Walked the Walk

Today I earned some farm cred.  I talked the talk and walked the walk.  Today I took my 15 cornish cross chickens to the poultry processor.  For the last 8 weeks I have been raising my chickens for this day and I honestly wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it.

At first they were lovely little yellow chicks and the day was far away.  They peeped and didn’t mind being picked up and were quite lovely then they grew and grew and grew.  They were still great chickens, low key mellow eating machines.

It was amazing how fast they developed.

I didn’t grow up on farm.  The closest I got to it was riding after school with my mom on horseback through local parks.  This was a huge leap for me, and I didn’t know how I would feel.  Don’t get me wrong I really liked these chickens.  I loved watching them grow and go about their chicken business.  I really enjoyed raising them.  But, they were bought and raised for a specific purpose.  That purpose was eating them.  A lot of people will say (and have said) “poor chickens”.  The cornish cross breed is genetically engineered to grow fast for meat purposes.  They grow extremely quickly but because of this have poor long term quality of life.  Their organs don’t develop well and they can suffer from heart attacks.   Thus, keeping these chickens long term can be inhumane.

They are different than my layer chickens (marans and jersey giants).  They didn’t understand the roosts which caused them to be dirtier as they often laid in their own poo.  They also did not actively forage or see my 160lb mutt as a threat.   Frankly, they weren’t very smart.  But I still liked them.  I would talk to them and visit them and smile as they wandered around in the chicken yard.  I didn’t know how I was going to feel when the actual day came.

Well, the day did come.  I scheduled my appointment with the processor, confirmed that everything was done humanely and the Mr built me a cage for the back of my car to transport them in.  I woke up earlier than normal and after feeding the goats, geese, ducks, turkeys I gathered up – with the wonderful help from the Mr – all the chickens that were to go.  We loaded them into the car and I made my way to Boring Oregon.

I can tell you 2 things from this trip.  I love my car.  Love it more than any car I could possibly own.  It holds my huge mutt, and now 15 chickens in a custom cage quite easily. #2 chickens in my car STINK.  Odd because chickens in the coop do not smell.  It was gross.  Thankfully I could roll down the windows a bit and the smell was sucked out.  Also chickens in a car with open windows will send feathers flying in your face. 😦

I dropped the chickens off at 8am and I can’t tell you that I didn’t feel a little guilty when I left them there to meet their chicken maker.  I mulled over how people would react to this post or how I would write it.  I pictured their faces and remembered how many times I crawled on my knees in chicken poop to get them out from under the coop.  I worried that I was starting to doubt myself.

Then it was done and I picked up 15 fully dressed chickens.  It helped that they looked like the best fresh chickens you’d see in a fancy organic grocery store.  They looked wonderful packaged up and I knew I had made the right decision.  I knew this because here in front of me were 15 chickens ready for oven and freezer.  These chickens had a wonderful live full of eating all they could, pecking grass for bugs, and laying in the sun with legs stretched out.  These chickens would feed my family with wholesome nutrition.  Everytime I will cook one of these birds it will be with extreme thought and care.  These meals will be artfully prepared with out a bit of waste.  They will not be just food, they will be a mini feast.  They will not just be slapped in the oven and forgotten, they will be rubbed with fresh herbs, coated with homemade butter, and roasted with the best vegetables.

I know that not everyone thinks they could do this.  I had never thought I could do this.  Less than a year ago I lived in a sprawling suburb on the west coats between LA and Santa Barbara.  Now I’m raising my own animals for my own table as well as preparing a harvest from my own garden.  It is a change of life and a change of perspective.

These days everyone talks about eating local.  It is environmentally sound and helps support local economies.  More and more I believe this is the way to go for my family.  Local markets, farmers markets, and raising what I can.  I’m even thinking about growing hops to brew my own beer.  Maybe next year. 

I enjoyed raising these chickens so much that I went straight to the farm store and replaced my stock.  22 new Red Cornish chickens are in their brooder in my garage.  Unfortunately they are cuter and more distinct.  Maybe one will get a stay of execution if people really have a problem with it.  Frankly I’m proud of myself.  I raised my own food in a way few people do these days.

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9 thoughts on “Walked the Walk

  1. Good for you! I’m an extraordinarily squeamish person when it comes to meat (poultry on the bone turns my stomach), so I’m extra impressed. Not to mention feeling a bit guilty about our own meat sources…sigh…

    Anywho, this is about YOU and the excellent thing you’re doing! Way to go! I bet that first chicken meal is going to taste incredible.

  2. I think it is so awesome that you did this. My grandparents raised their own food for the same reasons yous say in your post. There is something about raising the animals yourself (as opposed to buying the meat in the store) that makes you appreciate it that much more.

    Boring is, like 3 miles from Sandy. you were in my neck of the woods! 🙂

  3. You did the right thing and you should be proud that you are self-reliant.

    I have raised rabbits, plucked feathers out of turkeys and buck shot out of geese, and made the best damn-gravy-ever from a deer shot locally.

    It is a wonderful feeling preparing food for your family that you have raised and knowing that the animal was treated with dignity.

    Hell, I get excited making lemonade from my own damn lemon tree!

  4. that is a huge plunge and you did great, don’t forget that while the chickens were alive they had great quality of life. not confined to a dirty wire cage where they could not move…and after all they are chickens…you are rediscovering your roots girl…i can still remember going to aunt effies and going with her in the chicken yard seeing her grab a chicken and chop off its head for sunday dinner..now that was eatting local…
    lovemom

  5. Kudos to you lady. I am way impressed and very proud that you guys are doing all this really cool stuff! I definitely look up to you!

    • Awww thank you. It was definitely different but I dind’t feel bad about it. How are you doing Mrs Director Of Opperations? Preita

  6. I think this is so cool! I bet those chickens will be delicious.

    My bf has been trying to grow his own hops for brewing but it is difficult to grow things around here (cold, wet, dark).

    I wish I could have chickens but no way could I keep Oso away from them!

  7. Preita, your blog is great! I came here from Ravelry. Poor chickens, but that’s life, and you did right by them.

    I wonder where you lived between SB and LA. I’m from Goleta and used to drive that stretch all the time visiting relatives in Ventura, Oxnard, Simi Valley…I also lived in Oxnard myself for about 9 months and worked in Camarillo. I really miss the pretty scenery around there.

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