Today, we are going to share instructions on how to build a nipple drinker for your pastured poultry. We use these primarily with our chickens, but it also works well for turkeys. Keep in mind, waterfowl need to dunk their bill into the water, so this doesn’t work for them. This project takes under 15 minutes, and is cheaper than the poultry fountain drinkers you can find in most farm stores, plus they are much easier to fill.
First off, let’s talk about what a poultry nipple is. We like these awesome side mounted drinkers from Lovatic. They don’t leak, work well even when it’s below freezing, and keep the water cleaner. They have a little metal center piece, a small lip on the bottom edge for the water to collect on, and they easily screw into the bucket. We have had these for a couple seasons, and they’ve outlasted one of the buckets. They can easily be removed and transferred to a new bucket should the bucket crack or otherwise be made unusable. The birds seem to figure them out pretty easily, but we show them how they are used several times over the course of a couple days just to be sure.
Earlier this month, we did a special farm event with our friends at Green Gardens Community Farm. We had several people ask for the recipes, so here is one of them! And I won’t give you a novel before I tell you how to make it. Asian chicken tacos with cabbage slaw are quick and easy, and can be made ahead of time, and assembled later. The measurements are approximate, so don’t worry too much about getting it precise.
Ingredients: One whole pasture raised chicken Salt and Pepper Corn tortillas
Cabbage Slaw: One head of cabbage 1/4 cup thin sliced green onions 1/2 cup cilantro 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil 1 tablespoon soy sauce
Set oven to 375F. Spatchcock the chicken. If you don’t know how to spatchcock, get yourself a pair of poultry shears, and watch a video. It’s super easy, and reduces the cook time of the chicken tremendously. Flatten the bird onto a sheet pan lined with aluminium foil. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Stick in pre-heated oven for 35-45 minutes, or until food thermometer reads 160F when stuck into breast meat. Once finished, set aside to cool slightly. After chicken has cooled enough to handle, pull the meat off the bone. Chop it into chunks less than 1 inch.
While waiting for the chicken to cook, prepare the slaw. Quarter and core head of cabbage. Slice the quarters into 1/8 inch ribbons. Combine in large bowl with onions and cilantro. In smaller bowl, whisk together rice wine vinegar, both oils, and soy sauce. Pour over the cabbage mix, toss together, and place in fridge until ready to serve.
To serve, throw some chicken and some slaw on a tortilla. It’s easy. I don’t think you need instructions for that. Serve it with a side of pea shoot salad (Recipe coming soon!)
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As I sit and write this, Thanksgiving is the furthest thing from my mind. However, we run a farm, and we are constantly thinking about the next seasons, and following years.
A couple weeks ago, an acquaintance of ours found some turkey poults for a great price. He contacted me and let me know. I contacted a few friends to see if they would want to get some with me. A couple friends were available, but the first person to jump at the opportunity was Janice. She is part of the fantastic family of folks who came to install our high tensile fencing, Sitting Bull Fencing and Agriculture Solutions. She finished up her chores, and we, along with her twin daughters, headed to Family Farm And Home.
The girls found some pretty Plymouth Blues, and we decided to get the rest of them. We split them between us, and we are all quite happy with that. They also picked up a few Cornish X, which were discounted pretty heavily.
Finally, we got to the turkeys. Initially on the phone, the employee told me they had about 40. Once we got there, there were only 30 in the bin, but he was willing to honor the discounted price for as many as we wanted. We came to the conclusion that it would be irresponsible to not take all of them. So into the boxes they went! All 100+ of them.
We did split the turkey purchase, and they took home about 30 turkeys, in addition to their Plymouth Blues, and Cornish X. They will have some full freezers and lots of eggs soon!
Unfortunately, we did lose a few of the poults early on. We couldn’t get the temperature of the brooder to stay consistent, and we think that stressed them out. Once we got that worked out, they’ve been doing really well.
As with all of our animals, they are eating a feed ration that is from a local grain mill. They use locally grown grains, so this helps strengthen our local economy, and reduce the carbon footprint of our animals. This is something that is very important to us. In addition to being fed the feed ration, they will be on pasture, with access to grass, bugs, seeds, and fresh air. They will be free to be turkeys and do what turkeys are supposed to do!
So now, onto the exciting part for all of you! Turkeys for the holidays! We will start getting these processed in late August or early September. We plan on staggering the butchering dates so they are a variety of sizes. They will be priced at $3/pound, and sold as whole birds with the giblets included. It will look a lot like what you get in the grocery store, but not pumped full of preservatives, water, salt, sugar, modified food starch, or “Sodium Phosphate to enhance tenderness and juiciness”.
If you are interested in ordering one of the turkeys, please send us a message and let us know about how large of a bird you would like to purchase. Since this is our first year, we are anticipating a wide range in our weights, and we will do our best to accommodate all size requests. Please understand that raising poultry in small batches is not fool-proof, and we cannot make any promises on sizes.
As we get nearer to the holidays, we will share some suggestions on how to enjoy pastured turkey.
