Collecting and processing eggs on a breeding/conservation farm is much more time consuming than gathering and processing generic market eggs. We track the production of our pure-bred Partridge Chantecler and Standard Bronze turkey hens so we know if we are on the "right track" for historic production standards. This means we need to keep the eggs from all the various coops and family groups separate so we can track the quantity of eggs, the quality of the chicks produced and the fertility of each group. With close to 300 birds, that means extra time and lots of marked containers.
Each day our Chantecler chicken and Standard Bronze turkey eggs are collected, each group of eggs is counted and the quantities are marked on a spreadsheet. The eggs that are the best in shape and size are marked with a pencil to note the family and set aside to potentially be incubated or shipped to customers seeking to hatch their own chicks. All the other eggs go into a community basket to be rinsed with hot water, packaged in cartons and refrigerated for market eggs. (THANK YOU for buying the eggs so we can keep more hens which means additional genetic diversity in our flock!)
The eggs set aside for possible incubation are candled (checked with a flashlight) to make sure the air sac is at the top of the large end of the egg and stationary. They are also checked to make sure there are no cracks and the shell quality is strong and consistent throughout. The eggs are then placed in the bottom drawers of cabinets in our basement and stored for no longer than 1 week before setting in the incubator (or a couple days before shipping). Storing them longer may reduce the viability of the egg. We have a spring that flows under the basement so it stays very cool year round.
Incubation for fertilized .chicken eggs takes 21 days and 28 days for turkey eggs (turkey eggs are less "mature" when they are laid). The eggs are moved off the floor earlier in the day to avoid too much shock from putting them in a warm incubator. I candle the eggs one more time and set them in the incubator. The incubator has a stable temperature and rotates the eggs automatically to "exercise; the yolk". Ten days after being in the incubator, the eggs are candled for signs of life and the eggs that are not viable are discarded.
At day 17 for chicken eggs and day 21 for turkey eggs, the eggs are candled one more time to make sure all are viable and moved to a "hatcher". The hatcher has stationary trays where the eggs are laid on their sides for the chicks and turkey poults to get into position for hatching. If all goes well we hear peeping and the rumble of little chicks or poults in the trays on the hatch date!
I have been learning how to use our InstantPot with traditional recipes and this was a slam dunk! Then again, Granny's BBQ Ribs are ALWAYS a winner. Even the liquid did not go to waste as I made Jasmine rice with it as a side dish.
Great-Grandma Ruth taught me how to make these ribs when I was in high school and it is one of our all time favorites (next to her Spaghetti Sauce recipe that needs a picture worthy of the taste!) I tweaked the recipe for the InstantPot (electric programmable pressure cooker) and it worked perfectly in MUCH less time! Adjust the quantities to suit your budget and how many you plan to feed - I would plan for 1 lb of ribs per person.
Granny's BBQ Ribs
3 lb Babyback or spare ribs (I used Auburn Meadow Farm pasture-raised pork)
Salt & pepper
Avocado oil (or lard) to brown the ribs
1 cup ketchup (approx)
1/4 cup brown sugar, maple syrup or honey (approx)
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce (approx)
Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs and cut into pieces of 3 ribs or so that it will fit in the base of the pot. Sprinkle both sides with salt & pepper. I most always use Kosher salt for cooking so it does not interfere with he flavor.
Set the InstantPot to "Sauté" and add about 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil or lard (enough to barely coat the pan). When hot, brown sections of the ribs on both sides (I added just enough to cover the bottom and moved them to a plate when brown.) When all sections have been browned, add 1 cup of water to hot pot and scrape the "fond" or bits from the bottom. Turn off the pot and add the rack to the bottom.
Mix the BBQ sauce in a mixing bowl - I use a fork to break up the sugar. The cool thing about this sauce is YOU decide when it is sweet or tangy or tomatoey enough! It is made to taste. Ketchup is the base, the sweet from the brown sugar and the tang from the Worcestershire sauce. If you want it spicier, add more Worcestershire. Sweeter = more sugar. If you overdo the sweet or tangy, add more ketchup. Just go slow the first time and taste as you go. This sauce can be used for ham BBQ, BBQ beef, BBQ on burgers, etc.
Coat the ribs with BBQ sauce (I used about 1/2 of it) and stack loosely on the rack in the pot - kinda like a tee-pee. Set the pot to high for 30 minutes. I did a quick release at the end.
Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees while the ribs are cooking. Remove the ribs to a baking dish or cookie sheet and coat both sides with the BBQ sauce again. Spread them out some so that the BBQ sauce will caramelize some while baking. Bake until caramelized but not getting too brown - it was about 15-20 mins in our convection oven (you could also use the broiler).
I measured the liquid in the bottom of the pot after the ribs came out and added rice to and little water to match.
You can make the ribs in a covered roaster or crockpot but it takes much longer to bake them.
Checking things off the "to-do" list: bi-annual Avian Influenza flock test done - CHECK! Another layer of complexity that some local food only farms do not have to deal with!
Old Time Farm participates in the National Poultry Improvement Program or NPIP. Our rare Partridge Chantecler chicks and hatching eggs are shipped all over the country to homesteads, farmsteads and show homes - not just egg producers or meat birds for local markets. To ship chicks and hatching eggs across state lines legally, states require you to be a participant in this program which is one precautionary layer to the spread of transmissible poultry diseases.
