Sustainability

August 16th, 2013

If you had asked me a year ago, I would have told you that the power of positive thought brought me the biggest blessings of my life.  And while that remains an honest answer, I am truly happy to tell you today that I have abandoned my dedication to this mindset.

Talk about exhausting.  Who needs that kind of pressure?

Yes.  I visualized what I wanted.  Yes.  I focused on love and acceptance and tried to be a good member of the public.  I controlled myself, I worked for it and I got what I wanted.  I tried to fit in here, I tried to be a good tattoo ambassador.  A good neighbour.  I tried to be a lot of things, for myself and for other people and none of that was ME.  I don’t fit in, and I don’t want to.  And I would be a terrible neighbour, which is why I can’t see one from my front door.  I require space.  I need to honor that.

I tried to see the best in people.  I started giving second, third chances.  I dealt with my anger via letter writing.  And don’t get me wrong, it was cathartic.  It let me sleep soundly.  But it wasn’t enough.

No doubt, there are people born happy.  Whose natural instinct is to gravitate towards the bright side.  And for those people, perhaps a dedication to “PMA” (Positive Mental Attitude) is not a burden.

But that’s not me.  Never been me, isn’t me now and wasn’t me while I was using it.  It was not a sustainable practice.  Seven years was a good run, but I’ve used up my patience.  With curtailing my tongue, buttoning up, blending in.

This winter, I got into an altercation with some very impolite individuals.  After oh, about 7 years of putting up with harassment, of politely answering their ridiculous questions, and ignoring their insults.  When I talk about bullying with my children, I have always felt it a bit disingenuous.  Because the idea is, children bully.  Horse shit.  Adults do it, too.  And while positive conflict resolution is of course ideal, it is not always the best option.  You know, it was one of those mornings, I was running late, hadn’t had a coffee.  I wasn’t at my best.  They pushed.  Like they always pushed.  And finally, I pushed back.  I asked them what about me (the “Horrible Tattooed Woman”) gave them the impression that I might turn the other cheek.  Be a better judge of character, I told them.

And I meant it.

They hated me when I was being polite, and they hate me today.  Difference is, I don’t have to hear about it anymore.  Hallelujah.

This spring, someone I cared about passed away.  Another went into hospital and remains there.  No amount of positive thought would have improved their failing health.  No thoughts, no words, no actions could have changed the course that they had set sail on.  Positive mental approach, my ass.  There was no place for that in that new reality of mourning, of the morning after.  Not only would it not have been helpful, it would have been an insult.  Sometimes, the only way out is through.  Get mad.  Wallow.  Do it over and over.  As much as you want.  Sometimes there is no feeling better.

Sometimes the only way out for people is death. I have watched good people around me deal with extremely hard end-of-life care, and if I saw someone tell them to ‘keep their chin up’ or ‘visualize a better reality’, I would probably be moved to violence.  People need support from other people during dark times, to make hard and often dark choices.

I believe we can re-wire ourselves. Create new patterns, new habits.  Even new pathways in our brains.  Fake it ’till ya make it.  C’mon, get happy.  But unless you honour the core of your being, unless you are being honest with yourself, it’s just a facade.  Something that will get heavier with time, until it itself is a burden.

No matter what blessings it has brought.

You better be you.

While I better…. B ME.

 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

rip sdl

 

So, You Think You Can Farm

April 8th, 2013

1. Be comfortable with shit.  Talking about shit, smelling shit, touching shit, listening to critters shit, eating shit.  Yeah, you heard me.  I am not sure how it happens, but when we are raising broiler chickens, 1/3 times I go to fill up a chicken waterer, while rinsing, the dirty water splashes back onto my face.  Usually into my mouth or onto my lips.  I turn my head, I purse my lips, but it doesn’t matter.

Manure is a huge part of the farm experience.  Yes, there are lots of moments where you get to restfully gaze upon your livestock.  But that’s only after you have spent your time cleaning, composting, and helping your animals create shit.

