homesteading · self-reliance

Grumpy Grandpa Gets a New Toy

Grumpy Grandpa Gets a New Toy–Disclaimer; If you think all your food comes from the grocery store and eating what you grow is distasteful, click off this blog right now because it could get gruesome for you.


I write the above disclaimer because a few years ago Grumpy Grandpa and I felt that we would like to do some traveling. In order to leave our backwoods homestead for any length of time we would be forced to sell our animals. It was quite the effort, to be sure. We searched and searched, in the end we just couldn’t find any willing, able bodied, humans that would live out here and care for them in our absence, so we sold them all. Even to pay someone a good wage, the amount of work around here was more energy than interviewees  were willing to give. Also, we are a bit isolated. Between the amount of work and the isolation, well, there were just no takers.

It was February when we made the decision  we would like to do some traveling. That meant we needed to start selling our critters now if we wanted to be ready by spring to hit the road. Chickens were first to be posted on Craig’s list,  20 beautiful, one year old laying hens with pictures went up online. We really didn’t think anyone would be interested at this time of year. Our area was elbow deep in snow. Boy, were we wrong!

The e-mails and phone calls came in like a troubled 747. The phone and computer were smokin’, but not to buy the hens. People were pleading with us to make sure our chickens had a good home and that no harm would come to them. Please, please make sure the new owner isn’t going to eat them, one lady begged. Another lady wanted me to contact her after I had sold the girls to reassure her that they went to a good home. E-mail after e-mail and one phone call after another for days. I’m absolutely not making this stuff up, it really happened. Perfect strangers demanding that I do the right thing! It was crazy.

Just to put everyone at ease, however, we ended up selling them to a guy about our age who wanted younger hens to add to his flock because his hens were 4 years old and not laying any more. Yeah, I know.

So, if you are someone who thinks your food mysteriously appears at the grocery store wrapped in nice packages, then read no further. We kill animals out here in the backwoods and eat them! Chickens, ducks, deer, rabbits, fish, turkeys, partridge, etc.  I do, however, draw the line at road kill. I’m not Granny Clampet. And vegetarian on the label of a carton of eggs cracks me up, what a gimmick! Chickens love road kill and fish and worms and bugs. Hell, they even eat each other. Someone hit a snowshoe hare out on the road, tossed it into the chicken pen and boom, half an hour later all that is left are some fur and bones. But I digress.

This spring we went nuts in the head and purchased 100 baby chicks and 8 ducklings. For those of you unfamiliar with the process; at the feed store you can order what is called a straight run, which is a mixture of hens and roosters. You don’t know what you got until they start to mature. This year we ended up with about 50/50, 50 hens and 50 roosters. (Usually, it is about 80/20, 80% roosters, 20% hens per order.) This year 50+ of our chickens will go into the freezer. (No hate mail, please.)

It’s a ton of work putting up that many critters, so Grumpy Grandpa made the decision to purchase some mechanical help.When we were younger, living off the land and doing everything by hand was fun and challenged our creativeness, but we had strong, healthy backs back then. At the tender age of 63, I can still toss a 50 pound bag of chicken scratch over my shoulder and carry it around but oh do I pay for it the next day. We did forego some other needed items to be able to purchase this back saving appliance. We are so glad we did.

Video may be disturbing, watch at your own digression. I pulled this off youtube to give you an idea of how this cool machine works.


In a matter of seconds you can have two chickens, or two ducks, or one turkey cleaned and ready to go. Awesome device, I’d like to kiss the guy who invented this thing.



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