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Notes from the Farm -23

Posted 3/19/2008 12:24pm by Leaf Myczack.

This is our fourth year for raising baby chicks, who will over the Spring and Summer, mature into the future laying hens for our small diversified heritage breed flock. These early chicks were bought from a hatchery source when they were day old "peeps." They are now a week old and doing quite well under the watchful eyes and ears of our family members.

The purpose of buying "hatchery stock" is twofold; to obtain pure bred pullets to replace their aging grandmothers, and to obtain a breed of hen well noted for brooding and raising their young. (Not all hens are capable of becoming broody mothers). Through natural selection and careful breeding, we are creating two flocks of laying hens that will hopefully lay more eggs in the Wintertime, (our hardest time of year to meet egg customer demand), without our resorting to forced, artificial, or un-natural measures. 

The chicks are fed a blend of grains, legumes and seaweed (for trace minerals) that we mix and grind ourselves. We avoid commercial "chick starters" since they often contain antibiotics, toxic compounds and growth hormones. We want our chickens to grow at a natural rate, using their own immune system to ward off chicken illnesses and diseases. Our success rate is unblemished with a 100% survival rate over the years. We take great pride in our holistic, nature-based, humane approach to raising chickens. Customers consistently praise the quality and taste of the eggs we sell.

Our relationship with our non-human farm members is based on respect for all of life, kindness to the least among us, and gratitude that they provide us with a means for making a modest, but richly rewarding living. We take the well being of our soil, ponds, trees, plants, chickens, and bees quite seriously. In this way we honor the spirit of life of which we are a part.

Contrast this approach to a recent news article announcing the recall of 143 million pounds of beef, because sick and down animals were forced into the slaughtering pens at California based Westland /Hallmark Meat Co. When I first heard the story, I was sickened by the implications of the recall. Assuming that these cows dressed out at 500 lbs. (a generous assumption) and 100 lbs. were diverted to non-ground beef products, the remaining 400 lbs. of ground beef per cow would represent about 357,500 cows. It is nearly impossible for me to comprehend the scope of this livestock mis-management disaster.

The sheer volume of wastefullness boggles the mind. It is about a lot more than just a loss of ground meat product for Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. It represents farm families, their labor, their land, water, pasture grasses, hay, barns, fences, soil, tractors, trucks, brood cows, calves, fertilizers, seed, etc. From a sustainablility viewpoint, it is a disaster of catastrophic magnitude. And within the current industrial agricultural paradigm, it is inevitable that these kinds of disasters keep occurring.

We are what we eat, and when we abuse and defile our living food supply, we lessen ourselves, imperile our personal health, and destroy the bonds that create a balance between the human and non-human families in the circle of life. When humans raise animals for food in sickening conditions, it follows that humans will become sick as a result. It is for this reason that we mostly eat the food grown here at the farm. We know it was raised under the best of conditions and in the healthiest manner possible. It is this same food we offer to our customers so that they too can live well.

 

-farmer leaf