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It’s no wonder…

October 25, 2008

people feel a disconnect when it comes to food.  The “food” in the stores bears no resemblance to food as I know it.  I realized today how intimate our life is with our food, and our basic needs.  I take that for granted sometimes, because we have food everywhere you look.  It is a herculean task to grow a variety of food and preserve and store it.  People are now relearning how to take care of themselves, some by choice, and some by economics, and it is hard.  It’s hard for us, and we live it everyday.  We are responsible for our water, firewood, and most of our food.   I earned my degree right here, I have no idea what label to put on my last 50 years of learning, but maybe that’s where the difference lies.  I have lots of friends who went to college.  Some are working in their chosen profession and others are doing something entirely different.  But what they all have in common is that they put an expiration date on their learning.  “When I earn my degree, I’m done schooling!”  Shelf life for learning.  Done.  I haven’t quit learning.  Each day, and each season brings something new for me to ponder.  I now am helping friends learn how to garden, can, and sew.  Most of these things were things we were doing in high school.  But, I’ve kept doing it, and now I’m fairly good at it. 

I lose my patience when people tell me they couldn’t possibly eat Fluffy or Buttercup.  And, if you don’t eat meat that’s fine, but if you do, you should be able to look that animal in the eye at every stage of its life.  We all live and die.  When I have animals here I raise strictly for meat, I take my job very seriously.  They are treated well, no matter what their lifespan or planned use will be.  Our animals aren’t some faceless chunk of meat or a jug of milk.  It’s no wonder when a new homesteader is confronted with the actual deed, it is daunting.  My milk cow bears no resemblance to a row of milk jugs in the store.  She’s a living, breathing thing, that thinks and reasons and depends on me for her survival.  She pees, craps and eats (a lot of all those) but she always gives and gives. 

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The milk is in there baby, come and get it!

The simple life isn’t always so easy.  Della lost her calves this year, and her daughter, Jetta lost her calf too.  Then I butchered Jetta.  I won’t go into it here, if you’re new to the blog you will have to check the archives, it’s all there. 

On the subject of bad, you may be wondering why I haven’t posted about the turkeys, since they have been here since the end of July.  I have enjoyed every day they have been here, because I love my turkeys.  They are smart, bright, and fun to be around.  They always come to you, and they look you in the eye.  I love to talk to them, and hear all the different things they have to say.  Are they pets, no, do I enjoy them, yes.

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Are you looking at me?

I had a bad feeling when the turkeys came.  Several were dead in the box already.  Our procedure when we receive them, is to dip their beaks in water, and then in the food, and then place them under the heat lamps.  So many felt too light, and looked weak.  In the back of my mind, I could hear my friend telling me that the hatchery I used was no good anymore, and everybody who purchased from them was having bad luck.  He is more negative than me, (if you can believe that) so I always listen with a grain of salt, but this time he was right.

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This deformed turkey never should have been sent out.  I had to put him out of his misery.
He has no legs – this is the problem with industrial breeds, and even some heritage breeds because the gene pool is so limited.  These birds have to be artificially inseminated because by the time they are old enough to breed they are so large they can’t do the job.  But, this is what people have demanded for so long, more meat, more milk, more uniform fruit, more reliable vegetables.  It’s all the same.  It’s also a sign of the times, when the worker at the hatchery, just mindlessly sends out a poult that should have been put down right away and notes taken as to why and  how often.  Humans are getting more and more self-centered, and less and less conscientious.

