Organic and Free-Range Chicken Myths

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Do you really know what you’re getting when you buy the beautifully packaged vegetarian fed, organic, antibiotic free, and free-range chicken?

This week I would like to do a little myth-busting. If you look at the description on the packages you buy at the grocery store, you would think that your hard-earned dollars are buying the best, and most nutritious food for you and your family. However, let’s look at the description with a discerning eye.

*Organic, Vegetarian Fed, Antibiotic Free, Free Range Chicken*

 

  1. Organic: Did you know that most if not all that organic chicken you buy at the grocery store is from a factory confinement farm? Organic doesn’t mean rolling green pastures or even access to it. It simply means that eat organic feed. They are still over crowded breathing in the fecal dust that hovers right at chicken height. Don’t fall for the clever marketing you see online or on TV. Organic Chicken most of the time is no better than that other slimy mush that big companies call chicken.
  2. Vegetarian Fed: This is my absolute favorite myth.  Read my words very carefully. Chickens are not vegetarian. I repeat, Chickens are not vegetarian.  Our Pasture raised chickens eat anything and everything.  If there is a bug it’s eaten if it is a mouse its gone. I watch the chickens chase it down with the same ferocity as the T-Rex scene from Jurassic Park.  In fact, chickens are direct descendants of the T-Rex and you don’t read about him eating his vegetables. Yes, chickens eat seed, and grasses, and what not. However, chickens cannot digest grass anymore then you and I can. Chickens are omnivores through and through. Here on our farm, we hand make our chicken feed. No, we do not include animal by products in our feed. But we sure hope our chickens are out there hunting and chasing bugs. Remember a happy chicken is a tasty chicken.
  3. Antibiotic Free: We will keep this short and sweet. In their lifetime, chickens sold at most grocery stores can have antibiotics, so long as within three days of processing the chicken has been off the antibiotics. So, when the label says antibiotic free.  Just remember, pasture raised operations do not use antibiotics at all, ever, nada, zilch.
  4. Free Range: This statement has confused and misled just about every customer out there. According to the National Chicken Council (NCC). There’s no precise federal government definition of “free range,” so the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approves these label claims on a case-by-case basis. USDA generally permits the term to be used if chickens have access to the outdoors for at least some part of the day, whether the chickens choose to go outside or not. In practice, most chickens stay close to water and feed, which is usually located within the chicken house. Chicken labeled as “organic” must also be “free-range,” but not all “free-range” chicken is also “organic.” Less than 1% of chickens nationwide are raised as “free range,” according to the National Chicken Council (NCC).  Who knew?

 

I encourage you to do your own research. Food is the most important thing that you can do for your body.  Knowing how to make informed food choices not only prolong your life and improve your overall health.  But it also just tastes better. Remember if you have any questions or just want to say ‘hi’, give us a call at the farm (828) 702-9929 or drop us a line at roosterheadplantation@gmail.com . We will get back with you as soon as the chickens are moved and the pigs are happy.

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Commitment

When you shop for meat at the supermarket, its easy to look at the pieces of plastic-wrapped chicken breast and not realize where it came from.  We did it for years, never connecting the mean in the store to the living, breathing animal it came from.

That’s what we are trying to change, and why we’re so passionate about sharing our pasture raised meats with you directly. If you’ve never purchased from a small farm before, there’s three things that you should know.

Whole Animals

Simply put, a chicken is more than a boneless skinless breast, and a pig is more than bacon. We take so much time and care to raise the animals right, we feel a personal responsibility to make use of the entire animal. That means opting for less popular cuts like drumsticks, and ground meats, using bones and feet for bone broths, and getting adventurous with offal.

It also means that we won’t ramp up production to meet the high demand for chicken breast and bacon, unless we know we can use all the accompanying off cuts, organs and bones.

Grown Not Made

When some companies run out of product, the simply make or order more. When we run out of chicken breast or whole chicken, you may see that dreaded “Sold Out” sign for time to time and that’s okay. It simply means we’re taking our time to grow more and do it the right way.

Small Family Farm

Although we’ve grown in popularity over the past year, we are still a small team and family still comes first. That means every member of the Rooster Head team is also out in the field tending to the animals or the farm. (So we might not get to answer every phone call.) We are passionate about regenerative agriculture and feeding this same meat to our families. ( Meaning no compromises ever) We are so thrilled to be sharing our pasture raised means with even more families across WNC, and really appreciate your support as we grow.

