As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Chicken Farming

The kids were on board from day one
For the past three months, we have been chicken farmers.  It's something my husband has wanted to do for several years, but took quite a bit of coaxing to get me on board.  I thought they would smell.  I thought they would make a mess in our yard.  I thought they would be even more living things demanding my time when it is so scarcely scattered among the living beings that already occupy my household.  Bad idea, I thought.  Bad.

Baby chicks, cozy in our mud room. 
And yet, as it turns out, 2012 was the year to dive in and give it a try.  And I am so glad we did.  Because true to his word, my husband has assumed 100% responsibility for the care and maintenance of these birds (which, apart from building the infrastructure to house them, is quite minimal).  And they add so much to our property, not the least of which is farm-fresh eggs which we collect daily.  We got them as day-old chicks at the end of April, and kept them in the house for the next two months while my husband and some good friends worked tirelessly to finish the coop and outdoor run.  We got four "pullets" (grown hens) in July and they began to lay several weeks later. The ones we got as chicks are not laying yet, but will start hopefully in the next couple of weeks.  It has been an adventure.

One of our boys feeding the fully-grown meat birds
In addition to the laying hens, we also got meat birds.  These are birds whose sole purpose in life is to eat, get fat, and be slaughtered for food.  It has been interesting to confront the attitudes we (and others around us) hold about animal slaughter, but something I am happy to be doing as a family.  It's never any fun to end the life of a living creature, especially one that you have nurtured and cared for from a baby.  And yet, most of us don't think twice about going to the supermarket and picking up a pre-processed chicken to feed our family.  I like being connected to the process.  I hope it helps us to respect the animals, who give their lives to feed our family, and to never be wasteful or take them for granted.  And I am comforted that the birds in our care receive good care for the extent of their lives, while often times the birds on commercial farms are kept in less-than-humane conditions, and are not cared for as pets. 

Most importantly, I am happy to be contributing in a more direct way to our family's food supply.  I visited a farm with the kids last fall and was so struck by their way of life, their connection with the land, and how their labor was so initimately linked to their family's livelihood (they tilled the soil, they worked the land, they harvested the vegetables that fed their family - they rarely bought food at a grocery store). In the future I hope to take on vegetable gardening as well.  But that's another journey for another day.

In the meantime, I am sincerely appreciative of the many blessings God gives my family to make our own place in this world.  And I am happy to have these little animals in our family, to care for, to provide for us, and to enrich our lives.  Farm life, I think I'm going to like it.
Visiting the laying hens
Collecting eggs

These little guys are not so bad after all