Years ago, I believe 2009 or so, I read a book TIME TO EAT THE DOG?
This book had a focus on sustainable living and how to lower your carbon footprint, or in this case, pawprint.
The authors surmised that dogs have as large if not larger carbon print than an SUV. They stated that the amount of land needed, productive land, to grow and water the food to feed the animals that would then be turned into dog food, is roughly 2 acres per medium size dog, a year.
That stopped me in my tracks. Really?
I DID THE MATH – as I am a raw feeder, and took into account the ranches I bought from, what I grew on my own property, the upkeep of healthy soil, water, winter months, electricity, all of it, and you know what? It wasn’t that far off, the 2 acres of land part, not the carbon part.
I have been thinking about it for years. Could I grow enough food for my dogs on my own property? Could I grow the vegetation to feed the animals, to feed my dogs, and make it sustainable, healthy, and ethical?
A thought or a challenge? at this point I am not sure.
So last year we bought a small farm. We just had our 1 year anniversary in our new home and we have things up and going, but not in full swing yet. I can see where things are going though and it is super exciting for sure!
1st NIGHT PROCESSING
We intend to keep our hens for egg production and have a natural habitat aviary for them. Hens don’t like stress, so this is in a peaceful place in our garden, branches, sand piles, good food, fruits, veggies, organic feed, black soldier fly larvae, and lots of little boxes and den like spaces to go in, around, over, and under.
The males were in a portable tractor in our apple orchard with a sand box, fresh ground, grass, fruit, veggies, larvae, good food, and a stress free area.
SEXUAL MATURITY Some of my hens turned out to be males, and my males turned out to be gang-bangers, or at least a handful of them.
The crowing calls all day long, well I thought it was normal, a wild bird sanctuary of sorts. Turned out they were threats, calls for territory, and the fighting began. Brutal, bloody, and damaging fights.
So we decided to process early, especially and specifically the super aggressive quail.
We have been watching videos and gathering the correct equipment. And just in case you don’t know, when you kill an animal for food the words – cull, kill, dispatch, harvest, process, and hunt, are all used.
- All animals are treated with love and care and will have access to a good life with good food while they are with us
- All animals will have a safe and as natural as possible habitat
- All animals will be killed for our food and dogs food with a deep level of gratitude
- We will know what we are doing so no animals suffer
We set up in the shade of our orchard last night and began. It wasn’t difficult to find the aggressors, they were also launching at my face.
- latex gloves
- bucket with liner for head, intestines, feathers, skin
- sharp shears and multiple pairs in case of failure
- tub for feet and organs that we want to keep (heart, liver, kidney, lung)
- vinegar for rinsing and washing equipment before, during, and after
- giant lined bowl with ice to cool the carcasses before freezing
- zip lock bags for freezing 4-6 carcasses per bag
- butterfly net to catch the quail and make it as least stressful as possible
The ice bowl was filled with water and we left the hose on to rinse things as needed, and the orchard got a super deep watering last night, so dual purpose.
THE SYSTEM WE CAME UP WITH
I would catch 1-2 quail at a time with my butterfly net
My husband would take one at a time, hold upside down as this calms the quail, and then cut their head off over the bucket.
He would allow the carcass to drain for about a minute, clip the wings off, and then the legs/feet.
Starting at the breast, the skin with feathers peels off like a pelt.
He would then cut up the breast, remove the intestines, place other organs in the tub
I would then take the carcass and rinse and then place in the ice bath for about 10-15 minutes before packaging and taking to the freezer.
Our two quail enclosures are about 300 yards apart, and I was shuttling the males as soon as I could identify the aggressive ones.
I thought we would process about twelve last night, and we ended up putting twenty-five in the freezer.
This took about three hours from start to finish, including set-up and clean-up
THIS MORNING – there is no crowing, no chasing, and everyone is looking pretty peaceful.
I did identify about six or seven more that we will process later this week, and then I will have the three males I want to keep with the hens.
INCUBATOR – I have 115 eggs in my incubator right now and our hatch date starts on the 19th of this month. I will have three or four tractors this go around so I can identify a bit earlier the aggressive ones and not have them around the general population.
IS IT WORTH IT? I have a deep level of gratitude and humility this morning. We will have our own food, besides the fruit, veggies, and berries that we grow, to feed our family, that was raised in our care. We know the food, the water, and the earth that our animals lived on, and the optimal health they have.
It is 100% not cheaper than store bought meat, but that was not our purpose. Our purpose was healthy, optimal, ethical, and lower carbon print. We were part of the entire process from incubating, hatching, raising, and processing. It all feels so very real and right.
I hope this helps, Nancy