Back in April, I wrote an article about how to use permaculture to provide nutritious food and minimize our work. In my article I talked about the chickens that I would be getting to clean our hoop house.
Well, I am glad to show you the results of our endeavor.
This weekend, we butchered the broilers at about seven weeks of age. They weighed in at approximately 6 pounds each, having spent their time eating out the hoop house, cleaning it of insects, weed seeds, and supplemented with organic GMO free feed. Here you can see the job they have done cleaning.
I’ll admit this is not one of the prettiest pictures I have posted on this blog, but it does speak volumes. We can see the remains of a beet root. The chickens have entirely cleared it of all of its greens, and it is the only one remaining from a row of them. Clearly the chickens like beets. They have also cleared all the chard and kale, and have left a few insignificant weeds. Their pecking has brought stones to the surface, where they can be easily raked away. While you can see an occasional feather, there is little evidence of manure, which shows that the chickens were not overcrowded. All these signs are good.
In the next weeks I will post our changes to the hoop house. We were going to sow summer crops in it, but have decided to relocate this hoop house to another location and plant this one with black plastic and irrigation tubing. We are doing this on another section of the farm and the growth rate for the plants exceeds the rate for any other garden or hoop house on the property.
Back to the broilers, here is a photo of a freshly plucked bird. It is well filled out and healthy looking. Since these chickens had access to so much space, they did not have the weakened leg issues that can contribute to problems on the bottom of their feet or on their chests.
I completed butchering this chicken and tucked fresh herbs under its skin and in the cavity. The herbs used were lemon thyme and rosemary. The skin was sprinkled with sea salt and pepper. Off to the smoker for 6 hours of slow smoking, periodically pouring red wine over it. And here it is in it finished glory! Yum!
The rest of the birds were vacuum packed and put into the deep freeze. We will be able to enjoy smoked and barbecued chicken, broth and soups throughout the summer.