Endless.  Pooing.

2. Be comfortable with sex.  Animals don’t get a room.  The plus side is that you will never need to have The Talk with your children, because it will be abundantly clear what goes where.  Your success depends on the healthy sex life of your animals.  You will have ewes to tease, hormonal animals on the loose, and if you’re really lucky, you’ll get to actually get your hands right in there and HELP align a boar with the sow.  That girl is shiny because she is covered in cum like a glazed doughnut.

You get to see it, hear it , smell it.  That cute billy goat I post pictures of?  His beard is used as a deliciously scented aromatherapy fan to entice my lovely doe.  He has formulated just the right balance of urine and ejaculate to make himself irresistible to the opposite sex.

3. Be comfortable with birth.  Hopefully, you never have to assist.  In a perfect world, all goes well, every time.  Maybe you think, “I’ll call the vet if there’s a problem!”  And you will.  But unless you are a millionaire, most times, you won’t.  You will have to learn how to midwife your critters, and you will gain intimate knowledge of what a cervixes feel like, and how to put prolapsed uterus’ back inside the body of the appropriate animal.

You will start habitually keeping your nails short and your children will become adept at spotting the puffy & dripping vulvas that indicate birth is near.  They are a good height for it, after all.

4. Be comfortable with noise.  You can’t put a bark collar on a rooster.  Our boys will start announcing their manhood at around 4am in the summer.  I get up at around 3am to start shutting windows in preparation.  I have been soothed to sleep more than a few nights this winter by the repetitious smashing sound of our ram battering his shed to smithereens.  You can hear cows bawling and coyotes howling from miles away.  The footprints of mice in your attic.  Both of which will wake you from a dead sleep.

When it’s  harvest time, tractors, combines, grain dryers and the like will run all day and all night.  Gotta make hay while the sun shines.  This heightened industriousness pleases me greatly.  If you think you’d be pissed instead of pleased, consider a different locale.

5. Be comfortable with spontaneity.  Not the “guess what honey, we’re going to Tahiti!” type of spontaneity.  I’m talking about the “You’re heading out the door to some Very Important Once in a Lifetime Event and it’s at that very moment your steers get out, or someone decides to maim themselves on a previously hidden hazard and you have to not only kill them but clean them” type of spontaneity.

6. Be comfortable with a life with no spontaneity of your own choosing.  We took a day trip recently, and in addition to the 2x I did chores that day, I had to arrange for 4 farm visits from extremely understanding friends.  Who were already familiar and comfortable with our routine.  One of my tasks for these wonderful, giving souls included “catch and pin the +200lb ewe so her ram lamb can nurse.”  It takes a village.

I remember a summer day a couple of years ago, we were supposed to go get our passports renewed in the city.  I had reservations about going.  We had a brooder full of broiler chicks and I don’t normally leave them for longer than a couple of hours at a time.  Chickens are an extremely suicidal bunch.  Well, we went.  And we came back home to discover that the brooder door had snapped and blown shut, and our broilers were… broiled.  It was horrific.  Many were dead from the heat of the day already, and many more were dying.  They were almost a month old and it was a complete waste.  A good number of the survivors died before slaughter.  If I couldn’t catch them in the act of dying and found them dead, we obviously couldn’t eat them.  I may as well have taken wads of our hard earned money and lit it on fire.  Composting fat chicken corpses is a shameful waste.

And so, when the brooder is full, mama stays home.  When new animals arrive, mama stays home.  When the babies are due, mama stays home.  When it’s a hot day or a very cold day, mama stays home.  When it’s chore time or milking time, mama heads home.

Home is where your heart is; home is where your herd is; home is where you are.

7. Be comfortable with death.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Rural life is equal parts beauty and brutality.

