The Season of Abundance


The chickens have been working overtime. I try to tell them to relax, take a break, but they just can’t. They love their work! WE HAVE SO MANY EGGS.

Chicken at work in the corner of the goat house.

Chicken thrown off the job so I can collect eggs. Pink and blue and green and white. I love my Easter-egger layers. (Little red hen notwithstanding. This is a widely-shared nest.)

Goats attack me the entire time. Blurry photo as I attempt to make my escape.

Glory Bee, right behind me, THIS CLOSE. Her eyes are so big, I fear I may fall into them.

Fleeing to safety under hot pursuit.

Meanwhile, Beulah Petunia is spitting out milk like she’s got 20 babies to feed instead of none. It’s wonderful to be swimming in milk and cream and butter again. It’s too much, of course. A family cow can supply a big family. As I wean Glory Bee and get used to having so much milk again, I have to adjust my mindset to deal with the plenty. It’s the same thing as when I have dozens of eggs or even when I look at the bags and bags of herbs I’m already harvesting in my garden. I have to remind myself that it’s okay if I can’t use it all. We are, most of us, brought up in the notion of waste not-want not, and that is a high priority here, too, but there are different variables. When purchasing food, most people try to purchase an amount that can be used before it goes bad. You wouldn’t go out and buy eight dozen eggs then give three-fourths of them away because it’s more than you need. Nor would you buy 10 or 12 gallons of milk a week and slop some to your pigs or chickens or dogs. But even on a small farm, you can easily produce far more than you need in the process of trying to live self-sustainably.

By the way, having a lot of chickens means I never run out of eggs in the lean winter months, either, when they aren’t all laying. It’s similar to the way I will pack the freezer with milk and butter to get through the winter when BP is dried off awaiting the next birth. Planning so that I’m never out of milk and eggs goes hand in hand with sometimes having too much.

I use milk in every way I can–cheese, butter, cream, ice cream, etc. If you can make it out of milk, I make it! And then I have to remember that it’s not really wasteful to share it with the animals when there’s excess. I also share cheeses, eggs, and so on with family, just as I share canning or bags of herbs or other garden goodies. One of the side benefits of producing for yourself is being able to share. Even as winter is over, I still have canned and frozen fruits and vegetables. I haven’t run out of my dried herbs from last year before I have fresh herbs again. The new season of abundance is upon us, and we haven’t yet run through all of last year’s store.

I’ll never make absolutely everything we use–that’s almost impossible. Even in the old days, they would trade what they had for what they didn’t have, exchanging with someone else who grew or raised or made what they didn’t. Living in a self-sustainable mindset doesn’t mean you have to make or grow or raise everything. In fact, no matter where you are, you can live in a more self-sustainable way. Start with baking a loaf of bread. You don’t have to go to the extreme of living on a farm or getting a cow to pursue a more organic relationship with your food.

Dilly Bread, except without the dilly. I used fresh oregano and chives instead of dried dill.

Other than the episode of the pigs, the main vacuum in our more “extreme” course of self-sustainability has been producing our own meat. As I plan BP’s upcoming “romantic encounter” and the next calf, I know that will change. Glory Bee is the heir to the dairy crown here. Subsequent calves will serve a different purpose. One good calf a year, raised to butcher, will provide us all the beef we need. We will probably do pigs again, though we haven’t yet. (Not sure if we will do it this year or not. We have no piglets at the moment.) We have never eaten any of our chickens, but I have regularly contemplated buying some chicks specifically for butchering. A batch of heavy-breed meat chicks can be ready to butcher in a few months. Meat birds are a short-term project. I buy chicken at the store. And THAT doesn’t make sense. It’s important to remember that the chicken at the store didn’t come into this world pre-packaged.

Yesterday, I ordered a batch of meat chicks!

I’m so excited! I can’t wait to taste my fresh home-grown fried chicken. Right after 52 puts them in styrofoam packages!!!! Oh wait…. FYI, they are ALL ROOSTERS. They sell meat chicks in rooster packs. They grow faster and bigger. And there’s not much else to do with them anyway…..

