Constitution and Chickens

What does the Constitution have to do with Chicken Processing?

chicken processing, pastured poultry, hands on learning, constitution

Devin walked up to me this week to get his milk with a common but key question: why can’t I find an answer on what it takes to process people’s birds and sell mine?  

He’d scoured the USDA, because the literature and social media wisdom said all animals have to be USDA processed to sell them or parts thereof. He’d googled through the Michigan Department of Ag because he knew there was something about a Michigan license. But didn’t find the answer to his question in the official bureaucratic sources.  

Here’s the quick answer, as it relates to chickens: there is no law regulating the sale of live farm animals. We offer chickens as a CSA, officially, meaning you are buying a live chicken, and we’ll process it for free if you’d like.  Everyone likes, of course, so the chickens typically leave in coolers rather than crates. There is also no law regarding one person processing another person’s chickens for them. You are expected to do due diligence such that if you bring your chickens to someone to process you make sure you feel good about the sanitation and handling of your food.  You’re expected to adult this one, not trust the government to take care of it.  

When you need a license or a USDA inspected kill (essentially bringing the government in as a business partner) is when you do business with other businesses that also do business with the government via licensure. It’s a nifty racket.  If you want to expand your business into a wholesale market or some farmer’s markets, it may be a necessary evil.  But, if you can avoid having a capricious and demanding  business partner like a governmental,, unelected, unaccountable agency, that’s a wise way to go. 

And we haven’t touched on Contract Law, wherein you, as a private citizen, can contract with other private citizens and the government really can’t butt in.  Sell your chicken to Jane. It’s a private contract and not under the jurisdiction of the agencies. 

What does that have to do with the Constitution? 

“nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;”

That line comes from the Bill of Rights, 5th Amendment. According to the Constitution, only duly elected lawmakers, representing the governed (that’s you), can make LAW. And, part of due process is that the average person should be able to read and understand their rights and responsibilities under said law. 

A regulation is not a law. Period.

constitution, chicken processing, right to farm, homesteading

Unfortunately, law makers have pulled a King George: “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance….He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:” (Declaration of Independence)

However, the regulations these agencies make are still not LAW. We can give testimony to the harassment and the eating out of our substance, but that is all they’ve got.  Additionally, due process is not served when Devin can’t find out what he’s supposed to do in order to be a law abiding citizen.  Circling back, that’s because there isn’t a law. The Constitution carefully delineated that process so that the abuses that led the colonists to separate from King George and Great Britain would not be repeated.

The Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence have a lot to do with chicken processing.  Your right to life (if nourishing your self isn’t life, what is?), liberty, and pursuit of happiness (property) are Divinely given, and the government isn’t God. We’re studying these documents and our government in our homeschool this semester, and it was eye opening to read the Declaration of Independence and really consider why the colonists felt it necessary to take on a world power to defend and hold fast the human rights God gave them and their great grandfathers died to secure for them from the monarchy. 

What does the Constitution have to do with Chicken Processing?

The Constitution and Bill of Rights are your guarantee that you have the God given right to your life and how you live it, the liberty to provide for yourself within the proper common laws, and the right to your own property. Grow, process, and enjoy your chickens. Empower others to do the same by helping them out and processing their birds for them. Or providing them with nourishing, life building food. 

The Constitution is for a government by the consent of the governed, to protect our Divine rights to butcher our own chickens and feed ourselves as we see fit.  

Come talk with us about this more! Join us in the Tribe+ membership as an ACCESS member to learn more about chicken processing and how the Constitution protects your right to farm. 

consulting, hog harvest, charcuterie, on farm classes, constitution

DIY Meat Processing Is Simple!

DIY meat processing, ready or not!

We haven’t always been polished and pretty like we are now.

In fact, I picked this video so you can look at where we were working 3 years ago. Those beef were Calvin and Hobbes, and it was hard to harvest those characters. Mark was grumpy for a day or two in advance and slept poorly the night before. I told you about Endeavor last week. Harvesting animals should never get “easy,” but you get used to knowing it has to happen and following through. You don’t need fancy or polished to process your own meat. As you can see here.

What do you need for DIY meat processing a beef?

  • a gun
  • knives: skinning, boning
  • Sawzall with a carbon tipped 12″ pruning blade for halving and quartering
  • a place to hang the quarters or thirds (hear Mark’s comments on this in the video)
  • a sturdy table for cutting
  • packing materials (plastic wrap, ziplocs, and a permanent marker will do!)

