Day 2 of self-isolation on the homestead: food security and reuse

in Inner Blockslast year

Settling into a new routine and getting used to doing everything together as a family. I got some rare alone time during nap to work on a couple sustainable food projects. I butchered some wild game that has been in my freezer for months.

Shellfish oil from scraps

This year I learned how to target and harvest raccoons. I am interested in and fond of furbearers, and I wanted to learn how to manage predation on my backyard chicken flock. I also wanted to know how to humanely harvest and enjoy a sustainable wild source of meat and fur. In particular, I was concerned that if something were to happen to disrupt the availability of chicken feed, I would be eating my layers instead of supporting them as a renewable food source. I've heard from old timers that many families kept their flocks going in the Great Depression via wild game and roadkill. Well, here we are with supply chains shattered in a period of weeks and indefinitely sheltering in place.

Last summer, we caught a mess of blue crabs, and I saved their shells in the freezer to make my own shellfish oil to lure raccoons in. In addition to harvesting a few during our brief season, I enjoy watching them, foxes, and coyotes year round on a game camera.

To make the shellfish oil, I put the crab shells in glass mason jars and filled them up 80% with water. Let this sit in the sun for a few months, and the light will render the fat. Decant the oil and store in a tight-fitting jar. It is pungent.

This year I also tried making a hybrid beaver tail and shellfish oil. A few months ago, I picked up a roadkill beaver on the road after watching a video by my friend Jeremiah Wood on making beaver tail oil. Since I only had one beaver tail, I combined the cut-up beaver tail with some crab shells and put it in a mason jar.

Absolutely beautiful beaver tail

They should all be ready by mid-summer.

Renewable chicken feed

This season, I harvested four raccoons and a few possums. For the possums, today I removed the hide for tanning and craft projects, I quartered each possum. I combined these quarters with the fat I scraped from a coon hide in a crock pot and cooked for a few hours. Then I fed it to the chickens. The old timers used to feed a coon raw to their chickens to get through the winter, but I felt like I had to cook it since I spoil my girls.

I am going to do this process with all the coons I emptied out of the chest freezer, and freeze the stew in ziploc bags. I should have 2 weeks of frozen chicken feed, enough hides to make a set of hats for everybody, and some frozen meat for us if we are stuck here longer than I expect.
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Do you regularly feed animal protein to your birds, or is it just as it is available?

My husband is an avid deepsea fisherman, and we feed pollock to our flock for animal protein, because while he loves to catch it, we don't like the flavor.

But should he not be able to go fishing, using road kill or varmints is an alternative.

I feed animal protein all the time to my chickens. For example I regularly mix fat drippings into their feed. They love fish. I have heard anecdotally if you give them all fish the egg flavor will suffer but I don't know. Nice to see you are still actively posting and your farm and renovations are going strong.

The fish flavor is true. One should not exceed 10% by weight of a bird's daily ration, or eggs will taste fishy. Every now and again we get one that does, as someone gets a chance to be a bogart.

Fat is very different than protein, and I've had trouble, especially in winter, if they get too much. It will give them diarrhea, not good in winter!

So they get the fish or very lean meat every day in a measured amount, and the fat is reserved sparingly for winter when they need extra energy.

Not to get too much into chicken poop, but I have noticed that when I give my chickens more animal meat they get firmer poop. I guess that would the protein right? And do you think that is ok?

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I like the idea of picking feeding varmint and roadkill animals to the chickens. I also plan on harvesting some duckweed from a couple of farm ponds around here and inoculating my pond. It is supposed to grow super fast (I may end up regretting putting it in my pond) and is really high in protein.

I'm also interested in how the shellfish and beaver tail oil turns out. Keep us updated!

the duckweed is a great idea. i see it floating all the time on farm ponds (it kind of takes over!) let us know how it goes.

Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

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