More planning – this time meat

Now I appreciate not everyone wants to raise, kill and eat their own meat and in this post I am thinking more about next year and planning the meat,  Writing it down here lets my thoughts develop.  So if this isn’t for you, please take this as fair warning J  If you’re all about knowing where your meat comes from, giving animals a happy and healthy life and ensuring their dispatch is a stress free and quick as possible, then do read on.

As we won’t be self-sufficient in pork etc until November 2017 and as I am getting itchy feet I think I will ask Steven to bring home half a pig from work.  For those who don’t know, he is a butcher.  We would need to buy it from the shop of course, but I would be very interested to watch him do his thing and fill up the freezer for the coming months in 2017.  It would also aid me in my quest to be stocked up for the new year on as much as possible from day one. 
We eat a fair amount of meat.  My motto for food (and drink for that matter) is everything in moderation, which is key, but as there’s 4 of us we do get through a fair bit.  Most weekends we have people visiting and I usually feed visitors.  In 2017 I hope to have family round for Sunday dinners as we’ll have the dining room useable by then.  I would like to be able to put a roasting joint on the table every weekend and look forward to that being from our own smallholding.
I have decided (a stake in the ground was required, so I may be way off) that I would like 40 roasting birds and 40 jointing birds.  A lot right?  Well given that we have chicken a lot during the week and some weeks enjoy a roast mid-week, plus some will be given to family and that we host a lot of gatherings during the year where I put a big spread on, I think this is a reasonable amount to aim for.  I could be way off but until I try, I won’t know. 
We’ve made enquiries about getting fertilised eggs from a nearby farm for a large breed of hen. I think they are called Cornish or Ross cobs, either way, they are big.  We’ll pick 40 eggs up early in the New Year when they are available and get them straight in the incubator for dispatch early May.  The next 40 can go in later in the year for dispatching October time when the flies have died off a bit.  That should see us right with the chicken we would like.  I will need another new freezer though.
We also would like to increase the numbers of our laying hens and to ensure a good start to the year, have decided to trial some hens eggs that we’ve not bred from before.  The eggs are going into the incubator this Friday, 18th November to hatch in 21 days, meaning they will be point of lay (22 weeks) on 12th May 2017.  May 2017 is obviously getting on for half way through the year, so you see why we want to get going on that project?  The chicks will live in the warm kitchen or utility in the house and move to the barn in straw bedding when big enough.  They’ll be under heat in the garage in between those periods as winter isn’t the best time to hatch eggs out.
Obviously some of those will be cockerels so they will be our next table birds which will be dispatched as and when they are needed.

Come November 2017 we’ll have our own pork too.  That leaves lamb.  Our current girls will be going in with the tup in 2017 so we hope to have April 2018 lamb.  Yes, I do like to plan.  😉