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Posts Tagged ‘meat’

First, the bad news.  As we feared, we are going to have to raise prices on eggs, chickens and rabbits.  Since meat prices on goats and beef have not been set yet, there is nothing to announce in that regard.

Beginning May 1, eggs will be $3.50 a dozen.  Chickens and rabbits will be $15 each.  Those who pre ordered chickens and rabbits at $12 will receive your promised price and will only be charged the $12.  Similarly, pastured turkeys will go from $55 to $75.  We will honor the pre order price of $55.

It is difficult for us to do this, because keeping prices as low as possible is a part of our whole business plan.  The cost of feed and fuel has simply forced us into this.  In the case of the turkeys, we grossly underestimated what it would take to get a turkey to market at 6 mos.  Yikes.

Now for the good news.  Also, beginning May 1, we are launching an Edible Suburb Referral Program, giving you a chance to earn rewards for promoting East of Eden products.

Here’s how it works:  Beginning May 1, if you refer a customer (someone who has never purchased from us before), we will give  you a 10% commission on everything that person buys for the first 6 months they are a customer.  For example, you refer someone who buys 2 dozen eggs in May, that’s 70 cents back to you.  If they, then buy 4 dozen eggs, 1 rabbit and 2 chickens in June, you would earn $5.90.  That’s like getting a dozen and a half of your eggs FREE.

If you do the math, you’ll see that if you refer three or 5 people and they become customers, you can knock a big chunk off your produce bill for a while.  We will pay out monthly.  Eg.  we’ll pay the second week of June for what is earned in May.

We consider you more than customers and friends, you are our partners and we want to reward you for helping us spread the word.  Sometime in May, we will have business cards available.  When you buy from us, we’ll give you a few cards.  Just write your name on the back of it and when your referral buys online or on the farm, we’ll give you the credit.  The credits will be good on garden produce too, when they (if they) are available later in the summer.

If you have any questions, just let us know.

One more thing; as mentioned yesterday, you can now write to us at sam@eastofedenfarms.com and brittan@eastofedenfarms.com.  The hyphens are no longer necessary.

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It’s time for a little update.  First, in the garden front, our tomato and pepper seedlings are growing splendidly.  We are expecting some excellent peppers this year.  We are increasing the number of Ghost Pepper plants and expect to be North Georgia’s First Choice for fresh Jolokia Peppers.

For the Jalapeno Pepper lovers out there, we are featuring two varieties this year, Gigante and Biker Billy.  Gigante Jalapenos are large, zippy and perfect for poppers, stuffing, roasting or pickling.  Biker Billies are my favorite Jalapeno variety.  They have all the flavor of a traditional Jalapeno with the heat of a Habanero.  These little fireballs will kick your nachos clear into outer space.  We can hardly wait for summer.

We may have a few bell peppers to offer, but we keep so many of those, that we don’t know yet how many we’ll have to spare.  As for tomatoes, keep your eyes open.  If the weather is kind to us, we will have a couple varieties of juicy slicing toms to offer after mid July.

We’re already getting excited about canning up green beans, zucchini and squash.  I think B is planning to make pickles this year, too.

On the meat front, we have a couple spaces left for reserving turkeys, but time is running out.  Turkeys are $55 including the $10 deposit with the rest payable at processing time (First Saturday in November).  Chickens will be available June 18.  You can still pre order chickens as well.  Reservations are the best way to guarantee your order.

Requests are starting to come in for rabbit, both as meat and as pets.  We will have a few ready to go the first weekend in March.  They are $12 each.  You can order online.  Just let us know whether you want them live or if you want your rabbit processed for you.

Finally…. the egg report.  Demand still outstrips supply by a huge margin.  Please be patient.  Our girls provided us 11 dozen eggs last week.  We had requests for about 15 dozen.   We are overwhelmed with the response to our eggs.  We are so happy that you are enjoying them as much as we are.  We will continue to supply on an ‘as available’ basis through the summer.  By September or October we expect to be able to handle demand comfortably.

