The completion of my address to council marked, as I had hoped, a few nights of perfectly restful sleep. Unfortunately, the fight is nowhere near over. The melatonin I was taking seemed to give me next day headaches, so I have begun working my way through some herbal teas. It has also been easily a month since I have had coffee in the house, and have switched to tea throughout the day.
I lay in bed and think of all of the letters I still need to write, all of the things I need to do. I wish I was thinking about gardening and pigs and ordering chickens. But my head is clouded with fierce frustration.
We still have not decided how many chickens we will be raising this year. I really do need to decide soon. I have completed our 2010 farm taxes, and let me just say, make no mistake you will never be pimping on small farm profits. That is, if you HAD profit, something which we don’t yet. One problem is scale. It’s so much cheaper to fill a silo than buy bagged feed. But feed has a limited lifespan; silos are expensive (“bankruptcy tubes”); and we’d have to cheek to jowl to get through it all. All of the price breaks happen on a much grander scheme, and we are especially limited here in Ontario thanks to the quota system.
We could not raise more than 300 chickens without buying quota, and the quota for turkeys is only 50. As small farmers we are prevented from entering fully into trade and commerce. Sobeys, Metro and Loblaws control over 63% of the Canadian marketplace. Unless we were to get our meat processed at a Federal plant (not on your life) we could not be distributed across provincial borders or by these retailers. Neither can small abbatoirs compete in the market, given the cost prohibitive nature of becoming “federally inspected” (amongst other things, we’d have to build the inspector their own private shitter). 73% of all federally inspected beef is from Cargill and Tyson. Saputo, Parmalat and Agripor control 70% of the Canadian milk market and the dairy council. Canadian supermarkets import lamb from New Zealand because we don’t have a federal lamb abbatoir. Repeat that last sentence in your head.
Canada has lost over 38,000 dairy farms since 1980. Over a hundred small abbatoirs in Ontario have closed alone in the last 10 years. Think of that. Who is going to be left in control of our food? Huge corporations who have no interest in anything but profit. Let alone the health and well being of the animal, or the consumer.
Why don’t we buy quota and raise more birds, engage in the “system” so that we can legally sell chickens, and you can legally buy them?
For chicken, the minimum quota is 75,000 chickens at the present start up cost of $850,000. We can’t even afford a tractor yet.
I do start coming up on ethical concerns when I think about raising more animals. I feel comfortable with providing my family with what I consider to be very happy, healthy meat. I understand no everyone else wants to, or can raise animals to feed their own families. It is thrilling to be able to provide this, to feed other people. However, in immediate terms, the blood is on MY hands. While I don’t believe in karma, I do believe in energy, and I am concerned about tipping the balance towards death.
As I have made clear before, I am opposed to factory farming, I find it unnecessarily cruel and offensive. I am not ethically opposed to killing animals to eat them. To quote my friend Eugene:
“I recognize that I am alive only at the expense of a myriad set of others who have had to give up their lives so that I can enjoy mine. It doesn’t matter whether that myriad is composed of chickens, lettuce, milk, fresh air or stones for a building I am making. My use deprives others.
For me the consequence of this is that I must make use of the time and life I have stolen from these others as wisely and beneficially as possible.”
In terms of time, I am ever so resentful of the amount of time I have spent on this industrial wind issue, and will have to continue to spend. We are going to be putting new windows, insulation and siding on, which ought to reduce annoyance from sound (at least in the months the windows are closed) and we are making a point to try to get our energy use back down to what it used to be (4-8kWH/day). If we can sustain that low level of energy consumption again, we will be able to consider getting off the grid, which would solve any dirty electricity issues that may arise from the project development slated for my area.
I also resent laundry. I hate laundry. There is always so much of it. I am feeling a desperate need to purge. We have too many clothes! Too much stuff! If there was less of it, there would be less mess for me to have to tend to. I am always in awe of minimalist homes, jealous. I would be hard pressed to count the number of garbage bags of clothes that have left our home (a dozen perhaps?) and that could surely be done again without hardly noticing.
How do you give up old clothes that may be great one day for re-creating into new ones? How do you ever part with books? I have countless bins of canning jars scavenged from yard sales and the dump, because you just never now when you’re going to need another jar! I would love to be ruthless and begin hauling heaps of STUFF out of here by the trailer full, but I don’t think I will be able to bring myself to do it!
Any tips on letting go?
We are definitely getting a little squirrely in our wait for spring. Pictured below are the kids and Scott firing kibble at the dogs with the Lee Valley Catapult; the children who were sent out to “shovel the snow off of the field” having at it…