Well, here we are, six months later. We’ve finished our first six-month CSA and we’re gearing up for the next set.

Suffice it to say, we’ve learned a lot.

In the early months, we had some problems with inconsistent weight—some birds weighed four pounds, some weighed two…  and this after eating the same food in the same conditions with the same care! After a few calls to the hatchery, upping the ratio of males to females, and more consistent doses of milk and lentils in their diets, we got everyone’s weight up—we had a lot of five-pounders in January (and two that weighed in around eight pounds!).

Over the past few months, we also eliminated the last few traces of soy from our birds’ diet. We are officially, 100% soy-free!

One thing that didn’t plague us at all this last go-round—which did cause problems the summer before last—were the health issues pretty common to Cornish Cross birds. We had no problems at all with pneumonia, heart attacks, or weight-bearing on the chickens’ legs. The Cornish Cross bird is bred to grow lots of muscle very swiftly, but their hearts, lungs, and leg bones can’t keep up. But by giving them plenty of light, deep bedding that keeps them very clean, and food that feeds their other body systems (and not just their muscle growth), we’ve all but eliminated these very common problems.

We are excited to begin again in March. And yes, in response to the commonly asked question, we DO enjoy doing this. Our children play nearby, we visit and banter as we work, and there’s tremendous satisfaction in getting the job done (to say nothing of the views, the fresh air, and the sunlight). There’s not much that’s better than that.

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A visit to the farm in the middle of July

The chicken barn/brooder, shelter from the elements for the rather touchy, fragile Cornish Cross breed. We're planning to mount a "Goodweight" sign up above the door there.

Some of September's batch huddling for warmth. The little ones like it downright hot—in the 90's. Thus far, not a single peep in the whole lot has been lost.

August's birds eating, drinking, and enjoying the draft-free barn. This year's Cornish Cross are clean, hale, and healthy, not having to contend with our "summer" weather. More room in here than in a tractor, too.

A chick scans the pea chaff bedding for legumes to gobble. Or perhaps grain. Or bugs. There's almost as much to eat in here as out there, but it's also twenty degrees warmer.

The young Leghorns (a heritage breed) are hardier than the Cornish Cross, and they flourish outside.

Pigs discussing derivatives and credit-default swaps.

One of zillions of laying hens next to a pregnant she-goat.

If you give me that camera, I promise to eat it.

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“Broth is Beautiful”

In the interest of getting every last wholesome calorie and nutrient out of our delicious chickens, we’ve taken to making stock.

The flavor alone justifies the effort. Homemade stock is hearty, free of any flavor enhancers, and available in whatever concentration you like for use in reductions, soups, gravies, rice, or even just in a mug when you’ve got a cold coming on. Rich in color, flavor, and texture, it simply embarrasses any broths or bouillons you might come across in the store.

Besides being lovely to behold and lovely to the palette, it’s wealthy with health benefits. Made of bones, marrow, gelatin, and joints distilled almost to their essence, it’s packed with calcium, iron, and a multiplicity of vitamins and minerals—magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur, and other trace minerals—ready to be quickly and easily assimilated into your body. Gelatin, too, is a soothing healer of many digestive disorders.

So, with all that in mind, here’s how you do it… Assemble in a large stockpot:

  • at least one chicken carcass plus other chicken leftovers (feet, if you got ’em!)
  • 1/4 cup of vinegar (which helps draw out calcium and minerals)
  • an onion
  • a carrot
  • a few stalks of celery
  • some peppercorns
  • any herbs you’d like to flavor it—rosemary, sage, parsley, thyme etc.

Then cover it completely with water. Bring it to a simmer and keep it that way—covered—for at least 12 hours. Periodically, lift the lid and skim off any scum that rises to the surface. We let ours go three days, which means you’ll have to add water periodically and turn it way down at night when you’re not checking on it.

Once you’re done simmering your stock, strain out the solids. We pour the stockpot contents through a sieve into a smaller pot, in which we reduce the stock until it is silky in texture and the color of dark caramel (color can be affected by how you cooked the chicken, or if you started out with a lot of raw bird…). After the stock cools, pour it in a container you can tightly seal, or freeze it in an ice cube tray. As for the solids, you can compost them, feed them to your cat, or toss ’em to your hogs (if you have hogs, pets, or a compost pile).

And with the chicken stock in your arsenal, begin eating more beautifully.

Posted in Chickens, Recipes, What do I do with a WHOLE chicken?! | 1 Comment

Angelo Pellegrini: Eschew the fakirs

Those, however, who look to Europe for instruction in cooking must studiously avoid the fakirs, the gastronomic sensationalists, the apostles of culinary decadence. Too often, the cuisine these immature gourmets write about is precious and extravagant. It is the cuisine of the idle rich, foreign and domestic, designed to give new thrills and new excitements to pitiful souls who have never known the enduring joy of an honest, productive life. It is the cuisine of consecutive courses, accompanied by a variety of wines, white and red, still and sparkling, following by exotic desserts and an array of liqueurs.

What the American housewife needs, first of all, is to formulate a sensible attitude toward food and drink; to see the dinner hour in perspective, as an element in the good life. She needs next, not recipes under baffling, foreign names, but rather some basic culinary ideas to aid her in making judicious use of the extraordinary quantity and variety of materials at her disposal. For valuable guidance in the preparation of inexpensive and distinguished fare, she could do no worse than look to the European mother who, perhaps unhappily , has no illusions about her proper place and function. The ultimate goal here should be the perfection of a native cuisine, varied and enriched by culinary ideas brought to us by our immigrants from the four corners of the world.

Thus, Angelo Pellegrini, from the first chapter of his magnificent The Unprejudiced Palate: Classic Thoughts on Food and the Good Life, written in and around Seattle in the 1940’s. If there’s anything here that really gets our hearts a-stirrin’, it’s that “ultimate goal” he concludes with: the perfection of a native cuisine.

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Oven-Fried Chicken on the Food Network

We sell chickens. We cook chickens….ALOT. Fully half of the Goodweighters are from the South originally.
Therefore, we give you one of our favorite fried chicken recipes.
Side note: if you love a nice salty crust on your chicken, add an extra teaspoon or two of salt to the flour mixture.


Oven-Fried Chicken on the Food Network.

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How to cut up a whole chicken

Let’s begin with the most intimidating part of the process of cooking your own whole chickens. Cutting it up into the “usual” parts.

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Welcome to Giving Good Weight!

Hello Goodweight Chickens customers!

We are biting the bullet and making a blog for you.

The purpose of the blog is to offer you as much information as we can on the chickens you buy from us.

We’ll be putting up everything from where we are in the ordering process for this summer to recipes and handy tips like how to cut up a whole chicken.

One of the most common problems we’ve run into so far has been that we are all used to buying chicken parts in the quantity we want for a recipe. So, you want to make chicken kiev – you buy a whole bunch of breasts, or you want to make wings, so you buy a package of wings. Well, when you buy whole birds and stick them in your freezer, this becomes much more complicated. So, one of our main recipe and handy tip focuses will be “What do I do with a WHOLE chicken?”

We’ll be showing pictures of our processes – everything from baby fluffballs to the finished, cooked chicken on your table.

We welcome recipe submissions and your own photos of the food you’ve made with the chickens as well.

We hope you enjoy!

Joel and Jordan Myers

Brendan and Sharon O’Donnell

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