I guess that’s about it for this weeks commercial break.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled surfing.

 

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The calendar still says January, but it’s time to get ready for the spring garden and place our first order for chicks.  This year, we’re giving all our customers a chance to pre order.  By pre ordering you’ll help us ensure that we order the right amount of birds and other feeder animals.

If you pre order 10 chickens or more, we will need a 10% deposit, but for every 10 you order we will give you an 11th bird at no extra charge.  $20 chickens pre ordered = 22 birds on processing day, etc.

Turkeys require a $10 deposit per bird.  That covers the cost of purchasing the poult.  They are expensive to buy and expensive to raise, but we believe they are worth it.  We will be raising Heritage Bourbon Reds and Narragansett turkeys.  You’ll taste the difference.

Goat and lamb are what we call, ‘share prices’.  We are selling part ownership in the animal.  You can purchase a whole lamb or goat, 50% of one or 20% of one.  When the animal is processed at 4 to 6 months of age, you will receive your portion of the meat.  If you buy a whole animal, you can take it anytime you want (after weaning).  Pre ordering a lamb or goat requires 50% deposit on your share.  Please email or call us regarding availability of goats and sheep.

Later this year we may have a limited amount of tilapia.  Based on the huge volume of hits we’ve received on our recent article about Tilapia, we have reason to believe natural, hormone and corn free Tilapia will be popular.  But we intend to go slowly at first to learn to do this right.

Please look over the pre order form.  If you would like a .pdf of it, drop us a note and let us know.  Send us an email to pre order anything on the list.  The sooner you get it back to us, the better.  We will also have most of the options on the store page for deposits and pre pay.  All pre orders need to be in by Feb 14.

Vegetable plants will be ready for pick up after April 7.  Please send us any questions you have.  These are exciting times.

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  1. Featherman Chicken Plucker

    Chicken preparation requires a lot of equipment and significant set up.  Since we were starting from scratch, we pretty much had to acquire everything.  We bought a scalder, chicken plucker, catch net and a shade pavilion to work under.  Brittan designed and built a processing table, complete with counter top and sink.  It looks great and works like a charm.  There is a working station on either side of the sink, so two processors can work at once.  My one criticism of it, is that the table weighs a ton, much like the chicken plucker.  But the table is sound as a pound and should last for years.  I’m sure B will put some photos up on Facebook.  Since we live about 5 miles from the farm and store everything here at the house, we had to load and unload everything.

  2. It is impossible to have too many knives, or to have them too sharp.  I spent time on Friday sharpening knives, but they still dulled during the processing day.  If you’ll pardon the pun, I need to hone that skill.  One of the ways we show respect to the chickens is by making sure the kill is clean and the butchering is smooth.
  3. There is gore involved.  Processing chickens is not for the squeamish or sensitive.  It is a real world experience.  Life and death is graphically portrayed.  There is a great deal of blood and stench from intestines, heads and feet.  We also found that the actual killing of the birds is not for everyone.  In the end, I killed all but two of the birds.  There is no pride in being the executioner; it is fairly awe inspiring responsibility.  There is no shame in the inability or unwillingness to be the wielder of the killing blade.
  4. Many hands make light work.   There were 6 of us involved in the process.  Two of us did the catching and dispatching, two handled the scalding and plucking and two did the butchering and washing.  All of us took turns keeping the work site clean.  Once we got into a rhythm, the work became more like a dance.  We had a great time talking and sharing together.
  5. There were some surprising discoveries that made us happy we chose pasturing our chickens.  The main one was seeing all the grass and other ‘natural ingredients’ inside the chickens.  These birds lived like chickens are supposed to live, enjoying the sun, fresh grass and all the critters that live in the grass and on the soil.  Chickens are omnivores.  It was satisfying to know that our birds dined magnificently during their sojourn with us.
  6. It is mission critical to have the water temperature right for a good scald.  We got impatient to get started and scalded the first birds before

    Scalder

    the water temperature was high enough.  The result was incomplete plucking.  That meant some hand plucking and even skinning of birds.  At one point the water temp went above 160 and that caused the skin to tear during the plucking process.  But in a range between 140 and 155, the plucking was a dream.