I know it sounds easy to raise heritage breeds, but I need to make a profit.  This isn’t a hobby for me.  If I raised a bird with a slower grow out time, I would be volunteering my time for someone else to have a nice feel good Thanksgiving.  Vegetarians buy our turkeys.  Why is it OK to eat turkey then, and not the rest of the year?  This is what I mean, about being intimate with your food, maybe it has to be baby steps, and I’m naive in thinking people will ever try to grow a good share of their food.  And, if it gets sick or diseased, take the loss.  People are too babied and insulated.  Buying your food at the farmers market, or even from me, you are insulated.  You will eat beef, and turkey and pork, but you didn’t have to see my heart wrenching at the sight of Della fall to her knees while the vet pulled her calves.  Or watch me kill that baby turkey in front on my daughter and explain why that cull should not have left the hatchery, and now that we have to call them and tell them to deduct the price of that bird. I know by growing these Broad Breasted White turkeys, I’m feeding the machine.  But, sometimes, I feel like I stepped off the merry-go-round, only to look back and see everybody else is still on there having a good time.  It’s OK to complain about industrial farming practices, but when it comes down to it, my customers are usually particular.  They need a certain size turkey for a holiday feast.  Or it has to be a hen or tom, well after the eggs and testicles are out, and they have been in ice water for a while, they all look alike.  I can pretty much guarantee you I won’t have a 25# hen, but I will have a bunch of 18#ers.  So maybe I need new customers, but you know what, I like my customers, and they want a consistent product from me.  They want to know that their turkey had a good life, no matter what color his feathers are.  The prettiest turkey I have ever seen, was a Sweet Grass turkey, and it is a heritage breed from Oregon.  But to find them and breed them, and keep them safe would be a labor of love.  But, for now I will love these whities while they are here.  Their feathers rustle like satin, and if you have ever made a formal out of satin, you know what I mean.   We try to sneak up on them and they are like a pack of watch dogs, chirping hello.  If a stranger comes near, they sound the alarm.  They are smart, and funny and we visit them often outside of chore time.  But they bear no likeness to the shrink wrapped, basted turkey available year-round in the store.  They are the same breed, but I would like to think I have enriched my turkeys quality of life as much as they have enriched mine. 

 I go to the store, I see the food there, it is all neat and tidy and convenient.  It is not dirty, mean or bloody.  And it takes no time at all for the consumer to pick it up and pay for it.  And what I see at the store, is people too impatient to even realize they are buying food.  We need it everyday, we love it, (or so we say) but we are perturbed when it takes awhile in line to get it.  Fast food isn’t just at the drive-up, it’s everywhere except where people are taking an active part in producing slow food.  I didn’t mean this to be a rant, but oh well…on a lighter note here is my day in food, and at the end, for Chris and Jamay, my proof I have OCD (obsessive canning disorder)  🙂


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So that’s what those pileated applewoodpeckers have been eating.  They will be fine in applesauce for breakfast.  Just cut out the damaged parts and the rest is fine.

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If the idea of lots of stored food scares you – do not proceed beyond this point.
 I present the Fruit Room!  Around here that’s what the basement food storage areas are called.


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This is close to a two year supply.  When I’m finally done preserving for the year, I will make a pantry page, with tallies, homegrown or purchased, etc.

45 Comments leave one →
  1. October 26, 2008 12:28 am

    I love this post, Nita. I’m one of the people who never had to see the face of what they ate. But the desire to raise our own food, including the meat animals, is so strong in us we’re trying as much as we can to prepare our minds for it ahead of time, if that’s possible. We’re reading up on those subjects, as unsavory as they may be, so we can acclimate. It will be a big day for me when I can slit the throat or cut the head off a chicken someday, not that I want to at all. But I need the skill so that I’m not dependent on anyone else if I want to eat chicken. Slaughtering sheep or goats would be even harder, I think. But again, why would I hand this off to someone who shields me from it in an impersonal way when I was the one who cared for these animals from start to finish? At least that is my personal challenge to myself…to have the joys and then the sit-down cry, and know that if I eat it, I realize the cost. Hmmm. Like I said, easier said than done, but it’s a personal challenge to myself.
    About your canned goods, WOW….you totally rock, Nita! That is a LOT of growing, picking, cleaning, chopping etc to finally get all those home canned reserves. Awesome!! 🙂

    • scott permalink
      November 3, 2010 7:40 pm

      I just want to say I found this blog and I love it. I am also one of those people who buy their food at the store 95 percent of the time. And I do hate standing in line at the grocery store. But its usually the very slow checker who works at walmart im upset with. But i also have bought loclal beef, sheep, chicken and eggs, as well as other tasty critters. But I helped haul the feed as well as feed and water on occaion as well as participate in the slaughter of the animal. But it was on my mothers neighboors place and i liked to help out and see how it was done. And to be honest for the price i find that the meat TASTES SO MUCH BETTER than bought at a store. I think that people who partipate in the raising of the animal and once it comes time for slaugter will appreciate what you are eatting more so than buying it. You also have the benifit of not havin meat that is dyed or might have hormones in them or ecoli…..
      I love the blog…

  2. October 26, 2008 3:40 am

    Great post….as always. The disconnect between people and the source of their food is a nightmare, which is in the end going to hurt them and us I fear.

