Time is flying by! Ironic, because all of my chickens cannot fly. The chickens on farm start out as cute little fuzz balls. They are excited with their new world, they are curious, and they are always hungry. The only thing that stays the same when they get older is that they are always hungry.
By the time the birds are ready to become dinner they are big, and they are dumb. Now, you might think I am mean calling my chickens dumb, but let me explain. There are some highly intelligent breeds of chickens out there. There are definitely some that make great pets, can recognize you, learn routine, and are down-right lovable. My birds are none of these things.
Every day I move the chicken tractors twice. Once in the morning, and once in the evening. I have a routine that involves cutting the grass, moving the birds, filling their water, filling their feed, and hooking up their protective electric fence. You would think that with moving twice daily the birds would be excited and run to the fresh areas of grass. Not the case. Every day I have to be very careful that no birds get caught under the back of the chicken tractor when I move it. Otherwise they get hurt. It can be infuriating to watch the bird walk the wrong way against the tractor, when it knows darn well that it’s moving to a good place. Once they get warmed up to the fact that they are moving they are happy to run to the new grass area.
There is a saying among farmers about cornish-rock-crosses (my breed of chickens) that, “They do two things. Eat, and look for ways to die.” Keeping them alive is a feat in and of itself. Between health issues and predators these birds have very few things going for them survival-wise. However, I raise my birds on pasture which solves most if not all of the health issues, and (knock on wood) I have built the Fort Knox of chicken tractors so that solves the predator issues.
It has been great to see the birds being raised out on pasture. I have witnessed them eating grass hoppers, gnats, and crickets. Also, wherever there is an ant hill, when I move the chicken tractor I notice the ground where the ants used to live is all scratched up.
Now, I had two motivations with this post. To point out that the way I raise chickens is super healthy, and to downplay how lovable the chickens are when they get older. I can honestly say that I love all my birds. It makes me really happy to see them thriving out on grass, and I look forward to seeing them every day. On that same note, I am looking forward to when they will become dinner.
It is important that my chickens, and on that note all “consumable animals” live happy and healthy lives. They serve a part of the food chain that is necessary for us. Humans evolved to eat meat. But just because they are lower on the food chain than us, doesn’t mean they do not deserve our respect.
(the meat-eater vs. vegetarian debate will be reserved for a different blog post)
Having a connection with your food is important. With all the shenanigans that our modern day food system allows, you really never know what you are getting. It pays to know who your farmer is. I eat meat, and if you’re a customer of mine I guess you do too. As an eater of meat I feel a responsibility to make sure that the product that I am consuming is not only the best it can be for me, but for the life of that animal too. That is why I do what I do. I want to eat good food, and I want to be able to provide it for others.
I wanted to downplay the birds a little bit in case you were feeling bad about eating something cute. They have grown out of being something cute by a long shot.
Thanks for taking the time to read the blog. In case you missed it here’s a great recipe for a whole roasted chicken from one of my CSA members. I have had it, it is awesome.
I promise the keep the food politics chatter to a minimum on the blog. I sort of cannot help it. My farm and my family are a necessary part of the Slow Food movement. Whether you are a die-hard foodie or just someone that wants tasty chicken I will do my best to provide the protein and the story to go along with it.