Friday, September 28, 2012

Farm Friday - Meat-n-Greet

If you follow along here, you'll have seen some pictures I posted on Wednesday.

And you probably made an involuntary noise that sounded something like

awwwww
or
ohmygoshhowCUTE
or
fbrdywubitz

because, come on now...















With any luck, you're fully recovered by now from the anaphacuteness shock your system endured.

So it is time for a proper introduction.

The above dollops of cuteness are adorable, there's no denying it, but I'm afraid their days are numbered. These chicks are not destined to grow old and wise and fat while they lay eggs in between pecking at the ground and doing the chicken dance.

They are fated for the dinner table.

I'll wait for the gasps and cries of outrage to die down.

.....whistle, whistle.....

.....files nails....

Are you done?


I know, I'm a monster. I must hate animals, right?

And all of you Judgy McJudgersons are vegetarians, I presume?

No?

Well then I turn the judgement right back onto you with my jedi powers.

See, here's my twisted logic:

I care about animals.

And I had known for a long time about the deplorable conditions in the factory farms that are the source of all the meat we buy from the grocery store, but whenever I bought that sterile-looking meat all wrapped up in plastic and styrofoam, I hummed a little tune and thought unrelated thoughts and purchased away.

But then my dtr Rosie tied me up and forced me to watch this video so I would have to face what it was I was feeding into, if you'll excuse the pun.


(warning: if you watch this, know that it is extremely graphic and horrible and will likely make you puke and cry all at the same time)





And I was, of course, horrified.

Almost horrified enough to join Rosie in her pledge to be a vegetarian.

Almost.

Couldn't quite do it
(although I do now feed the family vegetarian meals once or twice a week)
and I applaud her for her continued committment to taking a pass on the bacon.

And to buy meat that's raised organically and free range and all that good stuff is ridiculously expensive. Like $10 a pound expensive, which is more than I'm willing to pay.

But hello, what's this? I have a farm. I've already proven I can successfully raise laying chickens, why not try my hand at raising meat birds? For maybe a little more than what I would pay in the grocery store, but far less than I would pay for organic free-range, I can humanely raise (and humanely kill) meat for my table that hasn't been pumped full of antibiotics.

Of course, I won't do the killing. I know myself a little too well to think I can do that. I'll send them out for "processing", at least for this first go-round.

Then I'll get back a dozen birds all cleaned and plucked and ready for the freezer.  Ready to feed our family.  With any luck, we'll be able to enjoy a few tasty chicken pot pies and chicken noodle casseroles and chicken quesadillas knowing we gave those dozen chicks a nice life on a farm for their seven short weeks of life, with clean bedding and fresh air, and plenty of space to move around.

And if I consider this a success?  My friend Theresa and I will be expanding next summer, upping our order to 50 chicks split between us. Maybe more than that the following summer.

And who knows, maybe I could even bring myself to raise a pig or cow for pork and beef.

Why?
Because we like to eat meat,
and because we care about animals.

Now taking bets to see if I will be able to stay the course or if I will wimp out..







***************************


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Thanks!


***************

In case you didn't know it, I'm like the queen of blog-hoppin' lately. It's kind of like square dancing but without the dated outfits, smelly gym, and elderly caller.

Here's the schedule I keep:
Monday: Homestead Revival's Barn Hop, and The Chicken Chick's Clever Chicks Blog Hop
Tuesday: Heavenly Homemaker's Gratituesday
and Wrinkled Mommy's Tuesday Archive Link-Up
Wednesday: My Life and Kids Finding the Funny
Thursday: A Rural Journal's Rural Thursday Blog Hop
Friday: Deborah Jean's Dandelion House's Farmgirl Friday, and Little Becky Homecky's Fantabulous Friday
Saturday: Camera Critter's Life With Dogs Pet Blogger Hop and Country Momma Cooks Saturday Link-Up

Since today is Friday, that means I'm linking Tuesday's post "Mmmm-mmm-Mini-Cinnis" with Little Becky Homecky's Fantabulous Friday, and today's post with Deborah Jean's Dandelion House's Farmgirl Friday, but I'll also be linking this same post up with some of the hops listed above in the coming week. Come join the fun!