If you have any questions or just want to say hello, feel free to drop us a line at 828-702-9929. We promise we’ll back to you as soon as the chickens are moved and the pigs are happy.

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Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

New Beginings

I will try to make this short and sweet.  Here at Rooster Head we have gone through some major changes to not only our farm, but also our personal life. You will have to take that as my excuse for not posting in a very very long time.

Anyway… We have moved back to the family farm in Hendersonville NC. We are also no longer working off farm jobs. What that means is that the farm is our job now. It’s no longer a hobby or escape from reality. We have decided to take what we have learned so far and turn that into a successful business model in the hopes that, we can provide the highest quality product to the local community.  

We also appreciate all the help we have received along the way. We can not be Rooster Head with out y’alls support. Remember if you need anything at all please don’t hesitate to ask.  Thanks and see y’all round.

When Spring Came and Went

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We have been busy. I live in south east North Carolina, and we don’t always get four seasons. I am not complaining, just saying is all. This can be a blessing, like if you want to go to the beach in April, or wear shorts, or do your yard work in a bathing suit. But it was plumb warm all January, then we had two weeks of mild winter, and now it is Summer…where did Spring go? This weekend, I did my gardening in my swimwear. We had those two weeks of winter, right after the Almanac told us  that it was safe to plant our tomatoes and peppers, which happened to be destroyed. Okay so I am a tad compliany. I replanted radishes this morning because our row was comprised by evil bunnies. I also was able to get my table top herbs planted today… Hopefully soon they will be growing and ready to snip for seasoning or to feed to the chickens.

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Birds wandering the forest floor.

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The butts or heels of the bread loaf and locally grown fresh herbs for the chicks.

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In other news, the pigs have spent two months in there woods paddock. We moved them last week to the second paddock. Two small pigs have clear so much space. Last year the brush in this wooded area (we borrow from a friend) was so thick, our head rooster, Pete, was captured by a coyote, right at the edge and we could not see the coyote until it was in the light of the yard.

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Now, with a little land management and the pigs clearing most of the under brush and eating the stems of the little volunteer trees, it is a forest once again. A true forest with tall pines and a beautiful forest floor.

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The pigs are so happy. And truly that was our goal, happy and healthy fat pigs.

I was able to get my hands on some great collards. I like to make them once every couple of months as a treat for Jared. I have a recipe I would like to share. I use a crock pot for mine.
You will need:
8 cups of water
1 bunch of collards
2 tablespoons of paprika
1 tablespoon of sea salt
3 tablespoons of raw honey
1 ham hock
1/2 white onion

I turn the crock pot on high. I thoroughly wash the collards in cold water in the sink. I add the water to the pot. I salt the water and whisk it together. A ham hock is placed in the center and I drizzle the honey over it. Then I layer the leaves and paprika until full. Add the onion in huge pieces. I leave it to cook for about twelve hours.

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It doesn’t do you be collards justice, this picture. But they are so good.

Well, we are officially a farm with a tax id  and everything. We joined homegrown by hero’s also. We have a plan to grow pasture raised chickens, and sell at the farmer market this summer. We will start raising forest raised pork in the fall. We plan on being a meat farm. We might attempt growing Shiitake mushrooms this fall also.

Homeschool has been going well. We have about fifty more days of school to complete. And since we are year round we should be finishing up in July. We had joined a homeschool group. And the kids have been getting a chance to volunteer and serve through this group.

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The crud came through our house this past two weeks. First Wyatt was so sick. Then Gray got it. Then my husband was sick. I thought it skipped me since it was clear and gone for two or three days. But I was not so lucky. I was so sick for about four days. It was terrible! We are all well now! Thank God!

Here are some more pictures from our two weeks of Spring we did receive.

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Hoping that there is lots more excitement from our little family farm to come. This week we are ordering our Cornish hens (meat birds) and there should be lots more pictures and stories.

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Please put your shoes on and go outside,
Jacqui

Rooster Bust 

   

We had one of those perfect kind of days. We have a sick child, and had a large to-do list to get done. Last night I was reading that kids in other countries go out side even when they are sick. That is exactly what I needed to hear… Today my sick son joined the family out side for a day of great weather and quality time. He has only been sick since Thursday, his fever broke (but his cough is still terrible), he has slept a lot and played a lot inside lately. He had a blast outside, playing with sister, building, and riding his bike. 

