Thursday, June 26, 2014


Our first home grown meat is finished!  So excited that I took the plunge and just went for it.  It really wasn't hard, but did take time.  It cost more than I thought (isn't that always the case) as they went through about 2 more bags of food than I had figured.  And the butchering wasn't easy, but it also wasn't hard and it did go fast.  Next time I'll have sharper tools and a better set up and it should go even better!  I butchered 4 of the biggest roosters at 8 weeks and 1 day and the other 11 we did at 4 days.

So the breakdown...

Ordered 15 chicks, was sent 16, lost one at 3 the end the remaining 15 made it to the freezer!  Chicks cost $25.

Went through 7 fifty pound bags of food at about $16 each after tax.  So total was $137 in chicks and food.  I did spend money to build the tractor, buys some dishes, some apple cider vinegar, etc, but most of these are reusable items, so only counting in the cost of this batch in figuring $/pound.

We ended up with 14 birds for roasting (or whatever) and one in pieces.  He had a broken wing that was starting to get infected.  To be safe I just took both wings off and kept his legs and breast meat.  Total meat weight was 77 pounds, would have been 2-3 pounds higher had he been left whole. Birds finished right around 5 pounds each with a few roosters going up to 6 and just over.  I also kept the 30 feet for making stock, the livers for making dog food (maybe 2 pounds worth?) and the 7 pounds of odds and ends (heart, gizzard and necks) for adding to stock.  Amazing how much  comes off those birds that were little puff balls 8 weeks ago. 

So total meat was 77 pounds and cost was $137 making our breakdown $1.77/lb.  If we include everything else it comes down significantly, but just comparing to roasters in the store that is where we land.  Of course, our birds have no solution added so that is the real weight and we know how they were raised and that they had a good life.  Many good days and a few bad moments hopefully means some great tasting chicken!

What an adventure!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

2014 Pork Purchase Breakdown

We purchased another hog from Country Pride Meats in Clinton this spring.  They again ran a special in conjunction with their customer appreciation day.  This year the price was $1.85/lb (based on hanging weight) for the basic cuts and smoking of hams and bacon.  The price was $.10/lb higher than last year and this year there was an additional charge if you wanted any sausage or smoking of hocks and such.  We just had them do the basic and left our ground pork plain.  This will mean I get to make our sausage exactly how I want it!

The break down this year:

Ham (have these cut in half) 4 packs, 20lbs
Ham Steaks                         4 packs, 8 lbs
Bacon                                 12 packs, 12 lbs
                                            3 packs, 4 lbs
Pork Steaks                        14 packs, 12.5 lbs  (next year these should be packed 2 to a pack)
Pork Chops                         17 packs, 19.5 lbs
Loin Roasts                            2 packs, 9 lbs (were supposed to be 3 lbs each, but not a big deal)
Shoulder Roasts                     4 packs, 13 lbs
Ground Pork                         21 packs, 21 lbs
Jowls                                      2 packs, 4.5 lbs
Hocks                                     4 packs, 10 lbs
Country Ribs                           1 pack, 4 lbs
Spare Ribs                              2 packs, 6 lbs
Liver                                       3 packs, 3 lbs

I didn't ask for the fat as we have lots of lard and even a sack of fat to render in the freezer (from some friends.)  The pork liver is something we've never tried, but I figure we'll feed it to the dogs if nothing else. 

146.5 lbs of take home meat, 191 lbs hanging weight, which means we had a conversion of 76.7% this year.  That is fantastic!  I'm not sure if I was generous with weights or if there was just a great conversion on this big, but we are happy with it.  Even with the slight price increase we actually came in with a better price based on take home meat.  It turned out to be $2.41/lb, which I think is pretty amazing for great pork that supported a local farmer, a local butcher and means we have a year's worth of pork.  With the things I've heard about the virus wiping out baby pigs I'm sure pork is going to be increasing in a big way this year.  I'm also glad to have our beef for the next year and a half in the freezer too as I've heard crazy increases are coming in the beef world too.  I've got 15 little chicks that are hopefully going to be in the freezer in about 6-7 weeks too.  And if all goes well in raising them I'll raise another group in the fall, which should pride us enough chicken for the year.  We'll be getting hens in less than  week too, hopefully!  So the egg production is coming in house as well....making strides!

