The inaugural launch of our (Joel) Salatin style pastured poultry pontoon occurred in mid-August of this year. Typically, broilers are done in the Spring when the grass is growing fast and the temps are warming nicely. But, since we didn’t move onto the homestead until May and were busy setting up 4 pastured pigs and 15 pretty much feral layers, we didn’t get to raising 26 Cornish Cross until fall.
In early August, the pasture was so tall and crispy that I lay awake at night fearing becoming enveloped in a grass fire. So, I busied myself mowing the 3 foot fescue and setting up a sprinkler system to green things up. Meanwhile, Gwen penciled out the plan on the calendar and made sure that processing equipment was rented, organic grain was sourced locally, and the birds were shipped on time from Iowa.
Now, chicken is tasty. Everyone likes it. Especially, other animals. So, the number one infrastructure necessary is for protection.
Enter the Yellow Submarine. Built out of dimensional lumber, screws, roofing, and wire, this ship is meant to set sail on fields-o-green and find a new port every day or two. It is 10′ x 10′ x 2.5′ and set up to be skidded (we ended up putting wheels on one end for greater ease of transport).
Since we both work full-time, the system needed to be as efficient as possible. So, integrated into the design was ease of watering and supplementary feeding. We intalled 4″ PVC drainpipe for pouring dry feed into from outside. And we ordered a nifty counter-balanced bell-shape waterer plumbed from a 5 gallon bucket that sat atop the structure.
I ain’t gonna lie and say it was all that easy. Let’s just say we didn’t need to swing around any kettlebells after pulling this beast around daily! There were plenty under-caffeinated mornings where the hose didn’t quite reach and the wet grass soaked the bottoms of your office pants. But, in the end, after a couple hours on the Romertopf in the hickory smoke saturated ceramic dome grill, the delicacy that adorned our dining table was soooooo much better than anything you will find in the store! (21 of the 26 ended up adorning friend’s tables as well).
And next Spring, thanks to all the extra Nitrogen, our pasture will be just that much greener and tastier for the next batch.