Tuesday, July 17, 2012

An Omnivore's Decision

There truly can be difficult decisions for a meat eater regarding the deplorable state of factory food.
Chicken, beef, and pork in the grocery stores comes from animals that are treated poorly and shot up with all sorts of drugs and chemicals. That milk that sits in the plastic container? Same deal there.
They are food that is run through the factory, not much differently from the box of cereal on the shelf.

That leaves a person a few of options.

1. Become a vegetarian, which I just don't see myself going without meat or dairy. I know people can live very healthy lives without meat, but I like meat. I LOVE cheese...REAL cheese. This route will not work for me.

2.  Buy directly from a local, small farmer. I can do that some. Remember that we are a family of 9 people, so financially I am not willing to buy all of our food locally. Milk and meat can get pricey due to the high cost paid out by that small farmer.

3. Grow your own. This is where I am today with milk and chicken. Next year, I hope to add beef and perhaps pork. I know what I am feeding these animals. I know how they are being treated under my care. I know that what I feed this family is healthy.

This past weekend we processed 26 cornish roasters that I raised on pasture using the Joel Salatin model of pasture raised poultry.

The process went smoothly and we now have  a freezer full of whole chickens (avg, weight of 5 lbs) plus I cut 10 up into parts. We have bags of wings, drum sticks, breasts, and backs (for making stock). I removed the bone from the thighs and cut them into chicken nugget size to make Birthday Chicken Nuggets.

                       My new Food Saver was a great tool for packaging up the parts.

I know this is not a process that many can undertake. In fact, a year ago I would not even buy chicken with bones. I have progressed a long way, and I hope to be the person to take this process on for my friends and customers who do not wish to deal with the job of "processing chickens." This is where my omnivore's dilemma has taken me.

I still have 100 birds on pasture, and I have to say that these chickens love the outdoors and they spend the day being chickens. They are healthy and I am happy that they will provide healthy meals to so many people.


Lucy is getting BIGGER! She is due to calve in only 2 weeks!

You can see how much her belly is bulging, and I can feel the calf when I press on her belly. She has no signs of impending labor yet such as bagging up or mucus from her back end.
Right now she is just enjoying her easy life and the late afternoon brushing we give her.
This week I plan to get a few supplies, in case we need them, such as a calf bottle and a calcium paste.


Goodness my bees are really hanging outside their hives. They are either too crowded or it's just too hot outside. Either way, bees tend to be a little cranky on these hot days with not much blooming so I have decided to just leave them alone and watch.

I planted some Mexican Sunflowers this year and cannot believe the huge butterflies that visit the blooms.
It's like I have my own butterfly garden, and they are really fun to snap pictures.

Tomorrow I will try and take a few pictures with my macro lens and see what I get.

This mother hen did a great job raising her babies and they have gotten big. I enjoy having some birds in the yard loose to eat ticks and to scratch up the messiness left behind by the meat birds when I move the cages each morning. If I could only keep them out of my tomato plants......

It has been a hot summer so far, but we have done so much as a family...working the garden, tending the chickens, caring for Lucy, hosting movie nights, and swimming with friends.

This omnivore turned a dilemma into an opportunity. The opportunity has turned into one great summer.


I am honored again this year to be nominated in Circle of Moms Top 25 Large Family Blogs.
If you get a hankering, will you pop over and give me a vote? I want badly to stay in with this group of fabulous mothers of large families. You can vote once per 24 hours and you'll find me at the #6 spot.

Enjoy the beauty in your day!


  1. We buy organic meat but it is very expensive for a family as big as mine. I now have one day a week where we have a vegetarian dinner and at least two days a week where we have fish instead of meat. This is the only way I can afford to continue eating organic. I would love to breed my chickens for meat but I have a tiny garden and don't think the neighbours would appreciate hearing a cockeral!

    1. Yes, roosters have a way of making themselves heard by all around them! Isn't it great to have laying hens though? Kids love them too!