Accidents happen, and you will have to be prepared to end a life out of mercy.  Immediately.  Could be a tiny little critter like a baby chick in need of culling.  Could be a big critter like a horse who has cleared a fence and gotten hit by a car.  Could be a ewe torn apart by a coyote.  How are you going to end a life quickly and humanely?  Are you ready?

If you think you are going to just keep a few animals, and once they are done being productive you’re just going to let them live out their years in healthy contentment, and you will never see violence… you are dreaming a beautiful dream.

Predation happens.  When you already live in the middle of nowhere, where do you catch and release the racoons who are tearing your chickens to pieces?  Miles away is still next door and it’s not very neighbourly to pass your problem along.

A couple of years ago we had chickens killed by coons every day for nearly two weeks. And we dispatched a coon every day for the same duration until the slaughter stopped.  Wake up, dispose of shredded corpse, get a mouthful of shit water, fill feeders, shoot coon, dispose of corpse, reward self with morning coffee.  Rinse, repeat.

8. No matter the weather, you’ll weather the weather, whether you like it or not.  Chores need to be done, about the same time, every day. Sun, rain, sleet, heat, snow.  The more extreme the weather, the more you will have to check on your critters.

This morning, chores were a treat.  It was not snowing.  (It is April and in Canada, that means it’s still winter).  The shining sun made me happy enough not to care about the poo pond that is my entire yard and pasture.  Boot stealing mud, everywhere.  And as I type this, it’s time for me to go do chores.  It is a torrential downpour out there.  In about an hour, I will come in chilled to the core, soaked in rain and shit.

AND I WOULDN’T HAVE IT ANY OTHER WAY.

Gone to the Goats

March 26th, 2013

We have kept Nigerian Dwarf Goats for the past five years.  I bought them because of their high butterfat content, because I didn’t desire a large quantity of milk, because they are cute.  We have milked them, eaten them, enjoyed them.  I have learned a lot about animal husbandry from them.  How to give injections, trim hooves, use a drench.  When to intervene and when not to.  When it’s time to be cruel to be kind.

A while ago, when we thought we may move from our farm, I sold off my does.  I kept back Alva, my favourite goat.  She is small for her breed.  She’s roughly the size of an overfed cockerspaniel, likes a hearty chest rub and has beautiful blue eyes.  She is, as far as the farm is concerned, useless.  But what she lacks in productivity she makes up for with hilarity.  I couldn’t part with her.

Nigerian Dwarf Goat Twwly

When it became clear we were not moving, at least for the time being, it only made sense to enrich our lives with more hilarious, tiny goats.  And so we brought home a beautiful buckling, with sweeping blonde bangs and big balls.  We named him Rod Stewart.

Nigerian Dwarf Goat

When Rod Steward arrived, I put him in his own fenced pasture.  Fence is at nearing 5′ tall, nice sturdy woven wire fencing.  It took Rod all of 8 minutes to find a way around that fence and in with Alva.  Another thing I know to be true:

IF A FENCE WON’T HOLD WATER, IT WON’T HOLD A GOAT.

I marked down the first possible day of breeding, counted out 145 days and marked it on my calendar.  Earliest possible due date.  I assembled my birth kit a month in advance.  I got excited.  Alva got wider and wider.  Her width went from being impressive and awe inspiring to nearly grotesque.  Her due date came and went.  I watched her exhibit signs of early labour for two weeks, each day CERTAIN that she would give birth.  I got restless. Surely, surely she can’t possibly be pregnant another day.  She was pawing, bleating, stretching, nesting, puffy and dripping.  And still no babies.

Nigerian Dwarf Goat

(Fat Alva, two months away from giving birth in this photo).

It dawned on me.  Alva may live here, but unlike the rest of us who are breeding age, she did not put out on the first date.

I canceled outings, I stayed close to home, in anticipation of her maiden delivery.  The one afternoon I had to go out of town for court, which ran late of course, I came home in the dark, raced out to do chores and arrived just in time to watch the second kid slide right out of her.

