Backyard Chickens vs Store Bought Eggs

I see a lot of questions out there from people wondering if they should get backyard chickens or just keep buying eggs at the store.

The answer… get the chickens!!

You don’t need more than like 3, a chicken coop can consist of a dog kennel with roosting bars, they don’t eat that much feed during the summer, and they are so much fun!!

A family of 4 can eat about 6 eggs a day. Guess how many eggs a chicken will lay a day?? 1 to 2. And lets face it, you aren’t going to have eggs every single day for breakfast. So, 3 chickens that lay 1.5 eggs a day will give you 4.5 eggs per day. That is 31.5 eggs per week.

Now, take into account the fact that these are averages and not every chicken lays exactly 1.5 eggs per day so if we round down, we are still looking at about 2 dozen eggs per week.

Next is their home. You don’t need that fancy chicken coop Rural King sells. Although, yes, the picture above is our coop, my husband went all out for our Old Style Saloon Chicken Coop. But, its not necessary!

One chicken needs about 3 square feet of moving around room inside a coop, and about 8 square feet outside a coop. You can buy a 10 foot by 10 foot dog kennel run with a roof on it for about $150 – $200, depending on where you are looking. Then, find some handy carpenter, yeah we all have one, and ask them to build a simple shelter inside the kennel run. All you need is 4 walls, a place to out a feeder and waterer, a roosting bar (literally a 2×2 stick of wood is great!), and a few nesting boxes. This shouldn’t cost you more than a $150, depending on where you are.

They need to eat something. We use a simple laying hen pellet sold at Rural King. Each bag is 50 pounds and costs about $10. Chickens are little animals so they don’t eat much. But you want them to have free access to food at all times so they can make these delicious little butt nuggets for you.

The best part is that you can let chicken roam the yard during the summer!! Yeah… you may find some little surprises in your yard, but its free fertilizer. And you shouldn’t be afraid of a little poo anyway, everyone poops! By letting the chickens roam the yard in the summer they are eating more grass and bugs than they have access to inside their run so they eat less of the feed your buying. Also, they don’t over fertilize their run, frying the soil and not allowing grass to grow.

I guess you need the chicken though, right? You can buy a chick for about $7 a piece, depending on where you are what breed you get. If you buy them as chicks you get to watch them grow up and they more easily become adapted to you as their owner. There are many different breeds that bring a lot of different things to the table. Some have high production, some are impossible to kill, some are protectors, and others are just cute. I’ll write another post over what chickens are good for what reason later. We have Road Island Reds. They are hardy, impossible to kill, and produce a higher amount of eggs. They lay the brown eggs.

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*Side note: there is not nutritional difference the difference in color of egg. They all have about the same nutrient quality. Any changes in that quality comes down to what you are feeding the chicken.

Lastly, they are so much fun!! They listen to you!! I have mine trained! I let them roam during the day and at night, I take a few table scraps out to the coop and say “Hey chickens, lets go, time to go”. They all come running! Literally, running!! Its the funniest thing you may ever see! I’ll have to make a social media post about it and show you.

Okay, so I put out some harsh numbers. You’re total investment is under $400. Wow! That’s a lot for stupid chickens, especially when you could just buy the darned eggs at the store!

Yeah, that’s true. But what about when a new virus breaks out and the store is out of eggs. We’ve seen that recently, haven’t we?

Maybe it will take you a few months to save up. But I promise, in the long run they worth it!! After the initial investment you will be paying about $10 every month for free range, organic, grass fed, fairy dust, butt nuggets. Using the numbers from earlier, that is about $0.10 per egg.

OH!!! Not so expensive now is it?! Because if you were to buy the same free range, organic, grass fed, fairy dust, butt nuggets at the store you would be paying easily over $10 a dozen, that is over $0.80 per egg!

I bet you have a question though, how are you raising free range, organic, grass fed, fairy dust, butt nuggets?? Isn’t there a special license or something you have to have for that?? NOPE! If you raise chickens in your backyard and let them roam round, chase butterflies, and eat warms, you my friend are raising free range, organic, grass fed, fairy dust, butt nuggets!! I’ll write a post another time explaining how that all works. But trust me, you can do it!!

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So go out there, buy yourself some backyard chickens, and each the freshest, yummiest eggs, you’ll ever have!

 

May Newsletter

Happy May everyone!!

They say April showers bring May flowers right? With as much crazy weather as we had in April I sure hope that holds true! Speaking of weather, what a beautiful day for May 1st!!

Despite Mother Natures efforts, most of our garden crops are looking great! We even got to try out our first lettuce crop last month. Have you ever had fresh lettuce?! I mean real fresh. Like, I washed the soil off of it and then chowed down. Oh. My. Goodness. I will never be able to eat preserved lettuce again!! The taste is spectacular, the texture is phenomenal, and for me personally, the allergies are non existent!!!!! I wrote a post earlier about not being one for gardening in the past but when I found out I could eat fresh veggies and fruit from a garden without needing to rip out my throat, I decided we would plant as much of everything as we could. You can read more about it here.

