Many people consider laying chickens “the gateway livestock.” First you raise some chickens for eggs, pretty soon you get a few meat birds, next you have a goat, sheep, or pigs, then before you know it you are raising a milk cow too. We have had laying chickens for about 6 years now and this spring decided to take the next step and raise some meat birds. For us, raising chickens for meat meant another step towards self-sufficiency and a feeling of pride in being able to raise healthy, fresh food for our family. But with raising more food, you are faced with the responsibility of preserving that food. Up until this point I had mostly stuck to canning, dehydrating, fermenting, and selling fruits and vegetables from our farmette. I would freeze a few things that could fit in our plain old freezer above our refrigerator, but the prospect of stuffing it full of the chickens we were raising was out of the question. There wasn’t enough room.
A few months ago we finally went out and bought a deep freeze. Pretty soon, some of the stuff I usually can was going in the freezer, along with the meat birds. We stuck the chest freezer in an out-of-the-way corner in our basement and before you know it, we had filled it up!
One of the reasons I had never bought a freezer up to this point was because I had always been skeptical of depending on the electricity to keep running. It is not uncommon for the power to go out, sometimes for days on end. If you have solar power, or a back up generator, you can usually get by. But what happens when the thing just craps out!? Yes this is how this story ends. The brand new deep freeze, loaded to the gills, just stopped working. I’m still sick over it really. There is nothing worse than waste. And seeing your time and effort go into the compost pile is just plain sad. At this point I am looking at this as a lesson learned. Here is what I learned:
Realize the potential worse case scenario with freezing your produce–it can thaw and spoil. Have a back-up power source in case of power outage, or an alarm that tells you your freezer is out. An alarm will work independent of the freezer itself, so that if it breaks down, you will be notified.
Make sure your freezer is somewhere you can check it on regularly. I had not been down to mine since I put edamame in it a week before. So it took less than a week for the contents to totally spoil at room temperature. If I had it someplace that I walk by regularly, I probably would have noticed it.
Figure out ways to diversify your preservation methods. Canning, dehydrating, curing, andfermenting are possibilities for not only fruits and veggies but also for meats.
So now I have to make a trip to SEARS and give them hell about their faulty product. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
By Emma O’Connell, founder of Pick-A-Pepper.com
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