It takes a number of years to start a farm from scratch and become self-sustainable on numerous levels. We’re still growing our fruit trees and bushes, for example. But it’s easy to see how farmers, even in the Depression era, were living “high on the hog” (literally) even in a time of economic hardship. The same is true today. And while you can’t put the hens on hiatus when you have too many eggs, or cut a cow in half when you have too much milk, it’s better to have too much than not enough. My father grew up on a farm in West Virginia (a hop, skip, and a jump from our farm now) in the Depression, and he remembers it this way: “We had chickens, cows, geese, ducks, guineas, turkeys, sheep, and hogs. We raised a garden and canned a cellarful of fruit and vegetables every summer. With hogs to kill every fall and all of the eggs and milk we could use, we never wanted for anything.”

Now that’s living!


  1. MousE says:

    One day I hope to live as you do, Suzanne! And I love the easter eggs. Perty.

  2. Sheila Z says:

    Raise the pigs now while you can convert all that extra eggs and milk into meat without buying much feed. You can always sell or barter the extra pig if you end up with too much meat. The meat birds will love some hard boiled eggs. The extra protein will keep their legs from giving out while they make that rapid growth.

  3. doxie says:

    I don’t know if you have heard of this or not, but thining your milk down with water and using it to water your garden and trees….even hay field will help them grow! You don’t have to do it all the time either, just a couple times a year will help a lot. We fed some trees last year and they grew more than they ever did before, it was amazing! I’m so excited to see how they do this summer…as we water them again, with our extra milk! ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Granny Trace says:

    :sun: We have another order of meat chickens coming May30. This will be our fourth time raising them. Its alot of work but worth every bit.
    Granny Trace

  5. aprilejoi says:

    I am soo excited to hear your progress with the meat birds. I am raising my first efforts now, they are 5 weeks old. Keep us posted and good luck!

  6. KarenAnne says:

    Whatever happened to the crotchety neighbor? I bet she and her kids could use some of the excess.

  7. CasieD says:

    We have a batch of 33 meat chickens (broilers, cornish cross) right now that are 5 weeks old as well. I just made the appointment with the meat locker to have them butchered at 8 weeks old. We don’t try the butchering ourselves. My DH did it as a child and said there was no way he would be plucking chickens again! It’s around $3/chicken to have them butchered/cleaned/vacuum packed. I think that’s pretty good. They are the best tasting chickens!

    I’d like the hear more about the ornery neighbor again too!

  8. Farm Gal says:

    Okay, here is my ethics question I always ask when feeding excess and left overs to my animals….Is it wrong to feed your chickens left over hard boiled eggs and cooked chicken? :sun:

  9. themandabear says:

    Good Luck Suzanne!

    I always feel that since I eat meat I really should have a go at raising my own meat, because I love animals and I feel it’s hypocritical of me to eat meat but not be able to raise animals for meat. I can’t do it where I am now, and I always wonder how I’d go with it…I always have such trouble killing things and I get attached to anything. I admire people who can raise their own meat. It’s the only way to truely know exactly how the animal lived and died. Do keep us updated ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. holstein woman says:

    Suzanne you are having the same problem I have sometimes. The reason I originally got my first cow was to raise calves on her. Then everything escalated and now I have 4 cows and sell milk, cream, butter, etc. But I still raise calves on the milk also. The calves are dairy bull calves from a local dairy that sells them for $30.00 each. When they are weaned we sell them to others. It is a good small income and might be a way to use some of your milk. The calves drink about 1/2 gallon per milking. Then there is the dehorning and the casterating. It is just a suggestion, but would make you a little more income. We keep our calves about 3 months, but with grain you can wean in 2 months and sell.
    May I suggest also that you not get Jersey bull calves as they are VERY HARD STARTING and you can lose them in the first couple of weeks from pneumonia etc. I’m sorry if this needs to be flagged, it is only a suggestion.

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      holstein woman, I wouldn’t think your comment needs to be flagged, don’t worry about making suggestions! I’m probably not interested in raising calves like that, at least not right now, but that’s mostly because I don’t think I want to put more on my plate (more animals to deal with).

