We are taking part in a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) with our eggs, and quickly realized we needed our baby chickens to start laying to meet demand. This obviously can't be forced, so I started searching craigslist for laying hens. After a couple dead ends, I found my chicken man! We quickly made arrangements to meet in the next town over at a Tractor Supply to pick pick up our newest egg makers. It was like a farm drug deal... just swap out the drugs and illegality for chickens in the back of a pick up truck!! Some of our new chickens lay white eggs! We've only had brown egg layers in the past... so as commonplace as a white egg is to a grocery store- this was a new and exciting thing for our farm!
Something actually felt oddly right about pulling up to Tractor Supply with a dog crate in my van and transporting 5 new hens home... maybe it feeling oddly right wasn't it... just nothing felt peculiar. I got home and thought... wow... I didn't even hesitate... the farm girl transformation is just about complete! Oh, 17 year old Sb... if you could see your future.
We also welcomed our three bottle calves this week! Squirelly, Bert and Moe, our three holstein bulls. They are about 5 days old and sweet as they can be!
To clear up a few questions I've received on Facebook. Yes, we named them. We name everything. We can't help it. Yes, they are our "pets" for the time. Farming has desensitized me in a way. Don't get me wrong. I grieve every creature we lose-- or better stated, I grieve every creature we lose prematurely. I hurt for the loss and waste of the animal. When we lost our first chicken to a dog attack, I worried myself sick. I thought I would never be able to do this. Losing animals is nearly a certainty... it's life... and it's hard. When we lose animals to attrition (sometimes baby chickens go missing-- could be hawk-- could be hungry guardian dog (who doesn't watch chickens anymore mind you!)-- could be fox or any other hosts of silent predator), I still grieve- not to the point that I used to- but I still mourn.
But questioning whether I can eat something I named is not a problem for me. A friend beautifully stated... that there's nothing more precious (and lost on our culture) in this life than to see our food process from beginning to end. I don't know if we will keep one of our three bulls for our personal consumption-- but I do know that I can take them to the stockyard knowing that they were given a healthy and cared for life. I can sell our eggs, knowing that our chickens are incredibly content. That they have acres of land to roam and forage and a clean coop to return to at night. That they have a guardian dog who watches over them intently. We respect the land and the animals and treat them well-- something heavy industrial farming loses. In small farming, you do get to know the animals, you do care for them, I don't mourn them when they serve out their purposes- there is no grieving in that.
Even more fun for us is sharing our farm chores with our friends! A little Tom Sawyer wisdom goes a long way... I'll put out the call when we have fences to whitewash!