  3. mom to kids permalink
    October 26, 2008 5:34 am

    Beautiful pantry! And you make it so easy to understand how far most people are from knowing where their food really comes from.

    I would suggest you look into selling some photos. Many local businesses, libraries, hospitals, and offices will display for you. Our niece sells framed 8×10 BW photos of cows for forty to sixty dollars a piece in the Chicago area. They are not as good as yours, but they are nice, very stark and almost sad in the black/white effect. There is a market for beautiful photography. If you could create a spread of related photos and display them somewhere you might find a market. Your vegetable photos are especially beautiful.

  4. October 26, 2008 6:07 am

    no worries…it was a great rant…and your pantry is amazing!

  5. October 26, 2008 6:21 am

    1. Well said. Raising meat is hard (to put it simplistically). If people realized what went in to it, they wouldn’t balk at expensive meat. Cheap meat makes me nervous, because I know the person who raised/butchered it didn’t care about it.

    2. HOLY CANNED GOODS, Batman. That’s spectacular!

  6. October 26, 2008 7:02 am

    Hi Nita!

    What amazing pictures! You really do have OCD. 😉

    And, not to worry about the ranting… You only speak the truth.


  7. October 26, 2008 7:21 am

    This really struck me the other day when we went into the grocery store to buy a local cheese. I have been shopping mainly at farmer’s markets or growing my own, I get my raw milk, meat & eggs from a small local farm, so I rarely go into a grocery store. I walked in yesterday and as I looked down the long aisles of boxes, jars & cans, I thought to myself, “This isn’t food, it doesn’t look, smell or feel like food, why are people buying this?”.

    The sad thing is that people want food as cheaply as possible, so low quality is what they get. I’m suprised people don’t make that connection, cheap, low quality food = bad health. This is what they’re eating, this is what fuels them. No wonder Americans are all fat & tired all the time, they eat the human version of cheap by-product dog food. They’ll spend 25% of their income on a big car and clothes & other stuff, but they won’t invest in their health and their future, not to mention the local economy & the environment. It’s a sad thing for sure.

    Great pantry by the way, I’m super impressed. Some day my basement will be stocked with goodies like this (although I’m not doing too bad this year, we may make it through the winter without buying frequent flier veggies).

  8. October 26, 2008 7:28 am

    I just helped my friend butcher turkeys yesterday. He agreed to teach me the way an old Jewish Rabbi taught him to butcher turkeys. One requirement of me joining him (this of course is an ongoing joke between us) was that I had to teach him something new (he is 83 and has been farming all his life).

    Some people value learning and never stop. At some point during the day, I did mention something off-handed that made him pause, ‘I never knew that,’ he said, ‘One hundred and eighty three and I’m still learning!’

  9. October 26, 2008 7:35 am

    What is in the jars below what looks to be apple pie filling? Is it sliced spuds?

  10. tanya permalink
    October 26, 2008 7:44 am

    Thank you for posting what you did. I am usually a lurker but I have to tell you that I enjoyed this post. I was raised with eating meat that we helped raise and butcher and hunting on our own property for meat for my dad since he ate venison almost exclusively. Your pantry is a beautiful thing.
    Thank you for your educational, beautiful blog that makes me think.

  11. Debbie permalink
    October 26, 2008 8:24 am

    This was beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings and frustrations so eloquently. I’m usually a lurker on this site, but this post really moved me and I wanted to post a comment. I’m one of those folks who is terribly disconnected from my food. We finally started gardening a bit this summer (with limited success). Otherwise our food comes from a CSA, farmers market, coop, and grocery store. We are working on understanding more of what goes into food production, and we value the hard work of the area farmers we buy from. But we don’t truly understand it and we haven’t engaged in it. I know we have more to learn and do.

    Your pantry is incredible. Goodness, do I have a long, long way to go!