  
Even Gracyn had a great day, building, riding her bike, and helping out in the yard! She baby sat the ducks while we worked on “Duck Haven”, she helped de-weed the garden,  and she even tolerated her brother longer than normal while we work on a huge project.

  

Today we made a 120sq ft (12ft X 10ft) chicken tractor for the 75 meat chicken we will soon be getting.

  
   
 
   
   
The final result was so much better than I had invisioned in my head! And all of it was free or repurposed!!! Upcycled!

   
 
The “guard” ducks were in a splendid mood, I guess if you are a domestic bird and you are allowed to free range all day it makes sense.

  
So for a while now we have been looking at pictures of Rex our head rooster. We have been trying to get a logo and web page picture for our family farm and are wanting to use his bust as the picture. I took some shots of him today and he posed and let me get so amazing pictures.

   
 I was able to even squeeze in some time to wash the caddy! 

Our azelea bush is fully bloomed and so clean/lightly sweet smelling.

   
 
The frost we had a few night back really was surprising to us. Since we had already planted our garden and were not expecting it (especially after Easter).

   
   
These are some frost bitten plants that did not survive. Good thing we bought the seed packets and grew them in an indoor green house in Dixie cups. I say good thing because we still have time to do some more before it is too late.
 Our onions and garlic are still going strong! 

   
 
I turned my compost. It was chocked full of worms and a few ants.  

The kids made several “works” of art today. Gray also found a beautiful but dead butterfly.

   
    
 
“Look mom no hands”-Gray 

“me too”-Wyatt

   
    
 
At the end of the day my husband and I sat on the back of his beat up pick up and watched our children ride bikes until sunset! We have the life!

After dinner I made a cake for the kids for all their hard work today.

  
I will leave you with this cute little piggy video of the pigs just playing in the woods! 

  
“That  many if not most people … Who want fresh leafy greens in January buy them at the supermarket after they’ve been bleached and plastic-bagged shipped from California or beyond is not a tribute to modern technology ; it’s an unprecedented abdication of personal responsibility and a ubiquitous bench mark of abnormality.”- Joel Salatin

Good night all and may your days be full,

Jacqui


A heavy meal made me do it

Today I woke up super early. Threw on pants, and took the dogs out for their morning pee. I ushered them back inside and since it was Sunday (and I was trying to get my church flow on) I rush to our bathroom in our bedroom. I needed to try and get my face at least half way presentable for public consumption. After about a thirty (23) minute epic battle (cat fight) with our “precious whittle Bebe” cat Flower over the curling iron cord, I was plugged in and twisting my hair into springy locks of love.  After about ten more minutes I had run out of bb cream/ foundation and decided I would just have to use more eye shadow and be done with it.  I try to get all gussied up because my friend Rebecca (blog shout out– Hey Rebecca!– No, I won’t mention you again in this one blog sorry I called you out, yeah it won’t happen again, missed you at church today, no ma’am I am not guilting you–haha) usually meets us there and we sit together (we’re bff and our kids are bff’s, you know).

 
Any who!The above picture is as good as I can make things look. When you live on a hobby farm there isn’t much hope of fashion and makeup dreams. It turns out there is hope of carhart gloves and rubber boots!

After service let out I scrambled to get the kids from nursery and ran off with them (doughnuts crammed in their faces–left over from church mini breakfast–yes I know it was lunch time–yes their lunch time appetites were ruined) to the car. I have forgotten my friend Raquel’s (blog shout out–Hey Raquel!–no, we can’t talk now I am in the middle of blogging call me tomorrow) birthday so to make up for it I decide to bring some eggs to give to her after church. I brought sixteen because I felt bad about her birthday you know. 

Side note: when you live on a hobby farm you do give people fresh eggs as a gift because why not?!

Turns out a few people over heard me talking about my eggs (the ones the chickens laid for our family) and they want to try some so before Raquel even made it out to the parking lot, I had brought over some of her birthday eggs as sample eggs for others to try at home. Mainly the recipients were amazed that they were washed (yes I wash birthday eggs) and chilled, even after church and being in the car. 

I shamefully brought her, her lack luster simple nine or so eggs to meet her behind her car. So I guess I owe her a few eggs. I had good intentions of giving her all sixteen but things just don’t play out that way sometimes you pass out one too many eggs after church in the parking lot.