  7. The Featherman Chicken Plucker rocks.  It wasn’t cheap, but it was worth every penny.  We processed four birds at a time.  The machine cleaned the birds completely in 30 to 40 seconds.  It is a wonderful tool.

The day was hard work.  By the time B and I loaded everything up and got home, the day was truly done.  We were tired and sore, but our freezer, and those of several friends and customers are fuller than before.  We are providing a natural, healthy, environmentally friendly and humanely produced food for our table and the tables of other, like minded people.  The planet, the chickens, the American consumer, and our Great God are all respected along the way.  I am content.

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If we were only dealing with nutritional, environmental and sustainability issues, Americans would be lining up to buy rabbit meat.  After all, Rabbit is lower in calories (795 per pound) than chicken (810), turkey (1190), lamb (1420), beef (1440) or pork (2050).  It is also lower in cholesterol. A study by the Department of Food Science, University of Bologna, Italy, published in the fall of 2009 said, “Rabbit meat is often recommended by nutritionists over other meats because it fits well with the current consumer demand for a low-fat meat with a high degree of fatty acid unsaturation and low sodium and cholesterol levels.”

Rabbits are easy to raise, and reproduce rapidly.  Statistically, 6 lbs of rabbit meat can be produced for the cost of 1 lb of beef and on a fraction of the land.  Even a large scale rabbitry does not create the environmental challenges of a traditional feed lot.  The by-product of any rabbit operation (manure), is environmentally beneficial, as it is a 100% ‘organic’ fertilizer and does not need to be composted first like most manures (But it composts very well, too.)

Rabbit tastes great.  Like chicken and turkey, it is a mixture of both dark and white meat.  The dark meat, however, is milder than its avian counterparts.  As with other pastured (grass fed) meats, the cooking process is different than grain fed meat.  Rabbit is a true slow food and comes out best if cooked at lower temperatures for longer periods of time.  It is perfect for the crock pot or slow roasting.  I like to marinade rabbit overnight in salt water, put it on the smoker for about 45 minutes to an hour, then toss it in the crock pot with some bbq sauce. The result is some of the best pulled bbq you will ever eat.  Add some coleslaw and a bun and you are will find yourself in Q heaven.

I began this article with “If” for a reason.  Sadly, many omnivores (vegetarians and vegans have their own reasons, and I won’t take time to debate those) miss out on the rabbit experience because of what I call, “the cute factor.”   If I had a nickel for every time someone said, “How could you eat a bunny?  They’re so CUTE”, I’d never have to work again.

I agree that rabbits are cute, at least young ones.  But so are sheep and cows.  Even piglets are cute as buttons.  But for some reason, the smell of frying bacon trumps cute.  With rabbits, it’s a whole different story.  People who wouldn’t bat an eye at a juicy hamburger or a plate full of buffalo wings will practically break down in tears at the thought of eating a rabbit.

No one ever says squash is too pretty to eat and yet I don’t know of any flower in any garden that is more spectacular that a squash plant in full bloom.  From my seat, food is food, whether animal, vegetable or mineral.

There is no argument against ‘cute’.   It can’t be defeated in a debate.  Logic doesn’t matter.  So I won’t even try.  But if you are looking for tasty, nutritious, sustainable, cost effective, natural meat, please consider rabbit.  The rest of the world has figured it out.  America is lagging.  I hate lagging.

For readers in driving distance of Acworth, GA who already enjoy rabbit, or who are willing to try it, stay tuned.  East of Eden Farms will begin supplying rabbit meat this fall.  It will be priced the same as our pastured chickens.