I had been keeping towels tied up to the ceiling in the goat shed, and my preparedness paid off.  It was well below freezing and the little babies were sopping wet.  I toweled them dry quickly, and jogged back to the house to get the birth kit.  Told my 4 & 6 year old kids to make themselves dinner, get ready for bed, and tuck themselves in.  Which they did, without incident.

My husband was in town working, and had the extension cords.  What I did next is something that I truly treasure about living in the country.  I called a neighbour.  I didn’t find out until later that he had only just found out that his business had been burglarized.  But I called in need of help, and so help came.

All was well.  Alva took to mothering, took to her babies.  Licked them from one end to the other a hundred times over.  I dipped their cords in iodine, gave them E-Sel injections as our area is deficient, hooked up a heat lamp.  They were so tiny, just 2lbs a piece.  Had to give them a little help getting those first sips of essential colostrum, but haven’t had to intervene since.

Alva produced two little sisters, which is just a gift.  Two doelings means I will keep them both.  The males we eat, since we do enjoy a good goat curry or Moroccan tangine.  But these two little ladies will get to stay here as long as we are here.

Nigerian Dwarf Goats

I actively update my Instagram account and you can follow it online without having to sign up.  There are lots and lots of pictures of cute critters on there.  I also uploaded a video to my  YouTube channel.

We spend a LOT of time out with the girls.  Bob would tell you “my favourite TV is Goat TV, followed by Lamb TV, followed by Chicken TV.  Then I like BusyTown Mysteries.”  There are certainly no mysteries in our house about reproduction.  All realms have been thoroughly covered… sights, smells and sounds.

I have been trying to explain to my husband that the social benefits of washing my coveralls do not outweigh the benefits of NOT washing my coveralls.  I smell…. like goats and sheep.  They think I am one of them, snuzzle me and jump all over me.  I am pretty confident the mere presence of baby goats could replace anti-depressants for at least 75% of the population who need it.

Joy on hooves.

Personally…

February 24th, 2013

As a blogger, it doesn’t matter if you write about something as trivial as a dislike of a pop singer, or something as private as a decision to breastfeed… someone, somewhere is going to take it personally.

We are allowed to disagree.  I don’t have to like everything in the world, and I certainly don’t expect the world, my friends or even my husband, to like everything about ME and my choices.  It would be absurd to think it could be any other way.

I don’t know if it was the steady stream of vegans ramming my inbox with what I felt was an agenda completely detached from reality (this is where the blogger is obligated to write “but not ALL vegans have no clue what actually happens on my farm!”), or the folks telling me I am going to kill my children by not giving them the flu shot (“but you are free to make a decision about vaccination that is right for you!”), or the Little Monsters crying into my .Mac account that Gaga’s skimpy clothes are part of her humanitarian efforts, how DARE I insult the princess (“but we all have different tastes, and we should honor her feminist efforts!”)

I don’t know what exactly the final straw was, but it gets to be a drag when sharing ANY aspect of my life, or my opinions I have to write (or feel concerned about NOT writing) some pathetic hand holding caveat.  It’s lame.  What is more lame, NO CAVEAT, is if my blog hurts your feelings because I don’t want to buy chicken from the grocery store, or send my kids to public school, or write endless caveats.

I wrote this blog to share my experiences, in hopes of inspiring others who might want to follow a similar path.  I wrote because it came naturally, and I enjoyed doing it.

I would like to think that it is egomania that leaves people so high strung that they think every post is about them.  That every step of my life, if it is out of step with theirs, is a put down on my part, to them directly.  That they should take everything… personally.  I think that erring on the side of overconfidence would be preferred to my secondary feeling.  The sadness I feel for someone, taking offense on behalf of farm cats, pastured pigs, performance artists (“but who will stand up for the kitties!” cries someone, somewhere out there).

I hate to end this with a colloquialism but, my question to those  personally offended on behalf of The Kitties is, how far do you think you can walk with the weight of the world on your shoulders?