  12. October 26, 2008 8:32 am

    I want to have OCD! I think I’m well on my way with 80+ jars canned this year but you set a new gold standard! Next year I will do a least twice as many jars.

    Yes, food in the store isn’t is not dirty, mean or bloody. Its also not hot, sweaty, tired, cold fingers in the dirt… but neither is it lovely warm mornings, beautiful rows of many shades of green, quick jump in the river to cool off, light green cotyledons poking up, laying in the shade watching clear blue sky filtered by giant cottonwoods. People who buy all their food in the store miss so much. Less work yes, but also so much less satisfying!

  13. October 26, 2008 9:08 am

    You really do have OCD don’t you:) Did you here about the kids that came on a field trip out to a dairy farm? One little boy saw a pile of old milk bottles and said “Look teacher, a cows nest!”

  14. October 26, 2008 10:39 am

    Our appreciation for our food has grown more over the last year as we have started preserving more foods and raised our meat from birth to death. John was telling me that when he was killing the chickens Friday before he did the deed he “said sorry and thank you to every bird”. That nearly brought me to tears to think of how blessed we are to have such a compassionate man in our lives.
    Love the peek at your bounty, you truly are amazing! John isn’t much for following blogs but on occasions I catch him peeking in on yours and sometimes he will be sarcastic and say something like “I bet Trapper Creek does….” this or that if he is trying to talk me into to something. I’d say you have another secret admirer. Thanks Nita for all you knowledge. You truly are “My Mentor” Hugs ~Kim

  15. October 26, 2008 11:39 am

    So very well spoken.

  16. Ellen permalink
    October 26, 2008 12:54 pm

    Beautiful!! It must be the most satisfying feeling to know you can feed your family for a year or two off of your own hard work. So tangible, so practical!! I have always loved the site of a full pantry since I was a little girl and my mother would send me down to the basement for tomatoes, veg. soup or green beans. Thank you so much for your blog. I check everyday for a new post and always learn something new as well as it being one of the most enjoyable parts of my day.

  17. October 26, 2008 3:53 pm

    How many jars is a 2 year supply for 2 people? I did some rough math 1 quart/day 300 days = 150 jars. This would be approx. 1 pt sweet, 1 pt savory plus milk, root cellared and dry stores.

  18. October 26, 2008 4:51 pm

    Wow, those shelves look like my mother’s basement shelves when I was growing up. I started canning this year, and the jars are tucked under an extra bed. This entire post hit me strongly, but those jars brought back such great memories and hope.

  19. October 26, 2008 5:25 pm

    Beautiful pantry pics. What variety. Thanks for letting us see and know what goes into the life of a true farmer. Love the whites.

    P.S. You are OCD if anybody in the world is, thanks for the company.


  20. October 26, 2008 5:37 pm

    Wow!! Outstanding post and incredible pantry. What an inspiration! I became one of those disconnected people for a while and have been trying to reconnect in the past few years. Unfortunately, for now we live in a city with regulations on having ‘livestock animals’ but are looking to move and begin raising some of our own. But, at least my children know where their food comes from even if we don’t raise it ourselves.

  21. vicki permalink
    October 26, 2008 6:24 pm

    Awww, Beautiful! I am so envious :)!! My cellar only has about 1/3 of yours you should be very proud! It’s hard work, but deeply satisfying. I know I am pleased when I see my shelves lined up with food. What do you have stored in the milk crates? Thanks for sharing, its a GREAT post – as always! Vicki

  22. October 26, 2008 10:39 pm

    Can I come live with you? Actually, there are five of us plus two cats! Your canned goods are works of art and an incredible testament of the love you have for your family. Looking at the pictures brought a bitter sweet smile to my face … pride for my cyber friend (that’s you), warm memories of my grandma’s basement, happy memories of my mom’s garden harvests, and a bit of sadness that those traditions are not really a part of my skill sets. I’m making progress though, bit by bit, and love the connection it provides to my past. I guess I’m guilty of not thinking about what it takes to satisfy my carnivorous cooking and eating, but I do try to provide the best I can for my eaters and have tremendous respect for the farmers and ranchers who make it possible for me to not raise my own meat.