Monday, February 3, 2014

2013 canning wrap up and grocery info

A very belated posting of this, but at least I'll have it for comparison purposes in the future!

This year I canned a lot of new recipes to play around and see if there are some new favorites out there that we just haven't tried.  I didn't have access to our big farmer's market, but I have a neighbor with a small stand that I took advantage of throughout the summer.  I also got pears from a family at church, apples from a few local trees, peaches from our Mennonite store, cucumbers from a different neighbor and lots from our own garden.  Here is more or less what was in stock at the close of the fall canning in 2013.

Applesauce 106 quarts and 7 pints
Apple slices   1 quarts and 1 pint
Peaches  20 quarts and 1 pint
Apple Jalapeno jam 11 pints and one 1/2 pint
Apple butter  4 pints
Pears 20 quarts of diced and 2 quarts of juice
Mulberry jam  9 pints, three 1/2 pints, many others given away to visitors
Cranberry Sauce 16 pints (mix of regular and with orange)
Piccadilly  5 pints (to give to Grandpa G at request of Grandma G)
Tomato chutney  6 pints
Green Tomato chutney  10 pints
Green Tomato Relish 3 pints
Brushetta 3 pints and 3 half pints
Tomato soup  9 quarts
Rotel 5 pints
Diced tomatoes 8 pints
Salsa 25+ quarts  (forgot to do a final count after last batch from freezer)
Salsa water (from frozen tomato batch) 4 quarts and 5 pints
Tomato Sauce 4 quarts
Roasted pasta sauce 4 quarts canned and 4 quarts frozen
Fiesta Corn Relish 4 pints
Dilly Beans  19 pints
Zucchini relish 6 pints
Sweet Garlic Dills 7 quarts
Honey Bread and Butter Pickles 4 quarts
Quicker Kosher Pickles 8 quarts and 1 pint
Bread and Butter 3 quarts and 1 pint
Sweet Jalapenos 6 pints
Pickled Jalapenos 1 pint
Beef stock 6 quarts

plus mixed stock, beans, pickles, zucchini relish and diced tomatoes on hand.  Cranberry sauce was from last winter and I did do a bunch of great chicken stock that isn't in these numbers.  We bought a100 pounds of potatoes from the farmer's market, as well as some cabbage that we turned into sauerkraut (5 quarts I believe).  We had 2 bushels of butternut, acorn and spaghetti squash from our old house and the market.  I frozen a LOT of mulberries (at least 5 gallons), 2 containers of black raspberries, a gallon of peaches, 20 pounds of blueberries, and 1/2 gallon of blackberries.  We froze a bunch of broccoli, a little cauliflower, zucchini, roasted beets, at least 12 pints of pumpkin puree and a LOT of green and yellow beans.  Dehydrated some mulberries, lots of apple rings, some blueberries, chives, oregano, mint, and roasted lots of pumpkin and squash seeds.  We picked up our 1/2 grass fed beef this fall and filled more than our small freezer with the huge steer!  Helped butcher chickens for the first time and brought one home to eat!  Found a source for raw milk (local home school family) and bought 5 soup chickens from them as well after their cull day. Get eggs from the son of our local meat market owners (fellow St. Stephens members) or next door neighbors.  Honey from a family near Janesville (who also turn out to be home schoolers) and maple syrup from our old connection up in Lomira.

All in all a good year for food!  A lot of what we eat comes from very close to home these days. Hoping for homegrown eggs and chickens next year a lot more home garden produce!

Our grocery total for 2013 was much, much larger than in the past!  It came in at $4769.23 for the year.  Works out to $397.43/month or $91.71/week for our family of 5.  The big increase was because of the half beef purchase, but that meat will last two years we believe.  And really when broke down by the meal it comes in at $4.37/meal, less than $1/person/meal.  Granted we don't eat every single meal at home as sometimes we are on vacation, but the huge, huge majority are eaten at home.  I pack for Mike in the summer and we take a lot of food with us when we do go away.  So I think it is fair to say we don't come in too much above that overall.  I'm so happy with our food choices (for the most part) and where we are headed and who we support that I am okay with our budget and won't be actively trying to lower it, although I do expect to have lower overall numbers next year because we won't be buying any beef, just our pork and chickens.

Here's to a great 2014!


