This is part of this month’s Self Reliance Challenge. You can find more information and a list of the homesteaders who are participating in an earlier post. Or, click on the graphic to the right.
Inventorying the freezer is usually later on the winter to do list. I had an “off” year for raising meat on the homestead in 2018. With a moose permit in hand, the big question was how we’d have room for a moose, not how many chickens, ducks and turkeys to raise. There is indeed a moose in the freezer, and Steve’s bear as well. Right now there’s enough meat in the freezer to last us a year but most of it is bear and moose. I do need to raise birds this year.
We keep more than a year’s worth of food in the freezers (two 15 cu ft chests, one 5 cu ft chest, and the small space above the fridge). If something happens to a flock or crop I want to be sure there’s enough to get us through an extra six months.
One Cornish Cross chicken averages four suppers for us. One-half breast (both sides equals one breast, not two) is one meal. I make a lot of chicken soup. We stretch meat out a long way. This year I’ve decided to raise 35 chickens. That gives me ten to use in bartering and gifting.
I did plan to have Khaki Campbell ducks for meat. Steve isn’t a big duck fan so three drakes is enough for me for the year. Last year’s batch of ducklings yielded one drake and five hens. So much for the 50/50 split. I really don’t need more duck eggs. I’ll have the Silkie chickens raise six or eight ducklings. If I get a lot of hens again I’ll have to deal with them either by eating older hens or rehoming older hens or ducklings.
And that leaves turkeys. We have to buy a minimum of six birds in the state of Maine. I don’t need six turkeys so I’ll either ask to add four to someone’s order or I’ll get six and use two for bartering. With four birds we have one for Thanksgiving, one to save whole for a winter feast with all the trimmings, one to split between Kristin and Taylor, and one to break into parts for soups and meals that don’t leave pounds of meat to use as leftovers. We raise Broad Breasted Whites, the commercial white bird. In the past we’ve raised BB Bronze and the heritage breed Bourbon Reds. I don’t want to over winter turkeys anymore so White it is. A lot of the meat from the turkeys goes into turkey salad. I have RA so it’s that much more important to not eat processed meats. A sharp knife will slice wholesome, pasture raised turkey breast into thin slices if that’s what I want.
I don’t have plans to buy a half pig this year. If we didn’t have the moose and bear we would but for this year I’ll buy a few packages at a time locally, and I’ll order pork belly and make bacon.
We hunt partridge (ruffed grouse) and wild turkey. If it’s a good year for both we’ll have eight partridge and four turkeys to eat. There’s never a shortage of responsibly raised meat here. And then there’s fish… 😉