveable poultry fencing. He’s gathered up all the chicken books we own and is currently reading “Pastured Poultry Profits”. I’m trying really hard not to give too much advice or overwhelm him with suggestions. I love researching new projects, so I have to keep reminding myself that this is his baby. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with!