Arrived Late to the Party

October 13th, 2012

We’re coming up on Halloween, and we spent some time perusing websites for costumes to purchase.  I would love to say that I am going to design and sew the children’s costumes this year, but let’s be reasonable.

While we were searching for the desired Luke and Leia costumes, I kept seeing Lady Gaga outfits.  For women.  For children.  For dogs.  WHO IS THIS?  I asked my husband.  Who proceeded to make RAH RAH RARARAH noises until I started squinting at him.

We don’t have cable, I listen to the CBC radio while driving, we only this summer got high speed internet, and the majority of my social interaction occurs with other people… who ALSO have no idea what the deal is exactly.  I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it wrapped in bacon, but I’m not so sure.  Was that her or Sandy Skoglund?

Now that we can use YouTube with our gloriously fast internet, it didn’t take me long to find out.  After getting over the initial shock that I was watching a mini-Madonna, I was blown away by the content of the music video.  I don’t think I have sat through a regular ol’ music video in nearly 7 years.  That’s a long time to be out of the loop. And I’ve had a major perspective shift.

This was no Madonna hip thrusting, PVC coated ab-busting dance move.  This was simulated sex all over the place.  Set to music.  I know 8 year olds who love Gaga.  12  year olds.  Which seems somehow worse.

I didn’t want to throw a blanket over LadyG, but it did make me want to hide my daughter. And son.

Rock and roll was devil’s music.  Elvis was evil incarnate.  Madonna with her burning crosses and pointy bra was a nightmare to many parents I am sure.  I know we’ve been here before, this motif is not new.  But this has got to be a record.  Shy of actual, visible penetration, this was porn produced for a market that includes minors.  Soft core porn is softer than the video I watched, that I know children watch.

My kids are 4 & 6 and they know all about how babies are made.  They’ve seen various animals copulate and give birth, there’s no secrets about sex or death here.  It’s a part of the natural world we live in.  I’m not going to tell my children the horses are wrestling, or the rooster is going for a piggy back ride.  I don’t think sexuality or deviance needs to be hidden.  However, I am concerned that the easy access to hyper sexual entertainment could have a negative impact on a developing sense of self.

There was a bit on CBC the other day, some douchebag trying to justify why he runs a dating website for married folk who want an easier way to cheat.  My time spent online, I’m not looking to swap my husband.  I’m surfing the local poultry swappers website.  I’m in a Gaga free world.

For now.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Are you an adult?  If so, I highly recommend spending the next four minutes watching this super TEDtalk by Cindy Gallop.  This it is, this is everything I could ever say on the matter, only said better.  And by a way cooler lady.

Make love, not porn.

Montreal Tattoo Convention

August 29th, 2012

Scott and I will be attending the Montreal Tattoo Convention next weekend.  Scott has some slots still available, so if you’re interested in getting work from him, please email him ASAP: sugarshacktattoo@hotmail.com

I will be getting tattooed by Daveee Blows and David Glantz, lucky me!  Can’t wait to see the usual crew of friends and eat ridiculously good food.

In other news, our farm is off the market.  It’s a long story, funny in parts, and it was right down to the wire.  If you want to hear it, I’ll tell it to you over a cup of coffee.  For now, we stay.  We have everything we want here.  We still have some fight left.  So we’ll continue.

We’ll be committed to several more years of home limbo, of political headsmashery, of tireless efforts.  Scott is still the elected citizen rep on the InterMunicipal Wind Committee, and I am the newly elected President of an incorporated not-for-profit, so we won’t have a break anytime real soon.  Sometimes I feel like we are just treading water.  And then I look with fresh eyes and see how much closer to shore we are. Though it has been an excruciatingly slow process, I believe we have in fact made progress.  We must savor small victories.

Progress, not perfection.

Letting go.

Anybody Home

June 8th, 2012

Hi.