40 comments:

  1. I had no idea you could send chickens out to be processed. Several years ago we did a flock of meat chickens, which we then "cleaned" ourselves. The meat was good, but it was just too much work for us to do our few chickens. I doubt that you will trouble sending the chickens off, especially if you got strict meat chickens. You'll be ready. You will be able to with a pig or cow, too, because it boils down to caring about what you eat and where it comes from.

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    1. Yeah, I think I will, Coop. Mentally, I'm getting more and more ready for this. I KNOW this is the right thing to do!

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  2. I didn't watch the video, I couldn't. I think you might be interested in the movie "Food inc." it is graphic, but hey the truth hurts. We butcher all our own birds, we buy in batches of 200 chicks, and raise them out non GOM, and organic. So, on a yearly bases, we are moving around 1400-ish bird through. People always ask me "is it hard?" but really it isn't, before we did chickens we did cattle(we did NOT butcher them our self). My dad has always told me, that in order for a human to live something must die, and right now, that something is an animal.
    But my Dad also taught me that they should be treated with a kind hand, until they are dead. Once someone helped load a bunch of hogs onto the trailer. That were going to slaughter in the morning, and Dad and I sprayed them with water once they were on, and then my dad said that we need to bed them down, because when the night air gets to them, they will be cold. This person (no names) said "whats the point they are going to die in the morning" my dad said "yes they are, they are going to die so that you can eat don't you think that they should be comfortable while they are alive?".
    It is so upsetting the things that people do to food, they have no respect for these animals. Sorry, you got me going, this is a topic that I can go on and on and on about. Anyway, good luck, if you have any questions, just email me, I would be glad to help :)
    Neighgirl
    whinnyandwhimsy@gmail.com

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    1. Thanks, Neighgirl, I totally agree with you. I'm getting myself more and more psyched about the whole process, b/c I know it's right, and it's really how I want to start doing things. I just wish more people could find a way to not use meat from the factory farms. They're so cruel.

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    2. I know, its nightmarish. If you look at how the factory farms handle vegetables, you can get an idea about just how bad they treat animals. A lot of people want to eat healthy (not all),but it is a large expense, and you really need the resources.
      Have you ever heard the saying "he who looks the most will see the most" sadly people are to wrapped up to bother to look at all.
      Sorry I am NOT going to write another 3 page essay:P
      Neighgirl

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    3. Never apologize for your "essays", Neighgirl! Love reading/hearing from other impassioned people! Plus it beefs up my confidence in moving forward with this. So thank you!

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  3. Granddaddy raised all of his own meat,butchered,processed, and in the case of his hams, even smoked them. I commend you for giving these chicks a good and happy life until....shhhhh....they are killed. Did you check out The Little Red Farmhouse blog a couple of days ago? Great pictures on the harvesting process. Good luck!

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    1. I did see that! Interesting timing, right? I wanted to comment, but saw that she had closed comments. If a city girl like her can do it, I should be able to. Wish me luck!

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  4. Hello, new follower here by way of Deborah Jean's Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop! Stopping in to invite you to my first, weekly Blog Hop! I’d love to have you link up with us!
    http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/09/clever-chicks-blog-hop-1.html
    Cheers,
    Kathy
    The Chicken Chick

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kathy! Thanks for stopping by, and for following! Off to check out your hop. I loves me some hops!

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    2. Thanks for partying with us! Hope to see you back next week with another Clever post! ☺

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    3. I'll be there, Kathy. With bells on!

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  5. Hey there!