  11. herbalcat says:

    I am getting my grandson to raise my meat birds this year! Lol! I can’t do it (too much of a softy as of yet!). He is in 4-H and has done it for one of his project already, so it doesn’t bother him. Thank you, Jacob! Lol!

  12. rurification says:

    Love this post! You’ve assuaged some of my ‘abundance guilt’. Thank you!

  13. joykenn says:

    Extra eggs. One good use is egg noodles which can either be dried or frozen. Extra eggs and milk–food pantries would probably love to get the extra protein. Do you have one in your area? If so, you can know that your abundance is helping to get healthy food to hungry people. Given all the people out of work and hurting in this economy food pantries everywhere have more folks than they can provide food for. Fresh eggs and milk, fresh fruits and veggies are always incredibly appreciated. Lots of folks with home gardens in our suburban area who don’t have time or inclination to can or dry donate every week. Food pantries get dented cans and old bread etc. but fresh food without a lot of salt and preservatives are hard to come by. Consider sharing through food pantries or through your church. Usually pastors know people who are having a tough time and a basket of fresh food can mean a tank of gas to get to work or to the doctors.

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      joykenn, in most states, it’s illegal to provide raw or even pasteurized milk from your family cow to anyone, including by donation. There are also regulations on sharing eggs that vary state by state. Unfortunately, it’s just not easy to share. Or even legal.

  14. Ramona Slocum says:

    Growing up on the farm and then marrying a farmer, we have raised every animal you mentioned. Our city relatives always said they csme to the farm to eat because it didn’t cost anything on the farm. We raised everything and it was free. We still laugh about that train of thought. It was a lot of work, but we never did go hungry. We would raise 300-400 meaty chickens and sell them in town and to our neighbors. We also butchered them our selves. We never ran out of things to do on the farm. Our kids also leaned how to work. They have a very strong work ethic yet today. I LOVE THE FARM. I am still on the farm yet, even tho my kids and husband are gone. The 4 children have moved on to their own lives and my husband has pasted on. I love your chickensintheroad site Suzanne. I live your dream everyday through the computer. Thank you.
    MN Mona

  15. TinaBell says:

    Wow, Suzanne! You are truly blessed. What a lovely opportunity to share. Too bad you can’t just donate your excess to shelters and whatnot…I think the suggestion about asking a local pastor is a good one. Years ago when my ex-husband got laid-off our old church home did a “food pound” and anonymously supplied our family with several bags of groceries. Still brings tears to my eyes to remember their generosity and good will.
    Abundance is certainly a reason to be grateful! Reminds me I need to harvest herbs already and Give Some Away! :happyflower:

  16. Cowgirl Jules says:

    I’m in the middle of processing my first batch of meaties. I do them a couple at a time since I don’t have a plucker and it gets hard on my back. Mine were straight run. I bought Freedom Rangers instead of Cornish X. They take a little longer to come to market weight, but they’re huge when they do. The breasts aren’t quite so big, and the legs are great. I did lose some to heart issues, which I believe is also a problem with the Cornish X.

  17. msmitoagain says:

    If it came down to having too, I guess I would raise animals for food. But, right now can’t do it.

  18. roosterrun says:

    Suzanne, I do wish you lived next door. First, you could teach me how to make cheese. Second, with all of my fruit and your dairy we could make some serious pies and ice cream. We could trade herbs and produce and no one would be any the wiser about it. It would be great! I do have chickens, but I can’t use them for meat. Been there, tried it, they are still in the freezer, if I try to use it the kids ask if that is(what ever the names were). I just can’t do it. I should learn not to let them name the birds. It might be easier but they have such personalities. Good luck with yours.

  19. Barbee says:

    This might not interest you, Suzanne, but it might help a reader. Some states where it is illegal to sell or share fresh milk have no restrictions on it if the milk is cooked in another product and then sold or shared. An example I have seen to work for someone is fudge, they sell several flavors of fudge at their little store.

  20. Debbie @ Swampbilly Ranch says:


    We usually raise our own beef also. I don’t currently have any cows, but I have a frezer full of meat. We have also done pigs, but we don’t eat as much pork.