 

Believe it or not, I still have the internet.  In the month of May, we got connected at long last to HIGH SPEED internet.  This spring also saw the opening of a sushi restaurant in the town of Kincardine.  Folks, it is a brave new world for us out here in the boondocks.

Our farm is on the market.  We’d need to get every penny out of the asking price to make a move possible, a feat which I am personally praying wagering won’t happen.  I don’t really want to talk about it.  Try spending every minute of your spare time fighting a major corporation (Samsung) and various levels of government (municipal and provincial) in an effort to protect your family, knowing that you would probably see better results if you smashed your face off your driveway.  We don’t have enough money lawyers to look scary like we can affect change, and I don’t need to spend anymore time wondering who I need to metaphorically shiv in the shower to get these motherfuckers to back the fuck off my farm.

Bah.

Where was I?  The internet.  “We can has the internetz” now.  We can watch simple videos on YouTube without it buffering for an hour and a half.  I can download TV shows on iTunes, and music too.  I also can use INSTAGRAM!  If you want to find me online, that’s where I am.  The community there is pretty cool, at least my little bubble is pretty awesome.  My feed contains pictures of random cute dogs, hairless cats that belong to every other tattooer I know, doodles of penises, and hot girls.  There’s no whining in pictures.  I like it.

We’ve had a bad go with raccoons this year.  It was an easy winter, which means that the less fit coons survived, which means they are sickly bastards with distemper, breeding and being jerks left, right and center.  Distempered, they become zombies.  Slow moving, and remarkably resilient to death, despite existing on the brink of it.

Late one evening we heard a melee in the coop, Scott ran out in only his underpants, brandishing one of my rubber boots.  Two laying hens were already dead, and a third was stuck halfway through the electro-net, being semi-electrocuted with a jolt (and a buCK-AW!) every couple of seconds.  My knight in shining underpants freed the hen from the net, before turning off the energizer.  As a result of the attack, my hens are refusing to lay eggs in their nest boxes.  They burrow themselves into the straw under the boxes.  This is not a relationship I can work with, so we’ll be taking steps to block off the bottom.

Coons also made off with Maggie’s rabbit, who happened to be quite possibly the Cutest Rabbit in Existence.  A dwarf hotot the size of a kiwi.

Being an artist, as well as a sharpshooter (first place in standing and prone competitions), I came home one afternoon to find this fly covered installation art piece in my front lawn.

It’s little gestures like these that keep the spark in our marriage.

On the Lam

May 10th, 2012

Hey! Do me a favour. Read this link about the Canadian Food Inspection Agency slaughtering some very rare sheep with no justification. (And even a false document!) Montana & Fox are now up against the Canadian government, trying to appeal the condemnation of death for 31 of their sheep, who are presently on the lam. Should authorities catch them before the ruling is overturned, they will kill even more of her perfectly healthy sheep. They have already killed 9 sheep, 8 of whom were pregnant, none of whom were sick.

Sign the petition and please consider donating. I cannot believe this level of government sanctioned cruelty and ignorance is happening right here in my province.

SAVE OUR SHROPSHIRES

 

Come Home To Roost

April 20th, 2012

As some of you may know, we pasture our animals in portable, secure structures that grassfed industry types call ‘tractors’.  They keep our animals on fresh grass daily, allowing them a clean and natural living environment that supplements their diets with a salad bar (bacon sprinkles being bugs with this analogy) and keeps (the many) predators from turning our critters into an All You Can Eat Buffet.  It also stops them from using my children’s swing set as an interactive toilet, depositing their waste on my front doorstep (a time honoured favourite) and destroying my garden.  Last year four hens decimated my one hundred freshly planted strawberry plants in one afternoon.

Our first year having layers, we kept them in our small barn and let them out into a static yard, with permanent fencing.  Quickly we learned that regular fencing is simply a suggestion to chickens, who even with clipped wings, will just flap harder, and opt to roost ten, twelve feet off the ground.  Since they turned their lush grass yard into a dust bowl within a matter of weeks, they also chose to clear the fence, to eat the green grass on the other side.