Last week, we got a message online from a writer at the local newspaper. He was interested in interviewing us about the unseasonable weather we’ve had in our area lately, and we were more than happy to have him come and visit.
Brooks Hepp, from Battle Creek Enquirer, came over that evening and we chatted while sitting on some inverted five gallon buckets, in our incredibly untidy garage. He had done some research on us, and asked some great questions. We then walked around the property so he could meet the animals and get some photos.
A few days later, super early in the morning, we received a message via Facebook. We found out we were on the front page! This was way more than we expected, and was really, really cool. We jumped out of bed and headed to the local gas station. We bought them out of Enquirers, and headed to another location as well.
Pretty intense title, right? Well, we chose to omit some more… colorful… language from it. This should be sufficient to get the point across.
So, why do we hate balloons? Several reasons actually. Balloon waste has been found in the great lakes. We’ve rid ourselves of microbeads in most of our cosmetics, but the waste from balloons is going to end up in our fish. It’s killing our birds. Mylar balloons can short out power lines, and electric fences. And the worst for us? Our animals could eat them, and die. There have been several farmers worldwide who have lost livestock because they ingest a balloon. This is a long, drawn out, painful death. They can either suffocate, or the ribbon can get wrapped up in their digestive tract. Could you imagine the pain of having the circulation cut off to your intestines, and then having them ripped open, spilling digestive juices into your body? Gross.
In addition to all the pollution, there is a global shortage of helium. Several party stores have closed because they can’t acquire helium anymore. That sucks, right? Want to know what other industries use helium? Healthcare. Military. Nuclear power. Space exploration. Digital device production. [Source] So not only are we saying goodbye to balloons, we could be saying goodbye to SO MUCH technology, and lifesaving healthcare.
What can you do? STOP BUYING HELIUM BALLOONS! This removes the possibility of accidentally, or intentionally, releasing them. Balloons never make it to heaven, they end up in the pastures of your local farmers. Blow bubbles or sprinkle wildflower seeds instead. Encourage your loved ones to do the same.
Please note that I am not trying to call out any individuals. This is meant to make you think about your impact on the planet. If you feel personally attacked, it’s probably time for some introspection.
This spring has been a wet one. Our garden is delayed, and we are scrapping some of our plans altogether, unfortunately. We are hoping for some not-so-wet weather in the coming month so that our fall crops will do well. Cross your fingers for us!
The wet weather thankfully hasn’t affected our meat production. Our first batch of chickens is going to the processor on June 27. They are Red Bro Color Yield Broilers, from The Chick Hatchery. We really enjoy how they look, and they are doing really well on pasture.
We will have them fresh, never frozen at the Marshall Farmers Market on June 29. They will be ready for the grill that afternoon! Any birds that are not sold that day will go into the freezer.
A few days later, we are having a special event at Green Gardens Community Farm. July 1, which is Canada Day, those fine folks will be hosting Check Out Your Chicken. We will be preparing some chickens so you can taste them before purchasing. They will be available as whole birds for $4.50/lb. We will not be offering cut ups for this first batch, but we might in the future.
If you have any questions about these birds, our process for raising them, or anything else, feel free to contact us!
The last couple weeks have seen some really intense releases on the big and small screens. People have been talking about the movies and television episodes obsessively, and it’s gotten to the point where I have given up on reading anything online without those topics sneaking in. I don’t really care about either Game of Thrones or Avengers: Endgame, but I’m fine with others finding enjoyment in either or both. What I am not fine with is the amount of free publicity everyone is giving to both of those powerhouses, and getting nothing in return.
Running a small business is difficult. Robert and I are simultaneously farmers, veterinarians, publicists, marketers, landscapers, housekeepers, and so much more. We wear so many hats in one day, in addition to Bob’s full time job, that it’s shocking we manage to get any tasks completed. One of the only things that we can crowd source is our marketing. We have a small handful of friends who share our posts on Facebook, retweet us on Twitter, or leave us comments on Instagram. But the number of interactions we get across a month of posts on all platforms is eclipsed by the number of memes I’ve seen about Game of Thrones in the last week posted on just Facebook. And what are you getting in return for sharing some GoT related posts? Nothing.
We get it. You love these forms of entertainment. That’s awesome! But you know what is more important than entertainment? Your food. We are trying to grow and produce food that is healthy, free from growth hormones and weird antibiotics, and as good for you as it is for the planet. We are trying to make a small impact in our area. And we would really love if you gave the local businesses you support just a little bit of that energy you give to sharing posts from a literal multi-billion dollar industry. Businesses like ours depend on our fans and friends to help us out. We often don’t have a budget for marketing, and hope that something will gain some amount of traction and get noticed. Going viral can take a small business from something that barely pays for itself to a full time income. We don’t expect to go viral for anything we do, but we would appreciate receiving a little love from you.
I don’t want to come across like I am begging for attention. But I am hoping something I say resonates with some of you. Leave a thumbs up or a love on a post from a local business. Leave a Google or Yelp review for a place you really enjoyed. Shop at your local farmers market. Support the people who are helping to build your community. Not just for our sake, but for every small business trying to get a little bite of the pie.