Speaking of April showers, we met so many new customers and saw a lot of veteran customers. The super markets aren’t able to keep up with the just-in-time delivery system that big business has deemed pertinent and consumers are paying for it. But, that means other avenues are opening up. Your small, local, farmers are stepping up to the plate, ready to feed the communities they care for so deeply.

We are here for you. Schoentrup Farms is focusing on you. There are many important moving parts that are involved in running a successful business. And at the end of the day, yes, we are running a business. But unlike the larger corporations, our focus is not on getting as much out the door as fast as we can to make the most money as quickly as possible.

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Our focus is you. We love talking with you, getting to know you, finding out what is important to you, and what you expect from us. The result of that conversation is the high quality product you receive from us. You came to us because our products provide our community with high quality food, raised honestly, sustainability, and ethically for not only the animal, but also the soil, the air, and ultimately, our bodies. But you keep coming back because we genuinely care about YOU, as a person. Although this virus has made it difficult to do that, we will keep trying! We may not always have chicken breasts or steaks or pork chops. But we will always have a big bright smile, a genuine conversation, and a see again soon!

And since I brought up what we don’t have… many have asked about our decreased inventory. Because we raise our own animals, we only breed for a specific number each year. Thankfully, we had a few extra animals last year that pushed us into this spring. We have been able to service all kinds of new and existing customers when others couldn’t. But… we still only have so much, and yes, our freezers are getting close to empty.

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But, do not worry! We will have meat again!! I tell every customer to sign up for our email list because you will be the first notified when we restock, even before social media!! So keep an eye out for our emails.

I have always promised not to spam you with gibberish, and I have kept that promise! I send gibberish to the blog email list. If you want some extra gibberish, let me know! Send me a message and I will add you to the blog email list! Otherwise, the farm email list is strictly for our monthly newsletter and product updates. So pay attention to your email box. I would hate for you to miss out on something important.

Oh, and did you see we got a goose?! Check out our Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube channel to find out why!

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I know there is a lot of negativity in the world right now, so do us a favor, and do one thing that shines a positive light somewhere. Use the hashtag #schoentrupfarms and let us know what you are doing to enjoy the good in life!

Until next time, have a great Friday, stay safe, wash your hands, and let us know if you need some meat for your meals next week!

What, Exactly, Do We Feed Our Beef?

I wrote a post earlier about what the difference between grass finished and grain finished beef and how Schoentrup Farms fits into that, you can read about it here. But, what exactly do we feed our beef cattle? Well, the answer depends on which age group you are looking at. We have cows (the mamas), calves (the babies from the cows that under 6 months old), and our finishing calves (the calves that have been weaned from their moms and will most likely go to the processor at 12-14 months of age). All three groups eat a different diet, and depending on the time of year, those diets change.

The picture above, from left to right, shows our mineral tubs, a “treat” feed, a hay sample, and our grower feed. The mineral tub is a 24% protein mix that gives the cows and calves all the extra good stuff they need, and they love the taste of it! The “treat” feed is used when we are moving our cows. They are like dogs, if you ask them to do something, they will need a treat in return for doing it or they probably won’t do it again, so we keep some corn and soybean haul pellets on hand for that. The hay sample shows some tall fescue stems, green timothy grass, and alfalfa. This is a higher quality hay and is primarily fed to the cows, I explain why below. The last picture is the grower feed. We feed this to our calves to put on adequate fat and muscle. It has corn, a protein mix pelleted, some supplemental vitamins and minerals, and molasses for taste.

Let’s look at our cows first, they are the easiest. During the warm months, the cows are on pasture so they eat grass. They eat grass all day, everyday! But even the grass can’t always fulfil their vitamin and mineral needs, so we give them a mineral block. Its basically just salt. Think about if you were to eat only salad, your body would require some sort of sodium to transport electrolytes and keep you well hydrated. Speaking of staying hydrated, they have automatic waters in the pasture, so they never ever run out! Things are a little different during the cold season. Because grass doesn’t grow in the winter, we give the cows plenty of high quality hay so they are never deficient in a nutrient. They still have an automatic water that is heated so it doesn’t freeze over and we give them a mineral block.

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The young calves are pretty low maintenance also. They drink their moms milk until we wean them at about 6 months of age. This is for their health and their moms. Beef cows, like humans, need time to recuperate and focus on their next pregnancy, which by this point they should be about 4 to 8 weeks pregnant. Before we wean these calves however, we get their bellies ready for a grain diet but giving them we call a “creep” feed. It’s a high protein feed that is easy on their digestive systems. Ruminants need a variety of feed ingredients to make sure they are running in tip top shape, and creep feed helps with that.

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After the calves are about 6 months old and are weaned, we formulate their food to fit their needs. Our main focus in finishing beef cattle is protein, kind of like a body builder but not so intense. We start with high protein and the older the calves get, the closer they come to maturity, the closer they come to going to the processor, we lower their protein levels. Basically they eat corn, soybeans, a vitamin and mineral supplement, and we add some molasses because its tastes good! They still have free choice hay but we don’t give them the highest quality. You may wonder why. These calves are already getting all their nutrient needs from their feed, the hay is there as a fiber source to keep things moving along in their digestive track.