We then moved to the small portable chicken tractor, designs of which are innumerable via Google, and it housed half a dozen birds easily and happily.  Our grass was greener, the chickens were happier, nobody had to open their front door and step into a fresh pile of shit.

We’ve increased our number of laying hens, and required a bigger coop at home.  We had a variety of structures to chose from, and converting my garden shed seemed like the best route.  I purchased PoultryNet from Premier (whose catalogs have inspired, thrilled and educated me for years now) one roll of 48″ x 164′ netting and a solar energizer.

Craig Colquhoun of Hosbilt went about building me the Hen Hilton.  A coop beyond my wildest dreams.  Classic yet inspired, and built to last.

Here’s a picture of the chickens out in their yard.  We will rotate the position of the netting as the hens mow it down.  So far, nobody has realized they could fly over it, and it delivers enough of a wallop to keep them off of it.

The interior of the coop is exceptionally pleasing.  Branches were used for the perches and the roosts.  Very natural, and enjoyed thoroughly by persons and poultry.

Very proud to have a Hosbilt chicken coop!

Chookin

February 28th, 2012

Last summer, the dog ate two of our chickens (and then the dog found a new home).  We didn’t replace them because we weren’t sure if we were coming or going.  So now we’re farm sitting in Inverhuron, and we moved our birds into the lovely chicken coop here (everything is lovely, I love every building on this property).  The resident hens are long past the point of laying, one buff orphington is in her teens.  We needed more eggs, therefore, it was time to get more chickens.

I had placed an ad online, heard back from a farmer with hens who were to be a year old in June, asking a good price, within reasonable driving distance.  Off we went.  Turns out his birds are “cage birds” (his words).

We enter his barn (dark and smelly, two things barns don’t need to be, the contents of which I will not elaborate on, or I’ll be typing forty pages instead of four) and he’s got hens there for me, crammed into cages, hanging above a cattle pen.

Their toes are hanging through the wire, they can hardly move in their cages, and despite having had the ends of their beaks trimmed off, they have had nothing to do but peck each other.  And have been doing so.

I didn’t set out thinking I was on a rescue mission, I set out thinking “EGGS!  YUMMY!”  I would never have bought hens in such bad condition at an auction, but I couldn’t leave without them.  He assured me they were not even a year yet, that they were laying well, and tells me that they would have been getting put in the stew pot soon because they were starving, eating each other, suicidal it was time for the next cycle of birds.

So I paid and thanked the farmer (a man hardly older than myself), and took the hennies home.

There is no reason for this.

Just because chickens can survive horrific conditions and still produce an egg, doesn’t mean they should.  Just because that was the way it was done before, does not mean it’s the way it needs to be done TODAY.  That latter part is what I wrote to the farmer, in a very polite, but very clear email.

Because it’s just the herd, following nose to tail, not paying attention to what is really going on, that creates this situation.  Because stepping back even an inch, from the sphincter ahead of you, would reveal that the situation is not reasonable.  Heck, it’s not even CHEAPER.  I laid out the case for giving the hens more floor space, feeding them kitchen scraps and allowing them to be live in composters, because guess what?  They’ll lay eggs productively for more than one measly year, because they won’t be starving and eating each other.  Better for the chicken, better for the consumer, better for the pocketbook.

It’s not rocket science.

The chickens, once let out of the crate, immediately began scratching, pecking, and wobbling around the coop.  It was like they had sea legs.  Took them two days to figure out how to navigate the hatch and ramp to go outside (where the waterer is) and most of them understand that the nest box is the best place to lay an egg.  Their shells are still quite thin, I would imagine this is because they were nutritionally deficient (starving).  They have free access to food, and heaps of scraps, as I am egg sharing these hens with another family, who arrive laden with nibbles for them on a regular basis.

Their eggs taste like thanksgiving.

It’s a great thing to receive.