With the exception of our laying hens and our steers, which we keep all winter long, we raise our animals seasonally. Part of our seasonal animal system is, I admit, that by the end of fall Andrew and I are wiped. We want to sit down and sleep in, not break through ice on frozen mornings to carry water to extra livestock. But another reason why we raise our pigs, chickens, and turkeys seasonally is because we raise them outside. Pigs are hearty, and can take the cold, but a herd of pigs on frozen ground isn’t doing pretty things to a pasture, nor, conversely, are the pigs getting much from their grazing. Chickens and turkeys? It would be crazy to raise them outside in the winter–even if they survived, they’d expend most of their calories keeping warm, and it would take twice as much food to bring them to a mature weight. We have friends who tried this. It was not a good idea.
Our business, however, supplies customers year round, and for us to have a consistent supply of meat, we stockpile. Most years, we match supply and demand fairly well, and we run out of last year’s chickens just as the first chicks are going out to pasture. I suffer through a few weeks of grumpily complaining about how boring it is to eat beef and pork (Andrew is an amazingly patient man) and then we are back in chicken. Rinse, repeat. But last year we raised a few too many birds, and now we are sitting on 200 chickens, the last of the season, which we suddenly find ourselves unable to sell. Almost half of our annual chicken crop of 6000 birds (!) goes to a friend of ours, who offers our chicken as a CSA add-on to her veggies. But her customers are seeing that October date stamp and calling for fresher birds. So what to do?
Well, readers, this one’s for you–anyone who purchases two or more of our Halloween special chickens can buy them at our wholesale price–$3.65/lb. According to the USDA, properly stored poultry is 100% delicious and safe for at least a year in the freezer. You’ve got four months–how many chickens can you eat? Much as I love our chicken, I can’t do this on my own.
(If you want in on this chicken deal, just stop by farmstand on a Saturday between 9 and 11:30 and ask for the “Halloween special,” or email us and ask us to bring your order to market.)