Well the snow is only about 3 feet deep right now, and the temperature is above freezing. The pets (the broilers that won the lottery last year and came home with me) are venturing across the hard-pack snow to rap on the patio door to be let in for a stroll around the living room before being ushered out.
Shopping for a new livestock guarding pup has started in earnest, and hopefully by May we’ll have another Great Pyrenees on the payroll…and in training with our female Pyr. Love these dogs!
The poultry nursery equipment needs dusting and tinkering with after languishing in the barn and shed over winter. Bookkeeping finally done and off to the Accountant. Conversations with the feed people have started… dispatching dates secured… ideas for improvements are percolating. And while others dream of spring flowers, I dream of fields of little yellow fluff balls running about my feet on day 1 of the journey.
… it’s beginning to feel like spring is around the corner.
Well this is the last day for Batch 1 of the 2016 season. Tomorrow we take that short walk across the lane to the abattoir.
I find this the most difficult part of the process. And it is especially hard with this batch who were the busiest, healthiest, most affectionate birds I’ve ever raised. Every year I try to do better and make a commitment to the little fluff balls that I will make their life as comfortable as possible.
This year we had troubles with a Goshawk, so the birds were more confined than I wanted them to be. They couldn’t run free on the acreage anymore. I tried to make their life great despite that, that so I moved their bottomless pens 2x a day onto fresh clover, and gave the birds pans of peat-moss so they could bath to their hearts’ content. It was more work but well worth it seeing the joy it brought the birds…and so funny. At least a couple of belly-laughs a day watching them enjoy themselves.
This batch lottery winners get to join “Mrs Greasy” and “Mums’ Bird” in the laying house till the end of their days. They are: little “Walker” who likes to ‘walk the plank’ of the support beam of the pen. “Gulliver” who is so well um ‘stupid’ and trusting that he just looks at you when the food is put down and wont touch it till he sees your fingers go into it. And “Chick” who jumps onto my knee on command and did so from day 5.
Giving thanks to everything these birds give. Hope you can taste the love that went both ways.
The first in a series of consumer education posts.
ORGANIC: Did you know that the ORGANIC CERTIFICATION process considers: What the animal was fed (certified organic feed that has no gmo, no herbicides and no pesticides); the conditions the animal was kept in (including stocking density, access to outside, how the animal was killed); what was done to the land while you raised the animal (nitrogen levels on the pasture etc); and what happened to the meat after the animal was slaughtered (ie was it processed or repackaged in a certified organic facility that cant contaminate it with cleaning chemicals)? All this is verified by a 3rd party verification officer. Verification all along the food and supply chain is an expensive but necessary process to ensure the standards are complied with.
CONVENTIONAL: Conventional farmers put chemicals on their grain fields to kill off weeds and pests. They also used chemical fertilizers to try to increase yield. Conventional meat farmers give their birds antibiotics to combat disease that is usually caused or exasperated by the stress of confinement and high stocking ratios. This contributes to the evolution of the super bugs we see in our hospitals.
GMO: Big chemical companies developed Genetically modified seed, that could resist some bugs and handle being sprayed with super herbicides like glyphosphate…purportedly increasing yield.
NON-GMO: But the concern for the health effect of glyphosphate made some people go back to seed that was not genetically modified. They label it Non-GMO seed. But that means, farmers have to rely on herbicides and pesticides to grow the Non-GMO feed…potentially even more chemicals than GMO plants are exposed to. The NON-GMO label may mean your food (and the land it was grown on) has been exposed to herbicides, pesticides, and it also doesn’t address antibiotic use, animal welfare etc.
So, this is why we chose Organic certification. And at CrippleCrow Ranch we go beyond the standards of Organic certification and raise our birds on pasture where they are moved every day to fresh certified organic grass. Organic Certification ensures the feed is not contaminated with herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizer. The animals must be well cared for and be able to express their natural emotions and behaviours while they are growing. They are dispatched with care, and their meat is honoured right through the supply chain.
…and dont get me going on the “farm raised” moniker…. where else would they be raised? On a spaceship? Well, even a spaceship could be a farm… that’ll be the next blog entry.
The warm dry weather makes young chicks happy. We were able to get them onto the fields at 21 days old. Fresh air and sunshine make for happy birds. This is an exceptionally healthy bunch of birds. Our third and final batch of the season arrives this Tuesday… life is good.
The brooders are stoked and stocked with the first batch of chicken people. They are now a week old and everyone is healthy and happy. Chores are much easier this year now that we have our systems developed (well, there’s always a little bit of tweaking needing to do around the farm). The cows have arrived to begin preparing the pasture for when we put these little 3 week old tykes on the fields. To a 3 week old chicken person, a 6″ blade of grass looks like a telephone pole so the cows are moved onto the grass first to shear off the grass, and to leave behind mud pies to play in and harvest grubs from. It’s all a circle.
From the COABC’s website:
A new study at the University of California shows that organically grown berries and corn contain up to 58 percent more polyphenolics, natural antioxidants that are good for our health. Check out “Organic and Sustainable Foods Have More Polyphenolics Linked to Health Benefits UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology (2003)” www.news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=6312
Check out this link for more studies on the benefits of organic food.
The snow is nearly gone from the fields. Our website is up and running. Last years book-keeping is almost done. And new supplies, feed and shavings are ordered. Now its time to set up the brooders in anticipation of our first batch of babies arriving 3rd week of April. Sending good vibes out to the hens and roosters at the breeding farm. They’ll be laying our little people soon. Here’s a photo of what’s to come.
Warm and toasty under the brooder, a thermometer wire to play with and a thermostat coil to rest a weary chick’s beak on.
Many people have asked “Why Pastured Poultry” ? What does it matter to me?
In addition to a better quality of life these birds can have if they are properly managed, pastured poultry has been shown to have more nutrients.
In 2013 a study commissioned by the American Pastured Poultry Association (APPA) showed Pastured Poultry are higher in vitamins E and D3 and have a much 69% lower ratio of Omega 6 to 3 compared to poultry not raised on pasture. Note. A higher ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 promotes inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cancer and autoimmune disorders.
Why a bit BIGGER IS BETTER: Many people ask us for a 3 lb bird “cause there are just two of us and 3 lb is the perfect size for a meal”. It’s a fair request. Big farm organic producers often dispatch their chickens at 3 lbs at 4- 5 weeks of age to meet this request.
We cant bear to end their lives that early, so we let our birds grow out to 5 – 7 lbs before they take that last walk. We believe that if customers understood what their request means for the birds, then they wouldn’t mind cutting a large bird in half and freezing the other half. Besides, you get more meat to bone on a larger bird which means better value for your hard earned dollar.
Winter is a slow time in the fields (since they are under 3 feet of snow) and that allows us to plan and catch up on all the desk jobs we couldn’t do over the growing season… like finally getting our website up and running.
Our new web designer is fabulous & works for scratch!