Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Lockhart Family Farm Chicken


I recently bought a chicken. It wasn't any chicken and this certainly wasn't the first time I have bought a chicken, however, I do believe this was the first time I bought one after meeting the bird. I remember on my visit to get the pig, standing in the kitchen at Lockhart Family Farm eating an apple. After I finished the apple, my natural tendency was to find a compost bin, so I asked Jocelyn where that was and she said to just go outside and toss it in with the chickens, that they love apples — silly me. I walked straight outside, tossed it to the chickens and watched them go at it for a few minutes until the apple core was quickly devoured. That is when I met this chicken (well not this chicken but you get the idea), a plymouth barred rock hen.

Photo Credit: uconnladybug

Fast forward 2 months to when Josiah called to let me know they were processing their first batch of chickens and wanted to know if I had an interest. My response, does a rooster crow when the sun comes up? Technically a rooster crows all the time — even when the sun comes up.

I was excited to once again support a local farm and buy an animal that was raised, cared for and processed with outmost care. After cooking with the bird, I wanted to share some of my initial thoughts and takeaways from trying this type of chicken.

Farm chicken on the left and store bought on the right

I must note that this chicken was raised for a full 20 weeks before it was processed on the farm. Some chickens in factory farms are grown and brought to market within 5-6 weeks. After my chicken was processed, all 4 pounds 2 ounces of it was hand delivered. As noted, I of course have bought a whole chicken before but never outside of a grocery store. Now I have bought organic, free range and humanely raised but again not outside of a grocery. So what differences were there from what I had bought in the past? Here are a few observations:
  • The skin seemed more white than yellow. Was this the breed, the diet, or the processing?
  • There were still a few, albeit minimal little feathers left in the skin (you can see the tiny specks in the picture above). 
  • The chicken felt like a large muscle — no flabbiness or soft spots.
  • This bird was long and lean, not plump and round.
  • Where are the boobs — ahem, breasts? This chicken really did not have a defined plump large breast.
  • The legs — look at the size of those legs!
I'm certainly not an expert in the raising of chickens, but I do feel there are some valid (and common sense) points that can be made to a few of the notes I made above. Mainly relating to the size and structure, this bird was probably longer and leaner since it had the ability to roam all day, outside of a cage or confined space. This in turn builds muscle, hence the larger legs. These birds are also not bred or genetically modified to garner large breasts like your run of the mill mass produced chickens. You kind of get what you get, based on the activity and feed of the bird. Certainly something I can live with.

Most importantly — how did it cook and taste? I feel like the bird cooked in less time and the taste was very good. The meat was sweet and definitely did not produce a lot of grease. This was a very lean bird with lots of dark meat. Although a smaller breast, the meat made for perfect chicken salad the following day.

So, I am sticking with the mantra of this blog and will continue to explore supporting local, organic, and ethically raised animals and vegetables from people I know. I feel it is better for my family, the local economy and our environment.

Speaking of supporting local farmers, there is still time to take advantage of the Origins Farm CSA January Early Bird Discount. It may not feel like it, but before you know it spring will have sprung and you will be at the market!

E.A.T. local E.A.T well

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for your comments... they are pretty in line with what our other reviewers said. Small breast, big legs was always expected with a slow growing non intensive breed.

    Yellow Skin is the breed. Like humans, chickens come in a variety of skin shades. We have 11 more from this test batch that are further on in age than the one you had. They will be our last till the end of Feb when our regular production birds will be ready and hopefully for sale at Harvest Grocery and Supply in the Fan!

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  2. I always heard that the yellowish skin is a result of chickens eating marigolds? and that (just like yellow cheddar cheese) well treated chickens were allowed to pasture and eat marigolds if they pleased, so the yellowing became a sign of healthy and the factories kinda went overboard with it and now its a staple in their diet to force that bright coloring

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