Chicks, stew hens, bacon. Huzzah!

just chicks

Coming soon: baby chicks

As discussed back in our October update, we were contemplating what to do with our laying hen flock. Our official decision is to keep the size of the flock the same for next season. This means that we’ll retire the oldest half of the birds and get day-old chicks to replace them. We were a teensy bit late on placing an order for chicks and it turns out, most hatcheries don’t hatch during the shortest days of winter. Oopsies! It would have been nice to have chicks on the ground by late November, but it’ll be the first week of January instead. New year, new birds?

Prepping for chicks involves pulling our “brooder” out, shaking it off (proverbially, not literally, since it’s a 30’ RV), and getting ready to keep chicks warm during winter. These birds will grow up and start laying eggs around late June, just in time to be late for all our summer markets, lol.

just stewhens that are alive rooster

On a related note: coming soon: stew hens

The flip side of the getting-new-chicks coin is culling-old-birds. Assuming things go as planned (famous last words!), stew hen harvest will happen the day after we get new chicks, so, next Saturday Jan 7th.This timing is a complete coincidence, mostly we are also behind schedule on culling the old flock.

Some of you may have had our stew hens from the past few years, but this group that’s going to harvest is notably younger than any others we’ve done. Let’s taco ‘bout why.

Ideally, we’d like our laying hens to be like our perimeter farm fence — to last forever. In reality, they produce lots of eggs their first year and less each year after. Industrial farming layers are only kept for one laying season. In the past, we’ve tried to hard to push our flocks and keep them longer than anyone else recommends (over four seasons at one point!), but it’s never been successful. This year, we’re harvesting after two laying seasons (2.5 years of age) for the first time. We’re hoping for more consistent laying for us and slightly less tough, but still wildly flavorful, stew hens for you.

We only sell stew hens whole (by that we mean not parted out) and they’re typically 3 – 4 lbs. Pre-order for fresh or frozen pickup. Fresh pickup is on-farm only, either Sunday January 8th or Tuesday January 10th. Respond to this email to pre-order stew hens.

market dee guy

Where to get bacon!

As another email from us declared, we have bacon (and other pork) back in stock now! Our freezers are full, so if yours are empty, let’s put them together and see what happens.

As of right now we have maple breakfast sausage, kielbasa sausage, liverwurst, bacon, Canadian bacon, bacon ends, cottage bacon, ground pork, country-style ribs, babyback ribs, spareribs, tenderloins, chops (thick cut), fresh belly slabs (now up to 6 lbs!), fresh jowl, shoulder roasts, smoked hocks, feet, and liver.

Chorizo, hot Italian sausage, kabob meat, smoked pork chops (brand-new item!), and jowl bacon will be back in stock soon, but we don’t have them yet.

Options of how to get bacon (and other stuff) from our freezer to yours:

On-farm store hours every Tuesday noon – 2pm and every Sunday 2 – 4pm (except for Sunday January 1st, we are closed)

Coventry Winters Farmers Market, Sunday January 8th and 22nd from 10am to 12:30pm

Pre-order-only at Saw Dust Coffee in Sturbridge, MA is Saturday January 14th from 10am to 2pm. Place pre-orders by filling out this form

tractor tire on small car trailer

That blog post we wrote got published

People trying to change the world need allies and for us, FACT (Food Animal Concerns Trust) has been a great ally. FACT “believe[s] that all food-producing animals should be raised in a humane and healthy manner, and that everyone should have access to safe and humanely produced food.” We’ve been the recipient of three grants from FACT and they’ve been instrumental in us getting our Animal Welfare Approved certifications. So when they asked us to write a blog post for their website, we were happy to comply!

They asked us to write about a ‘normal’ day of humane livestock farming in fall. But, farming is rarely normal, so we just wrote about a certain day and the fiasco that ensued. Check it out if you’re interested.

Also, FACT has a great list of resources for people interested in the benefits of humane farming. My personal favorite is the handouts detailing the nutritional benefits of pasture-raised meat and eggs vs conventional/industrial/CAFO. Here’s the pork one.

meat box meatmeat box

Putting meat into boxes

Between us, we have a construction background and a science background. We don’t really know what we’re doing when it comes to marketing, but we like to get out there and try. Also, we take marketing-for-farmers training classes. One of the classes suggested we try putting meat into boxes. Now, keep in mind, we had this idea before (way back in 2018, in fact). So, putting meat in boxes is not new. The new part is we’re assembling mini-boxes farmers-choice.

To start with, we assembled a bunch of mini-sampler boxes with a selection of pork (bacon, Canadian bacon, kielbasa, maple breakfast, ground, chops, bacon broth) so all you have to decide is whether that’s the box you want. This week’s box is $100 and some are still available. Once these sell out, we’ll assemble a new batch with different items and at a different price point.

When you dream of your ideal meat box, what’s in it? How much does it cost? Let us know, and maybe your dream-meat-box will be next.

We’ll post on social media when we put together new boxes.

dog on woodchip pile

New Country Organics animal feed: hope for hemp soon

Remember that long-ago time, when hemp bedding was available and we sold it? It was awesome.

We’re hoping to do that again soon. We have a new source of hemp bedding and they have very seriously promised us several times that it will be available to us very, really quite, soon. Hopefully we’ll have it before we get our chicks on January 6th. 🙂

Last Updated on 2023-02-18

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