That’s the bare bones. Anything more is bonus and makes your life easier. One family we know really rocked it by rearranging their kids into one bedroom, hanging the beef in a colder bedroom and cutting it on the kitchen table. You don’t need fancy and polished to DIY!

Tell us what you want!

We didn’t do a beef class this year, so you didn’t have a chance to learn this DIY meat processing skill for yourself. However, we’d love your input on what to offer next year! Watch for the Chicken processing class in June, and Homestead Hog Harvest class in November. But, what else, besides the DIY meat processing classes? Contact us back and give us your workshop wish list. What’s on your “learn to do” list for 2024?

Here are a couple resources that have helped us:

Butchering Beef (book)

The Home Butcher (book)

Beef cuts chart: https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/710aqfBvE8L.AC_SX425.jpg

Endeavor’s Legacy: A Tribute to Farm Life and Sustainability

Life on a sustainable farm has it’s drama.

As he raised the rifle and drew the bead on the massive forehead, Mark realized that he didn’t hate this animal, the bull who was tipping his head to keep a wary eye on that guy who drove the hated tractor. Endeavor often did that to all of us, side eyeing us to keep close tabs on who was where doing what.  He had trapped Mark a couple of times up on the tractor as he butted at the bucket and back blade, or banged the barn door around, effectively locking one cow or another inside. He could shove sod into a trench with that same massive head, leaving my mama heart quaking imagining if he ever got a human pinned there.  

But he was just being who he was made to be: a bull. The champion and protector of his harem. And he did it well! We didn’t hate him for it, most of the time, but we certainly respected his power and potential and dedication to his job.

This is the nature of things on a sustainable farm.  Nature is our partner but not always a friend. And sometimes we have to do things we’d rather not as a result. 

The photo below marks the culmination of much thought, effort, a restless night’s sleep, and a few tears.

The rail was one of this year’s big construction projects, built for processing the larger animals. This was the first time Jim and Frank were in charge of dealing with a cow. And we all shed a tear and thanked Endeavor, grateful for his faithful service and the gift of sustenance he was now giving us. 

It was a momentous moment. Some of our animals will live in memory for years beyond their natural lives, and Endeavor has now entered that hallowed hall.  Anyone in sustainable farming is in it to grow food, but also to be a husbandman of nature.  That’s a very old word meaning “to take care of.” That’s what we do, because we’re as much a part of the system as a leader in it.  

This is a tribute to Endeavor. We’ll honor him by using every bit of the gift he’s given.

  • Blood to enrich the soil
  • Lungs to create delicious and healthful seasoning mixes
  • Heart, liver, tongue, and spleen in various recipes
  • Tallow to be rendered for skin care and frying, or ground in with the meat for better flavor and digestion
  • Ox tail for soups and stews
  • All the bones for bone broth and a new experiment: marrow boats
  • The powerful and rich muscles for all the fabulous beef
  • Anything left over goes to the dogs, chickens, and pigs

Life is a precious gift and the universal law is “more life to all.” Therefore, nothing gets wasted. We’ll appreciate and be grateful to Endeavor for a long time to come yet!

So, this picture isn’t just a “trophy” shot. It’s a reminder of the poignant drama of life on a sustainable farm and the intricate responsibilities of being a “husbandman.”  Endeavor’s spirit lives on, echoing in the sustainable harmony of our farm, a lasting tribute to the profound interconnectedness that defines our journey as farmers and custodians of nature.

sustainable farm, grass fed beef, farm kids, guernsey

Check out another story about Endeavor here: Bull Adventures

What the heck is “Charcuterie”?

And why should I care?

Charcuterie, a term that evokes images of rustic feasts and artisanal craftsmanship, is the age-old culinary art of preserving and preparing meat products. Derived from the French words “chair” (flesh) and “cuit” (cooked), charcuterie encompasses a diverse array of techniques for curing, smoking, and transforming meats into a symphony of flavors and textures. It’s a culinary tradition that has stood the test of time, evolving from practical preservation methods to a celebrated gastronomic pursuit.

charcuterie, cured meat, mangalitsa, pigs, proscuitto

Historically, charcuterie emerged as a necessity long before refrigeration became commonplace. In an era where food preservation was paramount, communities developed ingenious methods to extend the shelf life of their meats. Salt curing, smoking, and fermentation became essential techniques, not only ensuring food safety but also infusing meats with unique and savory characteristics. Over time, what began as a utilitarian practice transformed into a culinary art form, with regional specialties and family recipes contributing to the rich tapestry of charcuterie. Here in America, we’re familiar with the old smokehouse on every farm. In Italy, France, and Romania, Russia, and Germany, each culture has it’s tradition around preserving meat. 