    My grandson raises chickens and then we sell them. I have never eaten any of our own chickens only because I am too lazy to clean them. I will have to check with our butcher to see if he processes chickens like CasieD talked about. I would love to be able to eat chicken that I know is fresh and hormone free.

    As long as I know from the beginning that an animal is for food, and not to get attached, I don’t.

    You will do great with the calves. And the beef is so much better, you will never go back to store bought.

  21. ChikeeMomma says:

    I raise meat chickens. Cornish Crosses to be exact. I really enjoy it! They are such a friendly breed! This is my third year doing it and I love it! We do take ours to the Amish to have them butchered. They only charge $1.25 per bird. Then I bring them home and put them on ice for a few days and do them up in the FoodSaver and in the freezer they go. They taste so much better than the grocery store birds!

    Good luck Suzanne! You’ll do a great job with them, I’m sure!

  22. Carolina says:

    Springtime is such a welcome time when it comes to chickens and eggs. We just finished a new coop for our small urban flock and added four new chicks to the mix. After years of using a converted dog kennel with roof for our coop, it’s nice to have something that will be easier in cold weather and, well, is kinda cute! Photo of the coop is here:

  23. whaledancer says:

    I’m wondering what your thoughts are about raising capons for meat from your own chickens’ eggs, either by incubating or letting them go broody? Aren’t many of your chickens “mixed use” varieties? I know there must be an advantage in buying chicks or you wouldn’t have done it that way; could you explain it to us who aren’t chicken literate?

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      whaledancer, a couple reasons. One is that I have a wide mix of breeds. Not all are of the heavier breeds, which make the best meat birds (if you’re looking for more weight). Most of my chickens are hens, and any hatching would likely have half hens. Hens lay eggs–they have another job. You don’t need that many roosters to do the only job they do….. Roosters grow faster and bigger than hens, so I wanted a full batch of roosters. And possibly most importantly, I wanted chickens that were specific to the purpose so I can take the appropriate perspective on them from day one. While I have plans for BP’s future calves, I couldn’t suddenly turn around and butcher Glory Bee, you know? I allowed myself to have a different sort of relationship with her based on her future. I feel that way about my chickens, too. I could never see eating one of my beloved chickens. But when these roosters come, I will know from the start what they are here for. Hopefully, that’ll help!

  24. country gram says:

    I must get busy and order some meat birds….I haven’t got a separate place to grow them out so have to figure that out first.

    They will have to be separate from the hens and rooster.

    What sort of place have you all arranged for yours?

    We did it years ago and haven’t really had great tasting chicken since! There is just no comparison to home raised.

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      country gram, they’ll be in the house in the brooder at first then they’ll go to the chicken house/yard. I don’t keep other roosters in there, just some of the hens. If I need to, I’ll let some of the hens out for a few weeks. It will be just a short period of time then the chicken house will be back to hen business as usual.

  25. CarrieJ says:

    And THIS post is why I am looking at buying 5 acres and trying it myself. Going to keep my full time job plus the 10 hour commute each week for as long as I have to. And when everything gets to be too much, the job is going to go.

  26. CarrieJ says:

    I buy two turkeys a year from a lady who does a farm co-op. It is the best tasting turkey I have ever had. I roast the bones and use up every little crumb to make stock, etc. She said it is the “cadillac” of turkeys and she wasn’t kidding. I have a Butterball turkey in my deepfreeze that I bought last year and haven’t done anything with yet, because I know that I will be disappointed!

  27. brookdale says:

    Are you feeding Glory Bee milk from a pail now that she is separated from her mother? Just wondering. I seem to remember that’s what my grandfather did with the calves he was weaning, not sure though, it was a long time ago!
    The best of luck to you with the weaning and the meat birds. You are brave to take all of this on, along with all the other responsibilities you have!