    (I absolutely Love Kathy Morminos' blog and refer to it often for my own small flock. Didn't know she hosted a hop - I will have to check it out.)
    I try to use as little meat as possible in our meals and do at least on vegetarian a week. It's hard 'cause we do love the meat!
    I had to "off" one of my layers a few months ago because she was always getting sick (weakened immune system maybe). It was HARD. We did it after she was all better and sickness free and meds free. It was a half days work to process her from start to finish. I learned I can't emotionally handle taking the life, not to mention the exhausting work it is to set up and do a proper, hygienic processing! The rest of my layers will never be eaten by us and will live spoiled lives as egg laying pets (check them out on my blog here http://mossytrees.blogspot.com/p/chickens.html ).
    But, I also won't spend a fortune or a lifetime to cater to an injury or illness or let them be in unnecessary pain, but rather, make an educated and thoughtful decision to "put down" as humanely as possible if necessary. I also considered raising meaties (until the one I processed). PLEASE post about the experience and the cost involved from chick to table. If I can find a complete processor around here (kill to shrink-wrapped) and it be worth the cost vs buying I may consider giving it a go. Although, I would have to build them a separate predator-proof hutch on the other side of the property and not hold them or talk to them, or look into their cute little chickie eyes... would that be inhumane? Also, are you doing broiler cornish crosses or freedom rangers? Keep us posted and best wishes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing about your chickens, Danielle, and about your poor hen you had to put down. Sorry you had to go through that. It is definitely not going to be easy for me, but of course having someone else do "the dirty work" will make it 1000x more bearable. And my mind is already "there", as I knew from the get-go what they are for. I also think it will help to know that b/c of the breed I purchased (Cornish-Rock crosses), they ouldn't live much longer, and certainly not healthy lives, if I changed my mind at the last minute. Genetically, they just can't live much past a couple months.
      I will do as you requested and give a break-down of all costs involved for you in one of my Farm Friday posts.

      Thanks again for stopping in and commenting....

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  6. I give you loads of credit for doing this. I personally could never eat an animal I had raised but your reasons for doing so are spot on. I'm just a huge wimp!

    Anyway, new follower here. Could I persuade you to come share at my Farm Girl Blog Fest: http://fresh-eggs-daily.blogspot.com/2012/09/farm-girl-friday-blog-fest-2.html

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    Replies
    1. Hi Lisa, thanks for the follow! Fingers crossed to see if I can stay the course with my meat chickens. Wish me luck!
      Off to check out your blog fest!

      Delete
  7. I could only watch the video for a few seconds with the sound off and it was tooooo much!! It's makes me so sad the way animals are treated in the name of production...sigh. My grandparents had chickens and hogs for meat and my grandfather brought home rabbits, squirrels and snakes for dinner, but I always thought I'd be a vegan if I had to do the killing myself. We've been thinking of adding chickens and goats, but only for eggs and milk. I'm a wimp too...never got into hunting because of it, but who knows. I'd love to see how this goes for you. Good for you!!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Homesteading, thanks for your thoughts. I'm with you, I'm a total wimp. It's taken me a lot of schizophrenic conversations with myself, and a few "forced viewings" of this video and oters, to get to the point where I can raise animals knowing that I will be eating them. But I really feel so strongly now that it's the right thing to do that I've committed to actually giving it a go. Wish me luck!

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  8. Wow! Thank you for being so honest and open with your heart. I could not bear to watch the video (thanks for the heads up) but I am aware of the awful reality out there. I am so proud of you! Thank you for linking up to the blog hop again! It has been such a pleasure having you part of it. ~Melissa

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  9. Thanks so much, Tilly!
    And thanks for hosting such an awesome blog hop!

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  10. Anne,

    I found your blog through the Tilly's Nest Blog Hop and I'm hooked already!

    I agree wholeheartedly with what everyone has been saying. More than anything it comes down to showing respect to the animals that give their lives to sustain us. Unfortunately we currently live in a subdivision that doesn't allow any type of "livestock" so we are making due the best we can. I look forward to reading about your experiences.

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    1. Hi Kim, so good to have you here! I'm glad you agree. I thought maybe I'd get blasted for my choice, but so far all I've gotten is support. If I didn't live on a farm, I'd be stumped, too, so I figure the people who CAN raise their own SHOULD raise their own, if they can stomach it. Trying to be brave, here.

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  11. We raise our own meat birds. I won't do the butchering - I only do the cooking! My husband does the bad part.

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    1. I'm with you, Lisa. I don't think I could do it. Good for your hubby!

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  12. caring for animals is (for me) about treating them with dignity and respect. i live in a place where i cant buy organic meat and i hate the thought of eating meat and veg that has been filled with god-knows-what. i long for a time when i have a home big neough to raise my own chickens and grow all the produce that i want.

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    1. I hope your dreams come tru, Kamana. Thanks for stopping in!