For the modern homesteader, learning the art of charcuterie holds a myriad of benefits. At its core, charcuterie aligns seamlessly with the principles of self-sufficiency and sustainability. By mastering the techniques of curing and preserving meats, homesteaders can reduce waste, make the most of their livestock harvests, and create a diverse and flavorful pantry that extends beyond the typical freezer storage.

Moreover, charcuterie is a testament to the value of craftsmanship and tradition. Homesteaders who delve into the world of charcuterie discover a connection to the past, where resourcefulness and skill were essential for survival. Beyond its practical applications, charcuterie embodies an appreciation for the artistry of food preparation, allowing homesteaders to elevate their culinary pursuits while fostering a deep sense of pride in their self-sustaining lifestyle.

Why are pigs the primary animals chosen for this time-honored culinary tradition?

forage farming pigs, mangalitsa pigs, hogs, pastured, charcuterie

 As new folks embark on this flavorful adventure called “charcuterie,” people often ask: can other meats can be used? Why are pigs the primary choice?

Pigs have earned their place at the center stage of charcuterie for a combination of practical and gastronomic reasons. Their unique qualities make them an ideal candidate for various curing and preservation methods.

1. Fatty Goodness:

Pigs are naturally fattier animals, and in the world of charcuterie, fat equals flavor. The intricate marbling found in pork contributes to the succulence and richness of cured meats, creating a mouthwatering symphony of taste and texture.

2. Versatility in Cuts:

From the prized belly used for bacon to the versatile shoulder and hams, pigs offer a wide array of cuts suitable for different charcuterie techniques. This versatility allows one to explore various flavors and textures, from the delicate nuances of prosciutto to the robustness of sausages.

3. Affordability and Efficiency:

Pigs are known for their rapid growth and high feed conversion rates, making them a practical choice for small-scale farming and homesteading. Their efficiency in converting feed into meat makes raising pigs a cost-effective option, aligning with the sustainability goals of many homesteaders.

4. Traditional Significance:

Throughout history, pigs have held cultural and symbolic significance in many societies. Their association with feasting and celebration makes them a natural choice for a culinary tradition deeply rooted in communal gatherings and festive occasions.

Charcuterie is not just a culinary technique; it’s a journey into the heart of culinary tradition and craftsmanship. For the homesteader and home cook, it represents a fusion of history, practicality, and the joy of creating something extraordinary from the simplest of ingredients. As the aroma of cured meats wafts through the homestead kitchen, it carries with it the essence of a timeless tradition—a tradition that continues to thrive in the hands of those who embrace the art and craft of charcuterie.


Check out our video playlist about Mangalitsa pigs and our charcuterie journey: Homestead Butchering

Come and learn hands on! You’ll leave ready to convert your own (or someone else’s) pork into fabulous and tasty traditional cured meats when you come to the two day Charcuterie and Pork Preservation class in December!

hog harvest, mangalitsa pigs, homesteading, charcuterie

Read more about it:

McNamee, Gregory Lewis. “charcuterie”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 13 Dec. 2022, https://www.britannica.com/topic/charcuterie. Accessed 27 November 2023.

The History of the Charcuterie Board: State & Allen

What is a fun fact about charcuterie?

Charcuterie is derived from the French words for flesh (chair) and cooked (cuit). The practice of salting and smoking meats to preserve them dates back about 6,000 years to ancient Rome. Charcuterie is rooted in the belief that nothing from the animal should be wasted; not even the heart, lungs, kidneys, fat, or brain.Jul 26, 2019

History of Charcuterie Boards & Why You Should Pair w/ Wine

Liver the superfood!

liver, grass fed, beef, pork

Liver! Bleeech!!!

Is that how you feel about eating LIVER? You aren’t alone, but we’ve talked to an increasing number of folks who are rediscovering the hidden secrets of health in organ meats.  Especially for those of us in northern, cold weather climates.  Jill tells the kids sometimes that something is a “liver and lumpy oatmeal thing. Very, very good for you but not particularly enjoyable.”

