Have you ever wondered where your food comes from? Specifically, the meat you eat? Some people think nothing more than that it comes from the grocery store. Magically appearing before they arrive. There are other ways. Some of us know and a few of us want to teach others to know as well.
We are Chuck and Heather Vessey of Vessey Ranch. We have spent the last several years trying to learn the way things were done in the past. We want to share some of what we’ve learned.
100 years ago, grocery stores were a novelty and few if any carried meat. Most people still raised their own meat and others went to the butcher. From an early age our grandparents and great grandparents were taught to raise and care for the family cows, pigs, chickens or whatever else they had. They were also taught to butcher or process the animals when the time came.
If you were to ask kids these days, especially those living in the cities where their meat comes from before it gets to the store most probably couldn’t tell you.
Driving to the local grocery store to purchase our weeks’ worth of meat is just a part of life. That’s why so few people know anything about raising their own meat. We decided that we wanted to raise our own, so we know what’s in it and where it’s been. If you watch the news you regularly hear of recalls on meat. You also have to worry about the hormones and anti-biotics that are used in commercially raised animals. That stuff can’t be good for you.
We weren’t raised on the farm and didn’t experience raising our own animals for food growing up. I was a Navy brat and lived all over the place, mostly Alaska. Heather was raised in town. My last 2 years of high school however I lived on the farm with my grandparents.
Every year they would order 100 chicks. I would care for them until they were big enough and we would have the entire family down for a butcher party. I would hold the chickens before and after the removal of their cranium. Dunking and pulling feathers by hand was so much fun and I would spend a couple of hours stripping gizzards for grandma. When I left for college, I was so happy to not have to do that again.
Fast forward more years than I care to admit, and Heather and I decide in late 2019 that raising and selling meat chickens might be a good endeavor to start. In April of 2020 we prepared to process our first batch of birds. She had never done it before and my experience in the process was limited.
We researched and watched videos and I even watched a live demonstration at the Mother Earth News Fair in February of 2020. We went into the first batch hesitantly confident. We did have a friend come by and guide us with the first few. Thanks Jeremy from Ten Oaks Farm. He even loaned us their chicken plucker which is so much better than plucking by hand.
Well our first batch was small, only 11 birds and it took us about 4 hours to complete the process of processing. Thankfully, we improved greatly over the next few months. We also purchased our own plucker.
We had a good system going. I would take care of the dispatching, dunking and removal of feathers. Heather then would attend to the dis-assembly procedure. We then worked together to weigh, bag and seal each bird. Our last batch of 25 took us 2 hours. Much better.
Now we want to teach more people how to do it. We have had a few people over to watch and help because they were wanting to learn. We are going to take it up a notch and offer classes where we will teach and those wanting to learn can learn hands on and they even get to keep the bird they work on. Our first class was October 3rd. We want to get to the point where we can do classes more often.
In the future we will be looking to add more classes on other subjects that we have learned over the years. We have taught soap making and essential oils classes in the past. Some of the other topics we want to teach include microgreens, moringa, backyard construction of things like chicken coops, goat butchering and rainwater collection. Topics that a surprising number of people want to learn more about.
For those that want to know where their meat comes from, we want to offer a way to learn. For more information, like and follow Vessey Ranch on Facebook and check back regularly on here.
Have you ever heard of microgreens? Most people have heard of sprouts and greens of course but the number of folks that know what microgreens are is a small but growing number.
We are Chuck and Heather Vessey of Vessey Ranch. Today we are going to discuss this relatively new way of getting the veggies you need. I say relatively only because so many people are not yet familiar with them even though they have been around quite some time now.
According to Wikipedia, “Microgreens are vegetable greens harvested just after the cotyledon leaves have developed”. Cotyledon is a fancy way of saying the first leaves or baby leaves if you will.
These tiny plants are packed full of nutrition. In fact, WebMD had an article about them in August of 2012 saying they “have up to 40 times more vital nutrients than mature plants”. There are many sources out there that you can look at to see what the experts are saying about microgreens.
Microgreens can come from a variety of plants. We use beets, sunflower, collards, kale, cabbage, turnips, mustard, radish and peas. What’s really cool to me since I’m not a big fan of vegetables is that they taste a little like the full-grown plant but not much. So, if you don’t like beets you can eat a more nutritious version without more than a hint of the taste.
There are at least as many ways to use these amazing little plants as there are options of plants. We mix them together and use it as our salad. The taste from the mixture is great. We add some cheese and dressing and done. I also use them in my morning smoothies. Others have told us that they will use them any place you would use other vegetables such as lettuce. Sandwiches, topping for tacos, garnish. These are some of the ways that professional chefs use them as well. They add texture, color and flavor. The beets for example are a beautiful reddish-purple color.
