McMurray catalog in the mail and was drooling over the available poultry, but knew that with a new baby and a new house I wouldn't have the time to take care of chickens every day.
My mother-in-law also got the catalog, and suggested we get some chickens and split the work. At the time it seemed like the perfect solution! We'd get a good supply of organic chicken at a MUCH better price then we ever could buying it from the grocery store.
Well, the chickens ended up being more work than either of us anticipated. To make it worth it we got around 75 chickens. Once they weren't chicks anymore we started buying 4 bags of 50 lb chicken feed at a time, and just lugging the feed around every few weeks was a hassle.
Part of it was that we ordered half Red Rangers and half 'Turkens' (or naked neck chickens), which we felt would be much easier to humanly kill. Well, the Red Rangers were ready to process at 12 weeks and were nice big birds. The Turkens weren't ready until 20 weeks and were still scrawny little birds at that point. Looking back if we had just ordered the Red Rangers we would have saved ourselves a bunch of extra work AND gotten a lot more chicken. Oopsie!
Well, lesson learned!
We processed the last of the chickens this past Monday and boy, was that a happy day! We were all relieved to be done caring for the chickens and ready to start EATING chicken! :-)
After everything was said and done I ended up with 22 chickens which I broke down to wings, breasts, tenders, thighs and drumsticks for most of them. I froze 3 whole as roasting chickens, but you can't get all the air out of the inside cavity so you have to use them faster than the vacuum-sealed parts. I also did a few whole bone-in breasts with the skins still on - they vacuum-sealed better than a whole bird and I want to try brining and roasting them.
So after caring for chickens for 4 and a half months we have a freezer FULL of chicken and a pantry full of chicken stock, and both will probably last us over a year.
Totally, absolutely worth it! :-D