So, why is liver so good for your health??

These nutrient-rich organ meats offer a plethora of vitamins and minerals, providing a range of health benefits.

The Nutritional Benefits:

Beef and chicken liver are true nutrient powerhouses, loaded with essential elements crucial for various bodily functions. Some key nutrients found in these organ meats include:

Vitamin A: As one of the richest sources of vitamin A, liver supports vision, skin health, and the immune system. Vitamin A also aids cell growth and differentiation.
B Vitamins: Exceptional sources of B vitamins like B12, B2 (riboflavin), and folate, beef, and chicken liver are essential for energy metabolism, red blood cell formation, and a healthy nervous system.
Iron: Liver’s heme iron type is highly absorbable, vital for oxygen transport, energy production, and anemia prevention.
Zinc and Copper: Essential for immune function, wound healing, and maintaining skin and hair health, these minerals are abundant in liver.
Protein: Liver offers high-quality protein with all essential amino acids for tissue repair and growth.
Vitamin D: In northern climates we struggle to get enough vitamin D, especially in the winter. Nature’s solution: Liver from grazing animals!

In fact, liver is one of the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet, with significant amounts of iron, riboflavin, vitamin B12, vitamin A, and copper. Eating a single serving of liver can help you meet your daily recommended amount of most of these vitamins and minerals, reducing your risk of nutrient deficiency.

Elevating Wellness with Liver:

  1. Nutrient Abundance: Incorporating beef or chicken liver ensures an efficient supply of critical nutrients even in modest portions.
  2. Anemia Combatant: The iron content makes liver an indispensable ally in preventing and addressing iron-deficiency anemia.
  3. Immune System Booster: The synergistic blend of vitamins A and D, B vitamins, zinc, and copper found in liver strengthens the immune system, enhancing your body’s defense mechanism.
  4. Energy Amplification: B vitamins and iron bolster energy metabolism, fostering sustained vitality and mental alertness. It’s the perfect solution to winter’s moodiness and 
  5. brain fog!
  6. Appreciation for your animals’ gift of life: There’s much talk about the power of gratitude.  Using an animal’s whole gift is a way of appreciating that they gave their life for your benefit.

But… YUCK!

Well, you can continue to pay money for expensive supplements, or suffer from nutritional deficiencies, or suck it up and start experimenting and using the free food from your homestead animals.

Here are a few tips when you’re starting

  • Start with small amounts
  • Soak the liver like you would fish in milk, lemon juice, or salt water to decrease the iron taste
  • Mix small amounts with other meats in a pie, meatloaf, ground meat, or stew/stirfry.
  • Cook it gently.  Rare to medium cooked liver will be much more palatable than cooked-to-chalk liver.

Three Easy and Delectable Liver Recipes:

Beef Liver Stir-Fry:

  • Slice beef liver thinly.
  • Marinate liver with soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and a touch of honey for 15-30 minutes.
  • Heat a pan over medium-high heat and add oil.
  • Stir-fry liver for 3-4 minutes until slightly pink inside.
  • Serve over steamed veggies and brown rice.

Chicken Liver Pâté:

  • Sauté finely chopped shallots and chicken livers in butter until golden outside and slightly pink inside.
  • Blend in a food processor with heavy cream, brandy, salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.
  • Chill and serve with crackers or toasted baguette slices.

Liver and Onions:

  • Sauté onions until caramelized.
  • Coat chicken liver with seasoned flour (salt, pepper).
  • Sear liver with caramelized onions until fully cooked.
  • Serve with mashed potatoes or steamed vegetables.

Bonus! Here are two more easy and tasty options:

Chicken Liver Pâté:

  • Sauté finely chopped shallots and chicken livers in butter until browned on the outside but slightly pink inside.
  • Transfer to a food processor and add heavy cream, brandy, salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.
  • Blend until smooth and creamy.
  • Chill in the fridge and serve with crackers or toasted baguette slices.

Liver and Onions:

  • Slice onions and sauté in a pan until caramelized.
  • Dredge chicken liver in flour seasoned with salt and pepper.
  • Sear the liver in the same pan with the caramelized onions until cooked through.
  • Serve with a side of mashed potatoes or steamed vegetables.