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Processesing and costs for Half Beef

Today I picked up a half beef for our family.  It is from a different family and was processed by a different locker (Hoeslys in New Glarus, WI) so I'm very interested in seeing how the numbers work out compared to our previous farmer.  This steer was a Piedmontese, which is a breed we've never had before and we've heard good things about their meat.  He was grass fed and finished, which is important to our family.  We hope this will last us 2 years like the last half did, but with the way the kids are growing only time will tell!

We paid the Meyers family $2.70/lb hanging weight which for our half was 405 pounds.  Total=$1093.50
We paid Hoesly's $.49/lb for cut, wrap, feeze and $35 for our part of the kill fee.  Total = $233.45

We asked for everything to be bone in and asked for the 'odd bits' as well. All steaks were 3/4" cut, 2 per pack and roasts were about 2 lbs per pack. Here's how it broke down.

Porterhouse steaks  6 packs, 12.5 pounds
T-bone steaks 3 packs, 5.5 pounds
Sirloin steaks (1/pack)  7 packs, 9 pounds
Rib eye (bone in) 7 packs, 18 pounds
Skirt steaks 1 pack, 1 pound
Flank steak 1 pack, 1 pound
Round steak 16 packs, 27 pounds
Sirloin Tip Roast  4 packs, 10.5 pounds
Rump roasts 2 packs, 9 pounds
Arm roasts  7 packs, 17 pounds
Chuck roasts  18 packs, 32 pounds
Stew meat  8 packs, 9 pounds
Brisket  1 packs, 4 pounds
Soup bones  3 packs, 4 pounds
Short ribs  7 packs, 15 pounds
Hamburger  109 packs, 109 pounds
Heart  1 pack, 2.5 pounds
Liver 4 packs, 4 pounds
Oxtail 1 pack, 1 pound
Tongue 1 pack, 1 pound

Also asked for fat (for rendering into tallow) and long bones (for stock and dogs) which yielded 12 pounds of bones and 7.5 pounds of fat.  These numbers aren't in the take home weight totals.

So the total spent was $1326.95
Total take home weight (without bones and fat) was 292.5 pounds.
This means the conversion of hanging weight (405) to take home weight (292.5) was 72.2% 

I'm not exactly sure was our last half was, but I know it was under 65% and the quarter before that was right at 65%.  We were told this breed carries less fat than most and since we got a pure bred we wondered if we'd have good conversion and we did!  More meat and bones mean more meals and stock!

So the final number we always want to know is what did I pay for this meat per pound...$4.54 is the answer.  That includes all the great steak cuts and also includes the liver (we aren't big fans, but we'll either figure it out or feed it to the dogs).  For the quality of beef we are buying I think it is a good price.  There is no way we'd get the same price on average buying by the piece, even at the grocery store it seems these days and I don't really care to eat the meat sold there.

Thank you Meyers for raising grass fed beef and thank you Hoesly's for processing for small farmers.  We are grateful to them and glad we can afford to buy beef this way. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

2013 Whole Hog Processing Cost Analysis

I thought I had written out our beef and pork breakdowns for the last couple of years, but obviously I haven't as I can't find them on the blog!  I want to have them to compare from year to year so I'm going to type this one up today and add the others when I find the box they are buried in....  Lots of unpacking left to do here!

This pig was processed at Country Pride Meats in Clinton, WI.  The owners also raise the hogs and we ordered during a March special when it was $1.75/pound based on hanging weight and that included the slaughter charge, smoking and all other fees.  We didn't have them do any other special brats or things that would have caused there to be additional fees. 

Hanging weight 166 pounds

Processed meat
4 ham (they were cut in half) 19 pounds
4 ham steak (cut to 1/2") 4 pounds
4 hock 7.5 pounds
2 spare rib 6 pounds
2 country rib 8 pounds
4 shoulder roast 14 pounds
8 pork steak 8 pounds
2 loin roast 8.5 pounds
14 pork chop 12.5 pounds
7 bacon 7 pounds
1 ends 2 pounds
14 breakfast sausage 14 pounds
1 jowl 1 pound
1 fat 5 pounds

Total weight (without fat) 111.5 pounds  67% conversion from hanging weight  $2.61/pound
Total weight (with fat)  116.5 pounds  70% conversion from hanging weight  $2.49/pound

I believe these numbers are similar to what we saw with our pig from Cedar Road Meats.  However I did not have them include liver, which would have added weight and lowered the price/pound.  We also have enjoyed the bacon from Country Pride more than we did from Cedar Road Meat.  We haven't tried the ham yet, but are hopeful we'll like it more too.  The pigs were raised by local (to them) farms, were not pastured, but the feed was raised on the farm and they do no hormones or antibiotics unless treating a sick animal.  Since we now live right by Country Pride we'll be doing pork from them from here on out.  The beef will depend as the grass fed beef farmer that we order from takes the animals to Cedar Road.  We LOVE the meat and it is processed really well, so we may be doing the very, very long trek if we don't find a local grass fed beef farmer.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Give Me a Break, Give Me a Break...

