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!