Saturday, September 6, 2008

Surpises & Slow Food

Well, today turned out to be quite a shocker! We had originally planned to go camping this weekend since the game wasn't being televised ~then along came Hannah and much-needed rain. So, no camping. We decided instead to go pick up some chicken feed, as well as some straw, and move the tractor to the coop so that the gals could go inside and (hopefully) use the nest box for laying. We know the gals should begin laying anytime now & this would buy us some time until we build a nest box onto the tractor itself.
We were getting into the car when I heard it: a very faint crowing. As I've stated before, we live in "the City" and no-one nearby has chickens. Which means, if it is crowing it is our chickens. Apparently, what we thought was an Easter Egg hen turned out to be an Easter Egg Rooster!! We ran and got the feed, then came home and took care of the rooster. It was somewhat ironic as this was the only bird I had really named, and it was one of our prettier birds, I thought. Plus, the idea of getting blue & green eggs had really begun to grow on me, so that was a bit of a bummer. On the plus side though, we're now back up to 4 meat birds (since we still have 3 Speckled Sussex we're letting fatten up), and that is good. We cooked it for dinner and it was very tasty!! If you're going to eat meat, pasture raised is the way to go!
As the dinner was cooking, we all went out to begin work on the coop and tractor. Some re-figuring needed to be done, a wall taken out of the garden, and so on. As Justin was getting the hay, I walked over to the tractor to get ready to move it. Imagine my amazement to see a little egg there!! A friend told us that the first time her rooster crowed, the hens began laying the next day -- apparently that is a good indicator!

While we don't believe in "washing" the eggs (they are laid with a protective barrier that is removed when they are washed, leaving them vulnerable to bacteria), this one was pretty darn muddy, so I quickly & gently rinsed it off with my hands.
Shannon was particularly impressed with the whole thing. He has always loved going to get eggs from our friends' coop, and today he even carried a chicken (a Cochin, of course!) from the tractor to the coop! We were able to get him to eat all of his dinner by promising that, if he did, he could go out and look to see if the girls laid anymore eggs this evening. They hadn't, but tomorrow is another day and I am sure we'll be out there quite often!
Speaking of dinner: we were able to have a complete Slow Food meal, most of it local! We had the chicken/rooster (or Eugenie, since that had been it's wrongly-sexed name), some chili that I made with organic dry beans bought at the co-op and tomatoes we got at the Farmer's Market, topped with raw milk garlic-colby cheese!! What a fantastic feast!!

The cheese we bought from a local farmer-friend, but it did have to cross state lines to get here so I suppose it isn't truly local. But, still, raw milk cheese from pasture raised & organic cows!! DELIGHTFUL!
I know to some of you it must seem odd that I can type about killing a named bird and cooking it for dinner (and then show a photo to boot!). While I repsect everyone's right to choose what is right for themselves and their family, we have that right as well. We don't kill what we don't need. We make sure our food, when it was alive, led the type of lives animals were meant to live. With our chickens, we've even taken the step to raise heritage and rare breeds, trying to help ensure that these breeds aren't wiped out.
It is truly the deepest feeling of satisfaction to know the life our food lived, to know that not only were they happy but they're healthier for us to eat and significantly so! To know that I can fix my children a meal made from these things makes me feel like I have succeeded. And, too often, like most parents I assume, I tend to feel like a failure as a parent. To know that the food my kids eat (or a majority of it) is some of the best and healthiest food they can ever possibly hope to eat, well, it is a primal goal that we have accomplished. It leaves me content to the very core of my being.


Anonymous said...

I am so envious! Our family has go to get it together and raise our own chickens! I'd like to do ducks too but I need to study up on that first.

We live in Floyd for goodness sake, there's no reason not to have chickens. AND we don't live next door to a "Oscar the Grouch" like you guys do!


Carrie and Justin said...

I was really hesitant about chickens at first, until I started doing research on them. I found sites like & as well as saw how much chicken coops can vary & look really nice!
A lot of days I wish we lived up in Floyd, but I do love Salem and where we live. I just wish people could get over their prejudices about what they think "city living" has to be!

Vicki said...

Good for you Carrie and great for your family. I am half-way thru Real Food and pleased to see the mention of Adele Davis whom I read when i started my family.

Anonymous said...

That sounds so fun to have fresh eggs! We have too many foxes and coyotes out here in the "woods". We do have rabbits in a hutch but they are not the eatin kind! We are too attached to them!