Please God,  can you just give us a break?

I know I shouldn't complain because there are so many people dealing with much bigger issues, but our little family could really use a break.  We've been sick for more than a month now and we really would love to have a break from the coughing, congestion, fevers and other illnesses that have invaded our house.  And our little one could use a break from the teething for a night or two.  He needs to sleep and even giving him pain killers has barely made a dent.  Five big teeth at once is a bit much for our little 15 month old to take, especially when dealing with a cough too.  And really Mommy and Daddy would be healing better if we could catch a good night's sleep too!  We don't really like the hours of 10:30-2:30...we'd prefer to be sleeping.

And as long as I'm whining we could really use a buyer to come along quick so that things could get wrapped up and we could just focus on settling into our house.  And really if you wanted to send an angel to unpack and organize and decorate our house that would be great!  And fix all the things that need to be dealt with in the house.  And make the snow and cloudy days stop so we can get on with spring!  And, And, And...

But just so you don't think I'm a totally self indulgent complainer we want you to know that we love our new church!  And are so grateful for the awesome library system!  And meeting the local butcher who raises the pig we'll be ordering this week and also goes to our awesome church!  And for all the friendly people who've done so much to make us feel welcome!  Really we are grateful and very optimistic that this will be everything we had hoped for in a new home in the country.

We just kind of need a break from the sickness and the dreariness and the snow....we can't wait to for SPRING!

Thanks God,

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Home Turtle Home

We've closed (on Feb 1st) and we've moved (on Feb 5th) and we are so overwhelmed!  Things went fine at closing and we moved a load of things that day.  Then I went back another day and painted two rooms and took a van load of stuff again.  And then we took down our smaller chest freezer and a ton of frozen food the day before the movers came.  We have a HUGE chest freezer as well and were worried about trying to move all the frozen food in both freezers at the same time.  This made it a lot easier.

The 5th was a crazy day. The movers took longer than expected to load the van and we had tired, cranky, cold kids by the time we could hit the road to the new house.  And about an hour before they finished loading the snow fell and fell and fell.  So we were trying to get to the house before them (they were going to stop for lunch) with enough time to clear the driveway for them.  Turns out it would have been good to move the snow blower before moving day!  But we shoveled like crazy while the kids watched a movie in the new house and we got a good chunk done before they got there.  And they didn't even stop for lunch!

Mike and I had done a lot of the running at the old house, bringing boxes and totes and such to the main level in order to save time since we were paying by the 15 minutes. And at the new house we had them just drop everything in the garage (the benefit of having 2 two car garages attached) and only take in the heavy furniture.  Even so it was a long 10 1/2 hour day with the movers and we were so relieved to have them gone!

The day after we moved my parents arrived and spent the next four days helping us.  We moved a million boxes (give or take) into the house and unpacked a bunch of them.  We worked like maniacs up in Milwaukee at the old house.  We painted, cleaned, moved more loads of stuff and fixed things up.  Their help was amazing and got us so much further ahead and yet I know they feel like they didn't get much done.  Sometimes I think they are superhuman!

Of course the day after they left I got sick.  I don't get sick often, but when I do it is big.  Really big.  And although a day of rest, rest and rest seemed to have me back on the right path towards being better last night I woke up feeling like it is starting over. And the kids all have it too,so the little one has had some rough nights.  Fun!  It is a cold with sinus issues, cough, etc and we just are all praying for recovery and for Daddy to stay healthy.

We need one more big work day in Milwaukee and wanted it to be tomorrow, but now we are thinking it will have to wait.  The house needs to get on the market, but our health is more important and we can't get much done when we are all sick.  We keep sending prayers up that the right buyer will find the house once it is on the market.  Someone who will be reasonable to deal with, will appreciate the house and will love the neighbors like we have!

So for now, signing off from Turtle!