In the realm of nutrient-dense foods, beef and chicken liver stand as unsung heroes. Laden with a treasure trove of essential vitamins and minerals, these often overlooked organ meats offer a range of health benefits that can revolutionize your overall vitality. I hope you see some of the compelling reasons behind the inclusion of beef and chicken liver in your diet. While beef and chicken liver might not claim the spotlight often, their extraordinary nutritional content and potential health advantages make them an invaluable addition to your dietary repertoire. By embracing these organ meats in your meals and savoring the straightforward recipes mentioned above, you can harness their nutritional prowess and embark on a journey towards elevated health and holistic well-being.  Let us know which of these recipes you try and like!

Want more recipes like these?

We have a whole recipes section in the Tribe+ membership for you to explore, try out, and improve your health with.  We also include an organ recipes section in the Hog Harvest Handbook when you purchase that video course.  Check them out and get started!

From Rooster to Riches: A Homesteader’s Guide to Extra Roosters

pasture raised chicken, rooster, hen, freedom ranger Raise your hand if you’ve ever wondered, “What on earth am I going to do with all these roosters?” If you’ve hatched out chicks, you know that alongside those adorable hens, you often find yourself with an unexpected surplus of roosters. It’s a legit concern! Let’s talk about the world of roosters and the surprising benefits they can bring to your homestead and table.

Unraveling the Mystique of Roosters

Roosters are more than just that crowing alarm clock; they play a crucial role in your flock. Sure, they fertilize eggs like champions, but there’s more to it than that. These fine feathered protectors are your free ranging hens’ first line of defense against predators and their trusty guides to locating the best grub. With that in mind, you can see that roosters are not just a byproduct but an essential asset to your flock’s welfare.

However, too many roosters can lead to some rather chaotic amorous behavior., and let’s be honest, that’s not a pleasant sight. A healthy balance of roosters to hens is about 1 to 10 (or less). So, the burning question is, what can you do when roosters start outnumbering your hens? Buckle up because we’ve got some tasty solutions.

Savoring the Flavor of Roosters

chicken, rooster, pastured poultryYou bet you can eat roosters! Although young roosters may be a tad tougher than a Cornish cross chicken, you can work culinary wonders to make them a delicious and satisfying meal.

Pressure Cooking Perfection: Get ready to experience tender rooster meat by pressure cooking or boiling them. While the grill might lend that smoky flavor, the dry heat can make your bird tougher.  The magic happens with “low and slow” cooking, turning your rooster into a flavorful masterpiece.

The Nutrient Goldmine: What makes young roosters extraordinary? It’s the richness in minerals and fat that delivers that unique flavor. Darker meat is a testament to this nutrient abundance, influenced by breed and age. By the time you’re ready to cull them, these young roosters are primed to give you a remarkably rich and flavorsome chicken dinner.

Now that you’re itching to explore the culinary side of your roosters, let’s dive into some lip-smacking recipes:
  • Rooster Soup Sensation: I generally include the feet when I package a rooster, so the whole thing can go in the stockpot or instapot to make super rich broth. The feet add collagen (think healthy bones, hair, and skin) and flavor in spades to your broth. Remove the bones and meat at the end of the cook time. Take the meat off the bones, dice, and return to the pot. Add any veggies and herbs you like. A rooster can make a rich broth without overwhelming the soup with meat. It’s a nice balance.
  • Pressure-Cooked Chicken Delight: Pressure cooking is a great way to enjoy a full flavor chicken that is also tender to eat. Know that it will be chewier than a store chicken, or even a cornish cross farm chicken. However, that chewiness helps develop your jaw muscles and bone, facial bones and structures, and teeth. All that mastication also ensures that you’ll get all the minerals and vitamins that rooster stored up for you. It’s a pleasurable, gentle workout that tastes good!
  • Chicken and dumplings: Follow the directions for soup, but thicken the broth. Dumplings are basically biscuits steam cooked in the stew. This is a historically fantastic way to enjoy the heritage animal that a rooster is.

chicken, rooster, pastured poultry

Roosters are far from being a homestead liability. They’re a treasured asset that adds flavor, excitement, and protection to your flock. So, embrace your roosters, and savor the delightful meals they can provide. They’re not just a gift; they’re a culinary adventure waiting to happen on your homestead.

*************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Learn how to process your own roosters! Join us in the spring Pastured Poultry and Chicken Processing class or join the Tribe+ website membership and get the full and complete video course for free.