Back to the reason for this blog! I read a book recently that was a biography on Thomas Jefferson, and one of the amazing traits he had was that he documented just about every single day of his life. It got me thinking...So much goes on in a single week on the farm that it is tough to remember all of the cool little moments like this one in the picture above. I would like to post something every week to just keep track of the fun things we do here on the farm so that we can look back on these things and think of all the fun times. It is the start of a new year and a good time to start keeping track of our wonderful time!
How many of you out there wonder why some food is just so wonderful while other food is just bland? That very question has put me on a wild goose chase for some answers. All I end up with is just more questions in the end. It all started with the tilapia we grow. I had loved tilapia for a long time, and we would go buy Parmesan encrusted tiilapia from sams all the time! We ate that stuff like it was going out of style. So when I purchased some baby tilapia to grow on my own, I started a really big snowball effect. A year later when the fish were large enough to eat, I had my Grandmother and her "Friend Bob" come over and show me how to fillet some fish! Up until this point I had never killed anything and to be honest, I was kinda grossed out by the whole process...I grew up in a subdivision where I survived off of pizza rolls through high school and college! It is crazy that this was just 4 years ago...This is why I need to be writing this stuff down...I swear I sometimes forget how crazy life has been in just 4 years. So back to my story! Bob came over and pretty much filleted all of the 15 fish I had ready and I just could not bring myself to take the knife to the fish. My excuse of course was that I didn't want to "ruin" the fillets with my in-experience. In truth I was just a big wuss...for anyone who knows me, I am having a really tough time writing without using any profanity. I am my mother's son, what can I say! We Davis kids are loud, obnoxious, and profane at heart! So for the third time I need to get back to my story. The fillets looked absolutely wonderful. We put one of the fillets in the skillet and pan fried it up that night! I took out the Parmesan Encrusted Tilapia and tossed one in the oven to do a taste test. I bit into the crispy home grown fillet and was amazed at how it tasted nothing like the fishy flavor the store bought kind did. It was not fishy tasting at all, in fact, it had a mild flavor and was very fluffy. The fillet from the store tasted so incredibly fishy that I just couldn't eat it anymore. Thus started my exodus for tasty food. I know there are people out there who care more about the health benefits and humane treatment of animals as there means to changing the way they eat, but I gotta be honest with you people. I really like tasty food. I am the guy who stands up at an AA meeting and says, "My names Josh and I'm addicted to bacon." We won't get into my unhealthy addiction to bacon.
I became more aware of the things I ate. I had never had eggs other than from the grocery store. I thought that only "crazy" people had chickens...who wants to waste their time with that when the grocery store carries all the eggs you could ever want. By the way, I still believe that only crazy people have chickens...we just so happen to have around 300 right now. After my tilapia experience I thought, "what else is there that I am missing out on?" So we bought 6 chicks, and started raising some laying hens. Once these hens got of age to start laying we noticed that we were waking up a lot earlier in the morning to a crowing sound. 2 of those birds turned out to be roosters. I called up Grandma and Bob and said, "What do I do with these roosters!" Within a couple of days, they rolled up with a few sharp knives and a desire to eat some chicken. The first rooster bob killed and processed while I watched in horror. This time I told myself that I needed to take part in this since this is food that I have eaten over the years and I should not feel bad about taking the life of an animal that I intend to eat. Just fyi, this was definitely a traumatic experience for me since I raised the birds from little baby adorable chicks. I did the deed, and from that day on, I told myself that I couldn't bring myself to eat meat...unless I grew it myself. Every once in a while I will accidentally forget that this tasty burger from cleveland-heathe was not grown on my farm. I actually do know where their beef is from so it is all good. The cattle farm is just one town over from ours.
The eggs from those 4 hens were unlike any eggs I have ever had before. I always tell people that if they want to know what they are missing they need to try the eggs. The yolks are just so full of dark rich orange deliciousness. The eggs are more firm and feel as though they are fresh. Store bought eggs are pale and watery and lack any taste.
We now grow a large variety of food. We grow 100% grass fed/finished beef. We grow pastured eggs, chicken, and pork. We also produce goats milk from our wonderful dairy goats! Just a disclaimer...all beef is grass fed to some extent. If a cow does not get some sort of cellulose associated with plant material it will die. The grocery store is just trying to sell you a product using words that don't tell you the complete story...always ask if the cow was 100% grass fed. That means it has NEVER been fattened off of grain. Those little details will determine whether you are paying an inflated price for the exact same thing as the cheaper beef. This sort of misleading terminology is used in all of your food just like the picture above with the organic cage-free eggs you are paying a bunch of money for that clearly is not anything special.
This past weekend we slaughtered 50 chickens from our flock with the help of 3 individuals that wanted to learn more about how to process chickens! They were all very helpful, and we had a really good time chatting with these folks about where they are from and what they like to do with their time. We had to process these birds as soon as possible, and there are more we need to remove from the flock. They are all males! If one thing is for sure, you only ever need 1 male of each breed on the farm. Males are aggressive and can hurt each other or even the girls. Roosters are a great example. They eat a lot of food and they pick on all the other chickens. We slaughtered all of the alpha roosters on Saturday and even now I am starting to see younger roosters start to exhibit signs of asserting dominance. These boys are cruel to each other and the girls. I have always referred to them as the "Rapist-Roosters." I don't think I need to go into detail about why I call them that. There is no tastier chicken than one that is processed and put immediately into the smoker. When you are done processing all the other birds it is time to eat!
I really have no problem eating the male animals on our farm. I see the way they act and take what they want all the time. Our billy goat is another example of a creepy obnoxious male. He runs around with his tongue out fluttering it all over the place making strange noises. He is so interested in our LaMancha doe "Monette." Monette is unfortunately not all that interested in Bubba (the billy goat). Monette is the queen goat. She head butts all the other goats and makes sure everyone knows that she is in charge. When Bubba comes running up tongue blazing in the wind she wants nothing of it! Until she goes into heat...that's when things get a little weird. More like a lot weird. Monette is a bit rough with poor Bubba. He is in fact only 60 pounds while Monette is a whopping 130 pounds. Bubba is a Nigerian Dwarf with excellent milk bloodlines. We are working on creating mini-LaManchas, but not if Monette has anything to say about this! It is hilarious to see little Bubba run up and try to mount her. He is just so little! Monette is a little rough...she gives Bubba a swift kick and knocks his back feet out from under him. Bubba flips over on his back and looks pretty embarrassed. So I devised a plan to keep Monette from beating up poor Bubba while she is in heat. We have a short time frame here people! She comes into heat around every 18-20 days. So I built a head gate to keep Monette from head butting him. Adding to this funny little experiment was the step stool I gave little Bubba so that he could "reach" Monette. Here is a picture:
Aside from all the crazy goat projects, things are moving right along whether we like it or not. It is super cold out, and we are constantly battling with running water out to all the animals. I'll show in a future post how we make sure our animals are taken care of during these harsh Midwest winters. It is important to me that everyone sees and knows what is going on and how we are raising the animals. I look forward to writing more. I am used to only writing music, which is a lot more forgiving than having to form actual intelligent sentences. Engineers are known for having poor writing/social skills, so lets see If I can break that stereotype!