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  13. is it odd for me to say that although the video is disturbing - I knew all about this - I did grow up in IA. A lot of people I know work at these types of plants - so I'm not sad about it b/c I know they can feed their families with this job. I grew up on a farm - animals are food! Simple as that. Good luck with your chickens - they really are THE best thing to eat ever! Fresh!

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    1. Animals are food, I agree with you there, Tiara. That's why I didn't choose to go vegetarian. However, I do think humane treatment is the least we can give them back in return, so I don't agree when you say "simple as that". Just b/c we're going to end up killing them and eating them, doesn't mean we can't give them humane treatment while they're being raised. The people who work in the factories would still have their jobs, the only difference would be the treatment of the animals.

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  14. This is a great honest post. I am a farmer and you hit the nail on the head. Great job:) B

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    1. Thanks Buttons! Just trying to find the balance.

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  15. Sounds like you are taking good steps toward raising and eating animals that were cared for in their lifetimes. Thanks for linking up with Tuesday Greens.

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    1. Thanks, Becky, that is what I'm trying for.
      Thanks for hosting the hop!

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  16. I love reading all your comments - everyone has such thoughtful opinions. I have a huge respect for all of you who can humanely raise and then subsequently kill your animals. I really do. That's a hugely brave thing to do, in my opinion.

    I just can't do it.

    I fell in love with my husband almost 30 years ago the night he explained why he was a vegetarian. He said, "If I can't kill an animal, I shouldn't ask someone else to kill one for me." I immediately became a vegetarian too - just made sense.

    I currently have 14 layer chickens along with an adopted goat and pig. I could no more kill them than I could our family dog. They all have personalities, quirks, bad days and best friends.

    And besides, a homegrown tomato sandwich is the best meal ever!

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    1. Hi Joan, thanks for your comments. My respect goes right back to you (and your husband) for being vegetarians. What a thoughtful way to put your reasoning! That's what I SHOULD be doing (like my dtr), but I can't. So the next logical choice for me is to buy meat that comes from humanely raised animals. Since buying it is too expensive, that leaves raising it.
      The meat chickens is a perfect first step for me with this, b/c I know the breed I got wouldn't live much longer than 8 or 10 weeks if I wimped out and couldn't go through with it. Plus they would be very uncomfortably sick with medical problems (heart, legs). So these chickens are fated to die at a young age whether I kill them or not. A harder choice for me will be pigs. Again, I love pigs enough to give them a good life before they die, but I once had a pet pig, so that's going to be a true test of my committment to this!

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  17. We butchered about 25 roosters one day, the old fashioned way, and to be truthful, you get used to the process and can do it, if necessary.

    Not a fan of those shock-and-awe animal videos. They serve no purpose other than to give ranchers and farmers a bad name. There's always going to be a few loose cannons in any business. Just my opinion. Good post.

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    1. Hi Nancy, thanks for chiming in. I have mixed feelings about those types of videos. On the one hand, much of it is standard animal practice, even on smaller farms, but it's things that do add "shock and awe" value, as you said. However, there are many practices on these factory farms that need to be abolished, such as "battery cages" and small confinement for pigs, and of course, any cruel treatment. I figure if they make a few more people look more closely at their meat options, then they've done some good.

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  18. We processed our first batch of meat chickens this year after having laying hens for 15 years. It wasn't easy, but we built a whizbang plucker and that helped (at least with the plucking part!) After about a week's break after the slaughter from eating chicken, we started eating them and they are great! We know these chickens had a happy (but short) life and were handled with respect.

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    1. Good for you! You give me hope that I can do this.

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  19. How I wish we could raise chickens! It is just not in the cards right now. We buy the expensive pastured meat from farms we have visited and eat happy healthy meat but it IS expensive. I could probably go back to store bought meat if we were starving... but honestly the thought makes me gag. I didnt even watch the video. ITs almost bed time.

    Thanks for sharing on Natural Living Monday! I am excited to see what you have going on this week. http://www.naturallivingmamma.com/2012/10/07/natural-living-monday-5/

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    1. Good for you, Amanda, for forking over the big bucks to take a stand for the human treatment of animals! Here's hoping you can have chickens of your own one day.
      Thanks for hosting the hop!

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