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And this is ever changing!! Not every animal is the same. Some animals put on weight differently than others so we tailor our feed ration to what the calves need, not necessarily what the industry standards say. We want a high quality product and feed is a huge factor in that quality. Ever heard, you are what you eat? That couldn’t be more true when you are feeding livestock! Although genetics does play a good role in quality, the food they eat turns directly into muscle which we will enjoy as meat after they reach maturity.

So there you have it folks!! That is what we feed our beef animals. I hope you enjoyed your time here and learned a few things as well! Stick around, we have so much more to share!!

2 Ingredient Buffalo Wings

Who doesn’t love wings?? In my house, anytime we can get wing, we do!! But we were out of actual wings, so we grabbed some drumsticks and went to town!

I am all for making things in the kitchen simple. We don’t need to spend 3 hours using 15 different ingredients to make a delicious meal. Especially when you are cooking with farm fresh pasture raised meat. I’m not saying this out of bias! When you cook with farm fresh meat that has been raised entirely on pasture, it cooks easier, it has way more flavor, and it is juicier!

So for todays wing recipe I had 2 packages of drumsticks which accounted for 9 drumsticks (one package had a bonus!). I used 1 cup of Franks Red Hot Sause and 4 tablespoons of local honey we get from a friend and combined them into a big mixing bowl. I heated them up with a double boiler method, just enough for the honey to mix with the Franks Red Hot evenly. I then added the drumsticks to the mixing bowl coating them entirely with the mixture. Once covered, I added them to the cast iron skillet and poured the extra sauce over the top of them.

Here’s where I went crazy!! I covered the cast iron skillet with aluminum foil and put it on the grill!! I know! Mind blown! I use my cast iron skillet for everything!!! I cooked on medium heat in the middle of the grill with only the right and left burners on for about 30 minutes, but make sure your meat is cooked thoroughly. Once the meat was cooked entirely, I took off the foil and let it cook for a little longer while rotating the drumstick to get the skin a little crunchy.

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I paired it with some zucchini I hoarded from this grocery store deficit. Weird side note, no one is taking the fruit and vegetables. Did you know you can freeze anything?! So I unfroze the zucchini by steaming it and then put it in a skillet with some olive oil to crisp it up.

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And there you go! 2 ingredients, 45 minutes later, you have some great tasting buffalo wings!

Gardening Wasn’t For Me

Until this year, I had really no interest in gardening. I love eating food fresh from the garden! Heck, because my allergies are ridiculous, garden fresh fruit and veggies are all my body will let me eat. You may be thinking, what is she talking about?! But its true. It all started in the third grade… okay, I won’t get on a tangent. Let’s just say I am allergic to fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, peanuts, and shellfish. I can have a select few fruits and vegetables or they have to be cooked. It wasn’t until college that I realized I didn’t have an allergic reaction if I ate fruits and vegetables fresh from an organic garden. How interesting… right? If there are no chemicals on the plant, I can eat it!!

Note: I don’t mess with the peanuts and shellfish!! That’s just too risky!

Back to this years garden. My husband loves to have ideas!! He wanted to build a DIY greenhouse, so I let him. He wanted to build wicking tubs, so I let him. And I have to give it to him… its working out pretty nicely! Not that I doubted him or anything, ha! If you’re interested in building some for yourself, check out his YouTube channel! He does a great job explaining everything and they are so easy to maintain!

I think we all have realized this year that being self sustainable is something we should all take seriously. So my goal is to can and/or freeze half, if not more than half, of everything that comes from our garden so we have fruits and veggies to eat throughout the winter! It has actually made me really excited about gardening this year!

There is just something to be said about a beautiful day spent outside with no real agenda, no plans, just knowing things need done and doing some of them. The weather was so nice, we decided to plant some potatoes in our outside raised beds. We also have strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, green beans, and lettuce in the greenhouse already! And I let the hubs do the hard work of tilling out some of the yard for the corn and viney plants like squash and watermelon.

We decided it would be easier to keep the weed pressure down if we used some left over garden fabric as a plastic mulch and cut small X’s in the spots we wanted to put our plants. Once we had the beds mapped out we dug our holes, added a little miracle grow, put in the transplant or seed (depending on what we were planting), and then watered them.

I noticed as the wind was picking up the fabric was being grabbed, so we made our own little stakes from 14 gauge wire. We cut off about 6 inches and bent two ends at about 2 inches. We poked it through the fabric and into the soil. It seems to be working great.

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In total, we will have 350 square feet of plants for the garden this year!!

Be sure to like our social media pages below to stay up to date on how our garden grows! I’ll also share our stories here and give updates when I can. And, if you want to sign up for my blog email list so you get a first row seat to my latest and greatest blogs, you can do so here, just click “blog email list”!

Until then, stay safe, stay healthy, and enjoy the wonderful weather!!