Archives for posts with tag: livestock

20130801-095605.jpg

Look! We got our first egg! We are very excited and I wanted to share it with you! We love our girls!

Off and on through my life, my family has kept chickens.  My Father started the tradition when I was only a child, but I remember marveling at the chickens on the other side of the fenced coup.  Unfortunately, a raccoon (or a similar rascal) broke into the chicken coup.  My parents found them in the morning.  The rooster’s name was Paddy.  He was mean to anyone who got close, but I remember him as being a beautiful rooster with long green tail feathers and a copper red body.

When I was a teenager in high school, I wanted to keep chickens again.  My Mother decided that it was a great idea!  We got one Road Island Red and five black chickens. Each one had a name that described their personality or feather colors.  This backfired a bit when they grew up and all the black ones looked the same.  They became ‘Sunny and The Girls’, since Sunny was the only red one.  I held them every day, meticulously cared for their food, water, and coop cleanliness.  They became lovely free range chickens that lived in the barn alongside horses and barn cats too fat to care about the huge birds.  Since I hand raised them, you could pick them up, pet them, and even cuddle them a bit.  We loved them very much and had them for many years.

A family moved into the run-down shack across the street and had a dog that liked to run away. He got a few of my chickens, but four remained for two years or so.  Eventually, they were gone too.  That’s the way of life.

Last year, my Mother got heirloom chickens that were supposedly the best free range egg layers.  I was very proud of myself that I spotted it in Urban Farmer and researched the breed.  They were nine chickens and a stow-away rooster.  They were… not as wonderful as described.  Only one still lives. My Mother named her, “Sweety Pie Chicken”

 

"What are you doing? Is it time for my close up?"

“What are you doing? Is it time for my close up?”

So, this year my Mother went to the store and told the shopkeepers, “I want smart chickens that are good for free ranging!” They were a bit confused, but they gave her their suggestions. It took her over an hour and a half to pick them out.  She got eight red cross breeds, and a White Silky (who is VERY feathery and ADORABLE).  The Silky was protecting a small grey chick from the others in the pen.  My Mother was so taken with the pair of friends that she took the little grey chicken as well.  She looks like a Dove, and she and the white Silky are inseparable. The whole flock has accepted Sweety Pie Chicken, and they are one big happy family.

This story is a big part of our lives.  Over the years we have learned from our mistakes, and it has made us better at our tasks.  We know the best way (or a very, very good way)  to keep our animals healthy and happy.

There's always one who doesn't want to go to bed!

There’s always one who doesn’t want to go to bed!

Many people go into the grocery store and buy the cheapest eggs on the shelf, even if they can afford something better.  These eggs come from chickens packed into tiny cages, with barely any room to move.  They have no life.  They are fed terrible food instead of their natural diet.  Chickens need to move, they need to peck, and they need to eat a variety of food.  These differences produce a rich, delicious egg that is filled with more nutrients than their counterparts.

But it’s more than that.  We are humans, and that means we have different brains that are capable of compassion and understanding.  Eating and egg shouldn’t mean that you benefit from another living thing’s suffering.  I would rather have my eggs come from chickens who actually can move, eat, and thrive in their lives. I feel that just because something is different from me doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be respected.  A Chicken gives us eggs, meat, and in many cases enjoyment.  They give us their entire existence.  That means they deserve our respect.

You can tell I have had this discussion before, mainly with people who do not value an animal’s life.  They see them like a paper cup: simply something that is theirs to use.  That is so heartbreaking.

It makes me sad that people don’t understand why cage-free eggs are so important.  My family’s chickens have a pen and a chicken house.  They would not be safe at night otherwise.  But they are out from early in the morning through just before sundown.  They explore the world around them: the trees, the Sumac bushes, the horse paddock, and so on.  And you know what?  I think that is marvelous!  I wish everything could be as happy as they! Don’t you?

This is what a Chicken Stampede looks like!

This is what a Chicken Stampede looks like!

So, we are still up here, struggling against oppressive heat, still angrily mourning the tragedy of Treyvon Martin’s memory, debating Florida law, and wishing that something can be actually accomplished in Washington D.C.  We are here in Rural America, Chickens and all, struggling to have our voices heard.

On a happy note, it was announced today that the Lakeside Hospital was acquired, and is being renamed “Strong West”.  They hope to restore services by January.  Or so the news said.  I hope it is sooner.  Either way, it is nice to know that they didn’t completely forget us.  Why couldn’t they have done that before the hospital closed it’s doors is beyond me.  Perhaps it is a conspiracy to keep us dependent on this or that.  All I can say is that we will breath a sigh of relief when the emergency room is reopened.  Until then all we can do is wait.

Wherever you are, please stay cool, stay safe, and stay happy!