food, farming, friends and family: a meditation on chosen simplicity and (in)voluntary complications – life.

Plant and Animal Updates

A morning tour of our Douglas Ave homestead…

Chicken Tractor for the Broiler Hens (AKA “meat birds”).  You can’t see the wheels in this picture, but we move this portable coop around each night to give the hens more grass to pick through and quickly poop all over in the quintessential nutritional exchange. 

These ladies and gentlemen are bred to put weight on at a remarkable (and likely unhealthy) rate.  Keep in mind that they are the same age (5 – 6 weeks old) as the laying hens in the pictures below AND that they are already half-way through their lives at this stage.  This isn’t meant to be morbid; these chickens are well taken care of, and, despite what many people assume, they are active foragers and quite mobile.  That said, there’s little doubt that their rate of growth must be causing tremendous strain on their internal systems (an issue that the industrial food system is all too willing to gloss over – Food Inc: see it! ).  SO … I’m glad to have had the chance to be around them, happy that our farming group has decided against raising these types of chickens next time, and happier still to be a vegetarian (though always impressed by and encouraging of those who want to raise their own meat in a humane and intentional way). 

One of my favorite Spring sights: pea blossoms. 

Crawling Hops Vines

Chicken Tractor #2 : Interim mobile home for our 6 laying hens 
(4 Road Island Reds, 2 Barred Rocks)

The Garlic Patch: Garlic Harvest is usually in early July – but, for those of us who can’t wait, the scapes (garlic’s long loopy flower stalk) should be coming on any day now.  Same great flavor in a new decorative package: great pickled!

The Bird Farm Continues: Heritage Turkeys, a couple of weeks old. 

life starts here.

3 responses

  1. Looking good! The cornish sure are monsters, but it's amazing how fast & how much protein is created with so little grain.

    May 23, 2010 at 4:25 pm

  2. Isn't that chicken cage (or how do you call it) small for those chickens?

    May 27, 2010 at 9:30 pm

  3. Hi Jelena! Yeah, now that they're older and bigger, we've moved all of the hens into larger areas – the 6 laying hens are now in the largest chicken tractor, and the 11 broiler hens have a new house with a fenced in area around it where so they can still peck around and eat grass. Bird musical chairs! It's interesting; the "organic standards" for raising chickens in the US only require that each chicken have one square foot of space. Hard to imagine how they settled on that number, but it definitely doesn't seem like enough for them to move around, scratch, forage. It's a lot of work to move their houses each day onto fresh grass, but you can tell they enjoy it (and, in the meantime, we're planning on establishing a more permanent area for our egg-layers) . Getting a flock any time soon?

    May 28, 2010 at 12:19 am

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