The NPIP program is a state/federal partnership that is administered by the Department of Agriculture in our state. Our facility/hatchery is inspected annually by the PA Dept. of Ag for cleanliness and our entire flock is inspected for disease as well. Our birds are blood tested for Salmonella Pullorum annually and Avian Influenza twice a year. We are required to keep records of where birds are sold to, have plans for how to reduce our birds exposure to disease (biosecurity plan) and all birds coming onto our farm must first be blood tested or come from another NPIP participant flock.
Pennsylvania utilizes state trained and licensed Certified Poultry Technicians (CPT) to draw the blood for the tests. I obtained my CPT licensure so I could draw blood from our birds after they have roosted at night so there would be less stress on them (and me). I was trained on how to properly draw blood, secure & ship proper samples, biosecurity, identification of disease and more. The state monitors my procedures and processes to make sure I am using best practices.
I was told that it would be almost impossible for us to obtain the NPIP certification because our birds are on pasture or free range. The program is geared toward confined birds used for industrial agriculture so our pre-industrial methods created some challenges in understanding where we fit in. I am extremely thankful that our state has worked with me so I can meet the needs of our genetics customers as well as those at the farmers markets we attend as well as our own nutritional needs.
More coming on biosecurity soon - we need to protect the biomes of our local farms. Yes, farms have biomes too!
2 quarts (8 cups) of stock or broth made with Old Time Heritage Chicken. I made mine from the leftover bones of a whole chicken I cooked in the crockpot 6-8 hours for a meal the evening before. I put the bones back into the crock pot after dinner, added enough water to cover (approx 8-10 cups), cooked on low overnight and strained the bones out in the morning. You can cook the bones for 24-48 hours in the crockpot on low and add a little apple cider vinegar, if you want. This can also be simmered on the stove on low as well.
2 medium Zucchini cut up (I used yellow & green for color)
1 quart beans snapped in 1-2" pieces (green, yellow and purple)
5 leaves of Kale chopped coarsely (Lacinato Kale for color)
5 leaves of Swiss Chard chopped coarsely
1 onion chopped coarsely
4 medium carrots
4 ears of corn - (fresh or left over) kernels chopped off
1 good handful (1 cup) chopped parsley
1 pint of Okra roughly sliced
6 tomatoes coarsely chopped
1 small head of cabbage coarsely sliced
1 bay leaf (I added it to the bones while they cooked)
Salt to taste (a teaspoon or so would be by guess but I add it after the veggies cook into the soup and add their flavor!).
I cooked mine for 8 hours on low in the crock pot but you can bring to a boil and simmer on the stove until the veggies are tender.
Cooking Tips:Tip 1: My goal is to combine the various colors, textures & flavors so use what is available at your local farmer's market or your freezer.
Tip 2: Add veggies until the broth/stock is full of veggies - they will cook down. There is no hard and fast rule on how much to add. Be creative and enjoy cooking!
Tip 3: I did not add potatoes or noodles of any sort as I will freeze the leftovers for a quick meal at a later date! Potatoes and pasta do not freeze well for me in soup!
Tip 4: You can use Beef, Pork, Turkey or Chicken broth/stock for the base. You will find that the Old Fashioned Heritage Chicken from Old Time Farm has much more flavor that the commercial type store bought chicken!
This is comfort food at its best! Cream of Chicken Soup made with our very own Old Time heritage Chantecler chicken and kniffles (German egg dumplings) made with our Old Time Chantecler eggs.
Recipe for Cream of Chicken Soup
Recipe for Kniffles (full disclosure: not the recipe I used - that one came from my Great Grandma and is done by texture and does not use water or milk. The water or milk will allow you to make the finer spaetzle. The recipe I use is more similar to the egg noodle recipe above but has more egg to make a softer, more gooey dough).
This is some YUMMY Broccoli Cheese Soup I made with broth from our very own Chantecler chicken along with onions, garlic & broccoli purchased from the local Farmer's Markets we attend and cream-line milk in a glass bottle from the Meadville Market House.
Here is the Recipe for the Cream of Broccoli Soup and the broth/stock instructions are here.
You are not limited to using chicken stock or broth. Make a stock from the leftover cut ends/trimmings of your veggies or even from a ham bone.
Here is my favorite Recipe for Chicken Noodle Soup from Southern Living Cookbook ! And here is a Recipe for Homemade Egg Noodles like my Great Grandma Ruth taught me to make!
Homemade noodles from our farm fresh eggs takes the recipe over the top but, in a pinch, I would suggest using a Kluski type noodle instead of the fine noodle in the Chicken Soup recipe!
Any cut of our Old Time Chicken or Turkey will work for this soup or start with Old Time Bone Broth and add the veggies and noodles.
Bone stock/broth is the base for many of the soup recipes I make. I am not faithful to one recipe or style to make the stock. Sometimes I used roasted bones, sometimes smoked bones and sometimes fresh bones, sometimes I use whole chickens as well. The main ingredients are heritage chicken (bones, carcass, skin and even feet of one chicken), water to cover bones and a little salt to taste (or not as you like). You can add herbs and/or vegetables as well. I like to use my crock pot and let it cook on low for a minimum of 12 hours and a maximum of 48 hours. Strain the bones from the stock when warm and refrigerate or freeze when cool.
Trivia tidbit ... "Bone Broth" should technically be called "Bone Stock". Broth = made from meat or meaty bones and "stock" = made from bones. You can find a good explanation here.
Old Time Farm