  28. Mariah says:

    We live in a suburban area of San Francisco and recently moved into a town home. My dream of owning chickens and planting a garden will have to wait yet longer, so I continue to live vicariously through you! I have mint and parsley in pots and I’m planning lots more herbs and some tomatoes and strawberries in pots. How about cucs and peppers in pots? I’ll have to research that… Speaking of Glory Bee making herself hoarse (another post I think…I read several before coming back here to comment), my cat loses her voice when we go out of town. She must meow constantly when we’re gone. She cries at night if she gets closed out of the bedroom and she’s thinks she’s alone, so I can only imagine what’s she’s like when we’re gone for a couple of days! She must get lonely! Poor GB…she’ll be a better woman for it though! It’s time to grow up! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  29. countrydreams64 says:

    Do you have your hens and roosters all mingling together? In other words, do you eat your fertilized eggs? I’m sure you probably do. I want a rooster but have a little bit of a mental block thinking about eating fertilized eggs. But from reading, they say all it is, is a few extra cells in the eggs. Did you ever have any issues with this?

  30. Izzy says:

    Hi Suzanne, Just curious as to what happened to the piglets you had as I haven’t seen any posts about them since you got them.

  31. Puma45 says:

    Suzanne, is there a way to change my password once I’ve registered? I will NEVER be able to remember the password assigned to me!

  32. themandabear says:

    Oh Suzanna, I had another couple of questions.

    Did you get someone to kill/process the pigs for you? Will you do that with the cows and chickens?

    I think either way is good, I’m just curious!

    And did it help you not get attached to the pigs by knowing what they were there for from the very beginning? Like you are going to do with the future calves and roosters?

    Just, as I said earlier, I get attached to anything I have to look after, so am trying to work out if I was ever in a position to raise my own meat if I’d be able to make it easier on myself if I avoided doing more than I had to with them and knowing that’s what they were there for from the beginning ๐Ÿ™‚

    It is something I’m interested in trying some day, I just hate not really knowing where my meat comes from, face it the supermarkets can call it what they want but we never know for sure how it was treated when it was alive ๐Ÿ™

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      themandabear, we had help with the pigs, though we were there. Well, =I= wasn’t there when they were killed, but I was there when they were being butchered. (I was morbidly slightly interested.) It did help me a lot knowing the pigs’ fate from the beginning. That’s why I’m getting a batch of chickens specifically for this purpose. Re butchering the chickens, I think I’m willing to try one time to do it ourselves. I found a good butcher, though, and am also willing/interested in having them done that way. I’m definitely going to have BP’s future offspring done by a butcher. I learned from the experience with the pigs (and if we had pigs again, I’d have them done by a butcher). Properly cutting up the meat and so on needs some expertise.

  33. Lindsay says:

    Ya’ll are brave! Some days I think I’d be fine with raising meat, but most days I think I’d be sad when their time came. Well, plus we need extra storage space, etc. Good for you taking the next step though, Suzanne. I wonder, will you maybe discuss your experience when it happens?

  34. Mikey says:

    We’ve recently raised our own beef and I’m loving it. I don’t trust what we get in the store, and I appreciate knowing exactly what I fed, and knowing that I gave this animal a good life. In return it provides for our family, especially important in these tough times. I haven’t had to buy beef for a year now, and the next calf is here and scheduled to butcher in December. I found a fabulous butcher who comes to the house, kills, skins out and then takes the beef to hang. Two weeks later he delivers it back, all wrapped up. For a couple hundred bucks, it’s more than worth it.
    I would love to do chickens, but the coyotes here are ridiculous. We get plenty from neighbors anyway, who like you are swimming in eggs. I have 4 dozen in the fridge right now, lol. I love that we share as a community.
    As always, love your blog, love to tune in and see what you’re up to now. It’s been great watching your farm grow.

  35. Angela P says:

    Isnt it great? All that we have been blessed with living on a farm…
    I tried raising the heavy meat variety, I had the hardest time getting the “meat” off the bones…stuck on their like glue. Anybody else have this situation??? I have raised the Cornish Cross and am doing so again this spring. Congrats to you Suzanne, I know this is a big step for you. You do love your chickens! Its not the easiet thing to do, processing animals. I take mine to a processor… I always give thanks to the animal(s) for what they have given. In some weird way, it helps.

Add Your Thoughts