Planning Next Year

I have been planning the next year here on our little farm.   I will be enlarging the veggie garden and need to plan the layout and planting schedule, especially since our growing season is so short.  Unfortunately for our cat, I need to move his “space” away from the basement window.  I will need it for seedlings unless I can manage some sort of greenhouse before planting time.  Not going to happen though I did find an easy and low-cost version on Pinterest which I pinned to my Homesteading board:

We are thinking about delving into meat chickens now that our daughter can no longer eat store-bought ones at all, and we have found a processor that seems to be a decent sort.   Ideally, we would have the education and space to do it ourselves, but we are not that far yet.

I am looking into Dark CornishBuckeye and/or Red Rangers.  The other option is to purchase them already processed, but finding organic, soy-free, pastured chickens in a pain in the backside.   Not to mention expensive.

To give you an idea of the costs here:

I raised two Bourbon Toms specifically for eating during the holidays.  My daughter and I became sick of not having turkey due to food sensitivities.    If I had bought organic and pastured from a local farm, it would’ve cost me $7.00 a pound.  However, they would not be soy-free.

Ours dressed out at about 13 pounds each which is small for Bourbon Red toms.   It’s an okay size for our family, so it’s not too bad. We started late and had to process them early.  The total for both would’ve been $182.  It cost me about $100 to raise both for 19 weeks (including building the hut).  Raising them for the length they should have been raised, 20-24 weeks, wouldn’t have cost more.

Researching meat breeds has taken a bit of time along with researching a few other things.  During said research, I have discovered that I lean towards heritage breeds but not just any breeds.  What catches my attention are the breeds that are in danger of going away forever.    Some of these breeds date back for centuries, and they are being lost.

Of course, no matter the heritage, we have to factor in pasture space, time needed, our weather (currently 28 degrees – brr), distance for pick-up and breed temperament into our decisions.   Oberhasli, our current goats, are now on the “Recovering” list.    Our chickens are a mix of “Recovering”, “Rare” and “Watch” breeds.  The Bourbon Red turkeys we’ve been raising are “Threatened/Rare”.

I am thinking of switching to Chocolate turkeys next year which are “Critical” and supposedly a very gentle breed which is important around here.  Plus, I love chocolate, which I can’t eat anymore, so it’ll give me some around the house.  I know.  That doesn’t fit in with my “breed choosing criteria”, but hey I never said I was logical all the time.

I have been looking into a goat breed with higher butterfat content for yogurt and cheese.   I have a possible Nigerian on stand-by for Spring, because they have a high content.  But looking at sites for goats I came across San Clemente.  Their butterfat is comparable or higher to Nigerians.   They are on the “Critical” list.  Reading about them reveals an interesting history.

I’ve also been rethinking the move to Texas idea.  We definitely want to go south, but we’re not sure where.  For whatever reason, I keep leaning towards Tennessee.  I couldn’t tell you why.  It doesn’t make sense to me since the grands are in Texas, and I want to be near them.  However, when I look for land I usually find myself browsing through the TN listings, though a few around our area have caught my attention – except I hate the cold.  We’ll see where I’m led to.  Right now, we are running out of room both in and out of the house.

2014 could be an interesting year.   What have you planned for 2014?

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