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November 12, 2011 / 74

November Doin’s on the Farm

Sorry I haven’t been writing much lately… but this is really a busy time here. I’m trying to clear the detritus from this past year so I can do things at the proper time next spring… weed clearing, left over plant material from the beans and such, planning… you know… stuff! ;-D

And in case you’re wondering – no. I still haven’t dug up the potatoes. The Boss is planning to build a potato storage bin today. If she gets it done – well – there went MY excuse!

Today is opening day of deer season here in MO. I have tags… but the question is do I have time? I’m planning to go out later this afternoon and see if I can catch one napping, and while I’m out there I’ll scout around a bit – something I should have done last month.

If I harvest a deer, I’m planning to break it down and bone it. Then I’ll grind the meat into hamburger-like consistency and can it. If you plan to take “cuts” off the carcass, roasts, loin chops, etc, then you have to “age” the carcass. You hang it in a tree to cool, cover it with cheesecloth to keep the flies off, and age it for a bit. Some folks say three days, others longer and shorter – I guess it depends on the flavor you’re going for and how tender you want it to be. I’ve found that the “tender” part can be accomplished by simply cutting the meat cross-grain… or grinding it into hamburger. Hamburger is REEEEEAL tender! 🙂

I’ll be looking around for some alfalfa hay for the chickens soon. We plan to stack it on the North side of their shed as a wind break, and to feed it to them also. If it was cut at the right time, alfalfa can have as high as 24% protein in it. The “right time” is when the stuff has about 10% bloom. Every day after that you lose protein. I had some that I bought tested once – no weeds or grass in it – but it was only a bit over 10% protein. That’s a lot of feed value lost. when I was making hay on a regular basis, my alfalfa usually ran about 15 to 20% protein depending on which cutting it was. (Third cuttings have more and better leaves in them.) Think about it – the difference between 10% and 20% means you get good value, or you pay twice as much for the inferior feed.

Well… the battery on the little rider lawn-mower is probably charged by now (also doubles as a really REALLY light duty tractor) and I have some 50# sacks of chicken feed to move and store in their cans. If they get out to free-range, my 28 chickens, 5 roosters, and 6 guineas eat about 50# of high protein feed (cut 2:1 with cracked corn – the corn being the 1) every 9 days. When there’s snow on the ground, I expect they’ll eat more… but we’re going to thin them out over Thanksgiving week. We want to end up with 15 hens and one rooster, and the guineas.

We’re hoping to get more animals next year. Maybe a few sheep, a couple of draft horses, a Watch Griffon, and if we can find one looking for work, maybe a fairy godmother.

Well… gotta get back to work!



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