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Warning: This post contains information which may be unsettling for some.  It could cause outright apoplexy for PETA types and many vegans.  Read on at your own risk.

Saturday was our first rabbit processing day.  We only had two to process, because we have decided to keep an extra female.  Our little herd consists of two bucks and three does.  This is just the right size for our small operation.

I have been a hunter pretty much all my life.  I have ‘dressed’ rabbits before, along with turkeys, squirrels, grouse, deer and even a possum once (long story from long ago), not to mention many hundreds of fish.  But I felt a certain uneasiness as the time approached.  This may sound odd, but while I have no qualms about killing animals for food, I am terribly concerned about hurting them.  I am inexperienced at taking life with my bare hands and I was afraid of botching the act and causing undue pain and stress on the animals.  In the end, my preparation (I had a detailed plan of action and had mentally rehearsed multiple times) and prayers paid off and the killing went off without incident.

I’m glad there were only two to process, because I was mentally drained before I ever got started.  If I’d had 6 or 8 to do, I don’t know how well I’d have held up.  Future processing days will be faced with much less apprehension, but never with giddiness.

As I was cleaning the rabbits, I took note of some things that pleased me.  First, the bunnies were of good weight.  One of them had a couple small bits of fat, but nothing to speak of, yet their bellies were full.  That means we fed them right.   Their stomachs contained some pellets, grass and hay, which spoke of a certain rabbit contentment.  They had been treated well.  I gave a quick thank you prayer to God and thanked the rabbits for their sacrifice as well.

If I have developed a philosophy in my rookie season of animal husbandry it is this:  a. Respect  your livestock.  They are living beings, designed by the Creator with valuable roles in creation and in the food chain.  b. Treat them well and feed them right. c. When it comes time to process them, make sure your grip is firm, your blow is true, your blade is sharp and your heart is pure.

B and I are omnivores.  Meat is a part of our diet.  An important and enjoyable part, I might add.  But over the last six months or so, it’s role has morphed.  We respect our food in a different way.  These days we actually consider how the animal was raised and how it lived out its short existence.  We were tasked by God to manage his creation and we want to do that well.

Also, because ‘pastured’ meat is so expensive and our own flocks and herds are not yet productive, meat is more of a side dish than the main course.  We eat less of it and appreciate it more.

For those who are interested, one of the rabbits processed yesterday will become slow smoked barbecue and the other one will become a nice spicy curry.  Yum.

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What would you get if Big Government, Big Agra, Big Business and Big Pharmaceuticals had a baby?  The American Food System!  No, it’s not funny.  It wasn’t intended to be.

Americans go to the supermarket, fill our carts, go home and eat what we assume is safe and healthy, if somewhat overloaded with calories.  We don’t think about it.  We just do it.  Our parents did it.  Heck, I did it for most of my adult life.  Now that I’m paying attention, I’m mortified at what we’re ingesting, and what we’re feeding to those we love.

This rant should really be on my other blog, Paradigm Shift, because this space is supposed to be more of a happy place, sharing what’s going on here in the burb.  But since the information is relevant to why we do what we do here at East of Eden, I decided to post it here.

What kind of food system would allow the animals in it’s food chain to be knowingly fed and injected with chemicals banned even by the Chinese?  Ours would.  I’ve included the article here.  Keep in mind as you read it, that whatever we eat has eaten, we eat, too.  In English that means we get the pesticides and chemicals doused on our vegetables, we eat the toxins in the lining of canned goods and we get trace doses of the hormones, antibiotics and pathogens in our meat.

Friends, the USDA and FDA do not protect us from much, really.  All the majority of regulations do is keep fresh, local, healthy fare away from the tables of unwary Americans.  I urge you, shop at your local Farmers Market.  Buy your eggs and meat directly from a local farmer whenever possible.  Join a CSA.  Grow your own!  Besides being safer, it tastes better, too.

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