The Farm at Mollies Branch

  (Todd, North Carolina)
A no-kill farm and garden
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Roasted Rooster

After two weeks of abnormally cold weather, we have a beautiful day to work on the farm. The hens have grown broody, ready to sit on the green, pink, brown eggs for the 21-days it takes to make new diddles (chicks). The roosters, beautiful with their colorful feathers and long tail feathers, are full of themselves, strutting about as if in charge until they meet other roosters feeling the same. That's when I think Roasted Rooster, since a fellow farmer down the road has a rooster roast each Spring to take care of her extra male chickens. Living on a no-kill farm, I always have too many roosters and wonder at my resolve not to eat my chickens when the roosters start fighting among themselves. We're not talking a little bickering here, but full-blown to-the-death duals. I've come upon roosters with heads so bloodied that their eyes couldn't open for the dried blood. Gentle washing with slightly warm water will often relieve that blindness, but other times I fear their eyes have been pecked from their sockets. It's then that I gather up my roosters and vow to give them all to someone who will probably roast them or use them for illegal cock fighting. I never keep this resolve since it hurts my soul; instead I find them safe homes one by one--which is a daunting task. Today, I go to the barnyard, elated at the weather but wondering about how humane it is keep more than one or two roosters. Yet, I am comforted knowing what a wonderful life all my chickens have, wandering the farm finding bugs, worms and the beautiful green grass soon to come.


Corn Pudding and other Dilemmas

'Tis the day after Christmas; a day I am spending reflecting and planning. Family arrived yesterday, and we ate a meal of plenty followed by conversation and laughter. When they left, I felt content as I sat by the fire and opened up days worth of e-mail and taking the time to watch (again) the documentary Genetic Roulette.

Though I love corn, my resolve to not make corn pudding for Christmas dinner was validated. Genetically modified corn makes up 88 percent of the crop grown in the United States today, though Europe has banned all GMO products. Knowing the dangers of such DNA-disruptive food, I would have had to pass the corn with the disclaimer: toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer.  

 Our food industry, ruled by unethical corporations, has been so polluted that we can no longer trust the products they sell. Their henchmen have turned out to be the government (politicians) and educational institutions--the very ones who should have been watching to make sure our food is safe and broadcasting the dangers of genetically-engineered, DNA-altered foods.

Today, I am planning my GMO-free garden of healthy foods that have wellness-wow. For the seeds I have not saved, I will turn to sources I can trust to provide organic or heirloom seeds or starts. Please join me in keeping family food safe.


Love Isn't Enough

Anyone who loves animals and has lived on a farm with them knows that the cycle of life comes around all too often. That was the case a few days ago when my dear four-year-old llama JoJo came into his stall. For the past several months, I made sure that he had his share of grain and hay; that he was able to eat it without pain.

He would let me rub the large lump on the right side of his neck, tend to the grotesque, odorous mass on his gums and palate, and lay his head gently against my shoulder as if to assure  me "It will be alright."  For two days now, I had softened an alfalfa cube in water for a treat. A neighbor recently visited him when I wasn't home and e-mailed to ask if it was OK to give him canned peaches; I'm not sure if she did, but JoJo and I were glad she didn't shun him like some people and llamas had understandably come to do. To look at him, I still saw beauty; those who had not known him in the best of days could only see the bulging raw mass and pus and smell of the decay of flesh.

I had asked veterinarian John Lang to make a farm call to check on JoJo. His experience with llamas, especially when they need anesthesia, has made me trust his judgment. After unsuccessfully treating JoJo's "infection," I had called Dr. Lang for his advice. With one look, he knew:  JoJo had squameous cell cancer, a diagnosis he confirmed with a biopsy. Although he knew of no treatment, John did research and took the extra step of calling a veterinarian oncologist to see if new developments could help JoJo. All-in-all, we decided to let JoJo enjoy his life until pain or circumstances called for other measures.

Now decision time had arrived.  Though not appearing in pain, JoJo rarely  strayed far from the barn. The mass on his gum had spread across his palate and onto the opposite gum. Eating was becoming difficult and his right eye sometimes ran with a thick yellow excrement. Still, I had hope that an excision of the largest part of the mass would allow him to live comfortably a bit longer. 

Within moments, Dr. Lang knew; I knew. JoJo had to be released from this life; he must be freed from his body and given the joy of running with his llama buddies who had gone before. Sometimes, love is not enough to stop the ravages of disease.

JoJo, I miss you; I will always love you.



Stories from The Farm at Mollies Branch

The Farm at Mollies Branch, a no-kill farm in the mountains of North Carolina, has brought one magical experience after another to my life. Some days are mystical, others are joyful. Heart-breaking moments come and go, always leaving a lesson for me to ponder.  

If you would like to follow my adventures on the farm, please do. Also, check out The Farm at Mollies Branch on Facebook:!/pages/The-Farm-at-Mollies-Branch/365931220906


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