When we got home we had a change of clothes and a quick lunch. Just enough time to get our shoes on before our friend Celeste (blog shout out–Hey Celeste!–no, I can’t talk right now –yeah I am still writing) arrived to retrieve her beloved (see Celeste I said beloved so people will think it is cherished) Guinea pig.  

When she drove away it was working time. We pulled weeds and hoed, built fences and dug holes, packed mud around temporary fence post and changed all the animals waterers out! I thought I was super tired, so I got the animals put up and took the kids inside to wash up before dinner.

Gray and Jared had chosen spaghetti night! We had spaghetti, garlic bread, salad, and all the best salad toppings! I was stuffed. I thought I should work off some of the meal. I did dishes and swept then vacuumed. I got out the wipes to wipe down the vacuum after I was done wrapping up the cord, and I saw a tuff of hair sticking out of the bottom. So I emptied the canister and put it back together and the hair was still there! I have loads of indoor pets! So I try and keep it clean around here but sometimes you just have to do the best you can. I took the entire vacuum apart and began to use pliers to pull out about a pound of hair from all the filters combined and tons of strings!  Gross I know but at least if found it when I was washing off the vacuum! Yes I just realized I must be Monica from friends! Yikes! And that brings us to now which happens to be my bed time .

Good night peeps, 

Jacqui

First Family of Tractor Supply

The work in our house is complete. We were able to get it all finished just before we had my brother and his wife come for a visit. All while we were pet sitting the cutest little Guinea pig! 

A little side story: while my brother was down and taking a shower, I invited his wife to go on a small trip into town to the Tractor Supply Co.  I had warned her that we knew everyone there and even name our pets after people that work there. We we walked in they called us the first family of tractor supply! How to know when you shop somewhere too often!

The work in the house went fast and well. Wyatt chose a color called “fresh cut grass” for his room to be painted.

 
He has brand new carpet and underflooring and all new piping in the walls! That is a bright green, though. The insurance company paid for two gallons so since green is also Gray’s favorite color, maybe we can do a wall or two in her room as well!

Spring is finally here. And in this part of the country (the South), that means really summer is here!

   
 
   
    
 
   
 

We finished planting our 3,000 square foot garden. And things, even though it has been two in a half weeks, have already started to grow!

   
 
Our blueberry bushes are stronger already too! Having made it through the frost!

   
    
 
We planted a kidney shaped bed of wild flowers a while ago and nothing happened. We used our Hoss Wheelhoe to till up the bed… Then planted more seeds. We watered and water and nothing! And just last week we went out after a rain and there were millions of little flower buds!

   
 
The nine bitty barred rock birds we had gotten weeks ago from chick days at tractor supply, have moved out of the brooder box and into the transition chicken tractor! Which means we were able to finally able to get baby ducks. They have brought so much joy to our little farm!  

    
 So remember the mud hole we had as a garden drainage? Well, we have turned it in to a swimming hole for the ducklings…more like a swimming pit! They love it and I can’t wait until Duck Haven is complete enough for them to live outside the brooder box!

   
    
    
 
They follow the kids everywhere! When we don’t have the kids around the ducks start to lost call for the kids, pretty much the cutest thing ever!

  
Meanwhile over at Pig Glen, the pigs, Pig and Pig (or the pigs whom shall remain nameless… Even though my daughter named them Bacon and Beans–you were right Aunt Karen, although they will still be food….Tom T. Turkey) have been enjoying the good life! They are loving the forest trees and great humus! 

  
   
The pigs have almost if not more than doubled in weight! We have been selective in their scrap givings, and have been steady filling the trough. Last week I had to call one of our “pork connections” to talk castration again! We “retrieved” three balls (testicles) out of two pigs… Now I am no mathematical genius but I am sure there was supposed to be one more floating around there somewhere! Our “Pork Connection” explained that if we want to not re castrate that we could leave the nut (testicle) until slaughter, seeing as how this pig will only be eight or so months old. And apparently, they have like a balls waiting list (a list of people who are desperate to get their hands on a pig testicle to eat?!) so they will pay us for the nut! Not everyone agrees with our decision not to re castrate, however be that as it may, we are trying to raise our pigs with love, happiness, and respect! If we do things right the pigs only have to have one bad day. We will have organic pork that we know we raised right. 

  
Now at Chicken Hill, they are a tad bit jealous of our hobby farms newer attractions! That did not stop them from posing for the camera though! 

    
    
    
 
We are all happy on the farm, stay alive and go outside!

Jacqui