  2. I assume from the title of this post that you've read The Ominvore's Dilemma? great book, so thought provoking. I still have not yet made the leap to raising my own meat birds, but we do have layers for eggs, and we buy our milk from a local farm (raw). At $4.50 a gallon, it's more expensive than the store, but worth it to me to not have to do it ourselves (like you're doing -- brava!!). Anyway, soon on the chickens. I hope.

    1. $4.50 a gallon is a steal! It goes for $8 a gallon here and $10 as you get closer to Atlanta. This explains why I opted to just buy the cow and milk myself...well, I also admit that I love having a cow. She's very sweet.

  3. Sam, this is such an important post and I commend you for your leadership and inspiration in encouraging others to take control of their own food and to reject factory-produced food. I buy our food almost entirely from local farms just outside of the city, including grass-fed beed and pastured chicken, CSA veggies, etc. I think it is absolutely critical that more Americans (re)assume direct control over their food to ensure its quality, healthfulness, and sustainability. Excellent post!


    1. Thanks, Kerry.
      Yes, imagine if more people bought locally? We have a couple of small CSAs here, but I am hoping the numbers will increase.

  4. I just found your blog through Circle of Moms. I only have a small CA lot in the city, but try to find ways to grow my own food and buy as locally as possible. You're right, it's not that easy with a larger family, especially on a one income in Silicon Valley budget. But everything I do is one step closer to better eating. We even have bees on our roof! Your bees are just hot. They make a "beard" outside the hive to bring air circulation to cool things down. Make sure you have a water source nearby so they can cool down too.

    1. Yes, the bees are very, very hot. Spring and summer came way too early here. I am sort of hoping for an early fall:-)

  5. Wow, Lucy looks amazing, she is glowing! She looks a very happy cow. We have come to the same decision as you about meat. This is our first year producing poultry for our own table. I must admit I am a bundle of nerves about getting them prepped but I do feel better in my heart if that makes sense. We'd like to try having pigs in a year or two, but I'm still trying to keep up with milking the goats. How do you manage time wise? I often feel like I am chasing my tail.

    1. I feel the same way...and I never get everything done. (sigh)
      We are actually diving into the pig thing this fall. I have reserved 2 piglets from a local farmer...so we will be raising a couple for meat as well. Hope we are ready!:-)

  6. I discovered your blog when I did a Google search for "raw milk ice cream". (I just got an ice cream maker yesterday & was Googling for recipes.) Glad I found it. I, too, am trying to produce more of my own food & buy the rest locally for health, environmental, and ethical reasons. I have 7 layers but I am not sure if I could kill meat birds myself. I like the idea of buying chicken from local farms where I can see how the birds are raised. As a nearly life-long vegetarian (NOT vegan -- I love cheese & ice cream), I have recently found my way back to eating poultry when it comes from a humane source. I am glad that I found your blog -- I will come back to read more about beekeeping and calving.

    1. I love, love, love raw milk ice cream! I have two people in the house who cannot eat store ice cream but have no trouble with raw milk products sooooo we make lots of ice cream here.

      I really is amazing the difference in life for these birds on a small scale farm versus commercial factory farming. Several years ago I was stuck behind a chicken truck driving up the mountain so I was forced to look at those poor chickens for an hour, crammed in those little cages. I didn't eat chicken for almost a year after that.

      Calving will be soon!

  7. Same here, searching for raw milk ice cream since I got a whole half-gallon of cream on sale. Wow...funny how prices vary so (noticing someone commenting on $4.50 a gallon above). We pay $21 a gallon for raw milk...yes PER gallon! Couldn't do that for a large family. Lovely blog, thanks for sharing!

    1. Oh my goodness that is some expensive milk! It fetches $8 a gallon here and many people think it's too high. Hope your ice cream is yummy!...I am sure it was!


Send some love....leave a comment!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...