We are a humane farm; our animals almost run the place. However, sometimes there is mortality. With each loss we've had on the farm it has been hard on me and I take them all personally even though I know I shouldn't. You don't take responsibility for the health and welfare of an animal and not take it personally when it dies. At least I don't. We learn and make sure if it’s controllable it doesn't happen again, we try our best to be good stewards and shepherds. This is one thing that coming from the city actually works against me. If I grew up on a farm my bet is I'd have a better handle on the whole mortality thing. I have to get over this though; if we are going to succeed I am going to have to get over this hurdle. Think and say what you will about my manliness and machismo, it’s just how I'm wired. If you are going to raise an animal organically you are going to spend a lot of time looking out for its well being. This equates to spending a lot of time with the animal, observing them and watching for signs of illness, distress, infestation, injury and overall environmental health.
As we thought over twenty years ago death on a farm is inevitable and it is a hard burden for us to bare. I guess that’s why it took us so long before we added chickens to the mix. I'm ok with vegetables passing away; it seems natural to me. This is the first time that I found growing up in the city was an impediment to what we do here. I'm not naive I saw horrible violent things by accident living in the city. I worked in a hospital for over ten years; I saw the grief people went through. I saw more than one person die in front of my eyes. Within the last two years both of my parents have passed. I've had more loved ones than I care to count leave this earth. I am just not good with death, as natural as it is and as much as it is part of the whole life cycle I am not good with mortality.
I have no problem going to the local butcher and getting my meat and pork. I see the cows, pigs and chickens in the field. I know where my meat comes from, how it is raised and processed. I've had numerous blind taste tests with family, friends, clients and students. More than 90 percent pick the local product, whether it is eggs, bacon, steak, hamburger, cucumbers, tomatoes or whatever. I know that we are getting the safest, tastiest, freshest products anywhere.
Does this mean I will be vegetarian or vegan? No, this is the paradox that is my life. I love to cook and grow vegetables. Now, we have our potential role in providing fresh poultry to our community as part of the sustainability model. It is one of the more profitable functions on a farm.
Free range, organic poultry is in great demand and it is a low cost, low maintenance activity. You get day old chicks, raise them for sixteen weeks and process them. Raise them humanely, free of stress and in an open environment and you’ve given them the best life that can be hoped for. Add to that we would use Rhode Island Reds because they are a recovering species and we are furthering sustainable agriculture.
Seven years we've been talking about this, 2555 days. Seven years we've been deciding not to raise poultry for meat. We are not making enough money to be profitable. Five out of the seven years we have shown a loss and this is with out expensing our time as labor. Meat chickens add a degree of stability and profitability that we have not achieved yet from vegetables, berries, jams, bread and cooking classes. It is that simple, yet for us there has been nothing simple about the decision. As natural as death is on a farm it is still creates a paradox for me.
Buy Local - from a farmer not a chain that advertises "Local"