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Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care

April 4, 2008

 Eggs for sale
 Click for Full Size View 

If you know us, you probably identify us with chickens and eggs.  My husband goes by the name of Eggman quite often.  But, over the last several years the grain situation was changing.  We could see the handwriting on the wall.  We had a successful business selling pastured eggs and pastured meat chickens, but the high use of grain just didn’t sit well with the farm’s more natural rhythms.  The mere thought of the amount of fossil fuel required get that end product of grain to our farm, was starting to feel like a heavy junk food meal in our collective stomachs. 

 It took more than a year to decide to quit raising poultry, and then at least 6 -8 months to phase out of the business.  It was an emotional decision to just quit.  Who wants to fail?  Not me!  Too many sewing and cooking contests in 4-H and Grange, I’m competitive.  We started to realize that we weren’t failing.  If we kept on, we would just be whipping the dead horse, so to speak.

Our pastured flock – food, water, nest boxes, shade and electrified netting.  1/3 acre.
Click for Full Size View
We moved this every three days during the grazing season.  On a 10 acre pasture, by moving the skid in “lands” we achieved 85 days of rest for the sward.

So how to get rid of 700+ laying hens?  We started by stopping.  We didn’t raise any replacements, so we had only12 month old hens to find homes for.  We had a buyer, “Chief Mike”  who took most of our spent hens and resold them.  But, he usually bought the hens after they were less  productive.  He wanted a discount and we wanted a good price because the hens were still laying at a pretty good clip.  It would be a shame to stew them so early.  We put the word out to friends and anyone we could think of that might want to start out with eggs the next day instead of raising baby chicks.

We were able to sell quite a few to friends and neighbors who wanted to update their flocks.  Within the Portland city limits you can keep three hens, so our friends in town practicing urban homesteading took some and stewed their older hens.  Several chefs who bought our eggs also jumped at the chance.  But we still had quite a few to get rid of.  An urban farmer friend put us in touch with two of her CSA shareholders who were interested in starting a close-in egg co-op.  Finding out these people were urban homesteaders was a relief to us, we wanted our hens to go to people who cared, and this was the answer!  Thanks Holly and Patrick!!!

 Here is where the story continues for our rural ladies who went to town!  This  link is for a video of the hen co-op by Rebecca Gerendasy of Cooking Up a Story.

Also there is a wonderful article in edible Portland, a local magazine celebrating everything to do with local food.

It still hasn’t been a complete year without the large flock.  Sometimes we miss them, but an “egg dairy” wasn’t for us on many levels.  Just knowing that we aren’t as big a part of the “problem” helps.  We always felt using so much grain was competing for human food.  Our cows have helped us for years by maintaining our landscape, now they can get credit for helping the environment. too.

We have recently found out the Eggman is allergic to guess what?  EGGS!!  It was meant to be.  Coo Coo Achoo!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 4, 2008 9:56 pm

    I’d just like to have a dozen laying hens but the Bossman is “allergic” too. More like he hates chickens.

  2. matronofhusbandry permalink*
    April 4, 2008 10:00 pm

    We kept 2 dozen, but now with the latest food allergy, I’m giving a dozen to my girlfriend for her birthday.

    One dozen hens will be plenty. The dogs get an egg yolk a day, that leaves the rest for us.

  3. April 7, 2008 7:35 pm

    I have recovered from our large tourist festival and am back online catching up with reading.
    I watched the show about the egg coop. What a cool idea!
    Isn’t it funny how the Universe works about your husband’s egg allergies? Nice to have confirmation that a tough decision was right, I’ll bet.

  4. matronofhusbandry permalink*
    April 8, 2008 3:39 am

    Colleen, It is funny – it’s just the way it goes.

    I’m glad the festival is past for you, is the bush still running? Or is the season over. I thought of you when I had to buy maple syrup – he’s allergic to cane sugar too!

  5. May 14, 2008 5:14 pm

    You are living the dream! My husband and I can’t wait to have LAND! We currently live on three acres of Georgia clay and are trying to make a go of it but we both long for acres of land to worry over and tend to. We can’t wait to see fields of our chickens, our turkeys, and our cattle.

    Blessings to you!

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