Besides the nutritional value that you get there is another cool aspect of microgreens. If you can get the conditions right, temperature, humidity, soil mixture and water to name a few, you can grow them in a week or less from seed to ready to harvest. Getting everything perfectly balanced is tricky and a change of temperature can change it from a week to two or more. Growing them in the winter takes longer than in the summer.
If you want to grow them it is best to have them inside where you have a better chance of controlling all the factors. A greenhouse is an option or simply an area in your house.
When we started growing them it was a lot of trial and error. More error than anything at first. There are still times when we look at them and scratch our head and have that “Huh?” look on our faces. What worked fine for the last several months did nothing this week. Could just be a batch of seeds that wasn’t very good. It is hard to know sometimes.
We have a decent set up with grow lights and a shelf that we can spread the trays out on. I will be working on making the area where we have them a little more climate controlled before winter returns.
If you’re interested in learning more about them, we will be offering that chance at one of our upcoming classes. By joining us, hopefully you can bypass some of the errors that we dealt with while getting started.
In the near future we will be looking to add this and more classes on other subjects that we have learned over the years. We have taught soap making and essential oils classes in the past. Some of the other topics we want to teach include moringa, backyard construction of things like chicken coops, goat butchering and rainwater collection. Topics that a surprising number of people want to learn more about.
We held our chicken processing class earlier in October and it went very well. Those that attended went home with some knowledge and a fresh chicken.
For more information and to stay in the loop when we have dates for our classes, like and follow Vessey Ranch on Facebook
What do you think of when I mention goats? Do you picture in your mind a cute little baby goat in pajamas? Maybe one of the old cartoon depictions of a goat eating a can? If you were in the Navy like I was you may have a different picture of a goat in your mind. Most people don’t know a lot about goats, but this article is going to enlighten you a little if you are one of those. Well that is my plan anyway.
We are Chuck and Heather Vessey of Vessey Ranch. Today we are going to discuss these delightful, amusing, exasperating little butt heads.
We have had goats since 2008. We acquired our first goat because our daughter wanted to get into FFA, and this was her animal of choice. I’m grateful she didn’t choose pigs but that’s a story for another time.
We fenced off an area of our tiny one-acre rental property and went down the road to see a lady that raises goats. We picked up a little Boer whether. Boer goats are known as meat goats. I’ll talk more about the different breeds and purposes later.
So, we took young Gunther home and proceeded to start learning about goats. Over the years we have learned much. Mostly through trial and error but also much from others. We have learned that unlike what we were told growing up, goats will not eat anything. I can promise you though that given the chance they will eat everything you don’t want them to eat.
They love grape vines, rose plants, blueberry bushes and many of the things in your garden. Yes, I am speaking from experience here.
Now to discuss some of the different breeds. I’ve mentioned Boer goats are for meat. I have heard from several sources that goat is the number one consumed meat everywhere in the world except here in America. When prepared well it is quite tasty.
If you are looking for a milk goat, your best bet is a Lamancha. We had a friend who raised them and would get a gallon of milk twice a day from each of her girls. That is a lot. Other dairy breeds include Saanen, Alpine and Nubian.
Another dairy breed is the Nigerian Dwarf. This is our favorite and what we have the most of here. Although it is classified as a dairy breed you don’t want to have to make a living off the milk you get from these girls. They are as the name suggests small. The males average 19-23.5 inches with the females typically an inch or two shorter. You can milk them, but you won’t get the quantity of the bigger breeds. When we have milked ours, we usually get 10 to 12 ounces twice a day.
Any breeds of goat can be milked and eaten though so the amount of meat or milk you want should be a major factor in choosing.
Nigerian Dwarf is our favorite for few reasons. We are not big fans of goat milk, so we don’t need a dairy breed. They are one of the smallest breeds which reduces the cost of feed and the space required. Being small makes them easier to handle if needed as well. Most importantly though is that they are fun. They love to play and are a joy to watch.
Some people have goats for meat, some for milk, some as a weed eater and others as a natural anti-depressant. These remarkable critters can serve all these purposes.
If you’re interested in learning more about them, we will be offering farm tours very soon. We should have a bunch of baby goats born between Thanksgiving and the end of the year and we always need help socializing them.
Before getting into raising goats there are a few things to know. I don’t have space enough to get into them here and now, but I will share one. That is that they can be great escape artists. If there is a weakness in your fence, they will find it.
If you would like to learn more or to set up a tour, feel free to reach out to us. We will be adding classes on various subjects as well. These are a few. Soap making, essential oils, the moringa plant, microgreens, backyard construction of things like chicken coops, goat butchering and rainwater collection.
For more information and to stay in the loop when we have dates for our classes, like and follow Vessey Ranch on Facebook, (Watch for baby goat pics too!!)