    Hope you guys didn’t blow away today … on this side of the river, it was a VERY blustery day. I’ll take it though … I love sunny and brisk!

  23. Judi In PA permalink
    October 27, 2008 8:49 am

    Beautiful post and a great rant. I will add that I love what Susy said in her comment. She hit the nail on the head with her way of thinking. I have finally seen someone else’s pantry that looks like ours, although yours is a bit more organized. I make my youngins unload the jars and they just put them where they can find room. The milk crates…aren’t they great? Nine quarts fit in them perfectly! I have never seen someone else use them like we do! The only thing is…we only have about a years supply with a family of nine. I have switched to two quart jars to help with feeding frenzy. Great, great, great post.

  24. October 28, 2008 5:12 am

    Thank you for such a thought provoking post. A lot of “food for thought” (sorry for the pun)

  25. October 29, 2008 7:44 am

    I missed this post, and it’s a beauty. Well done. And while many may say “oh you’re so lucky” or “I’m envious” the work, the strength involved is not for the meek.

    We ate one of turkeys for the first time last night. The whole time I was preparing him, cooking him, serving him and eating him I thought about his life here. There were a lot of daily memories to choose from. Yet despite that, I did not feel remorse for his death. Just happiness at the fact that I did get to give him a good life and gratitude for that life.

  26. October 30, 2008 6:31 am

    “The simple life isn’t always so easy. ”

    That pretty much says it all!

    OCD! HA! Your pantry is a thing of beauty. Mine is paltry in comparison, but I’ve made a good start. Next year, I may actually feel that I know what I’m doing with the canning.

    Good to be catching up on your goings on. Life’s just been too darn busy here!

  27. October 30, 2008 10:59 pm

    I became a vegetarian about three years ago, which was sort of an attempt at getting connected with my food. I felt that I just couldn’t eat animals anymore without feeling guilty. Since then I’ve gone through a process and now I’m trying gardening for food (which I love!) and I have chickens, because that’s what keeps me connected. Fresh vegetables (although I didn’t get that much this first year) and (hopefully) fresh eggs. And it’s really reassuring to know where everything came from and how it’s been treated.

    This might nog have been very coherent but I wanted to say it anyway.

    And I LOVE your pantry! Great job 😀

  28. November 3, 2008 12:14 am

    Robbyn, thank you for your kind words, I have no doubt you and Jack will be able to do whatever you set your mind to. When the time comes to process an animal you raised, you will have already come to terms with the process, I’m sure. It sounds hard now, and it is never easy, but it will be fine.

    TC, I’m with you, the disconnect is so great, I don’t know if it will be fixed.

    Mom to kids, thank you, and thank you for the photo tips.

    Amanda, thanks and what is a rant now and then between friends. 🙂

    Taylor, cheap meat makes me nervous too. I can’t believe how cheap it really is in the store. Now they are finding MRSA in ground pork. All you have to do is touch it to get the flesh eating virus. That’s bad.

    Colleen, blogging is synonomous with ranting – isn’t it? 😉

    I do have OCD, you should see my quilting fabric. 🙂

    Susy, you are so right. Shelf life and packaging are the name of the game. Good for you on your winter vegetable supply, now they are thinking of irradiating salad greens. So, instead of trying to produce clean food, they will just nuke it. More poor health on the way.

    HDR, Clarence is a cutie, he might just live to 183! I think the food you thought was potatoes is probably white flesh peaches. I don’t can any vegetables or fruit that I can store without using an energy.

    Tanya, thank you, and that is great about your Dad eating venison. He must have been a good hunter.

    Debbie, thank you for commenting. It sounds like you’re already doing a lot towards securing a safe and wholesome food supply. And don’t worry about your garden, some years are better than others for some veggies. if you are buying local through a CSA and a farmers market you are way ahead of the masses.

    EJ, I warn you, there is no known cure for OCD! Once you get it, the outlook is grave. 😉 You are right, you do miss a lot if you don’t take an active part in growing your own food.

    On the food for 1 year, I roughly plan 50 units of each type of fruit or vegetable. A unit could be a quart or a pint or a pound.
    Depending on what it is. Some are canned and some are frozen. That will give us roughly 1 unit per week of each thing. For instance I don’t need 50 quarts of broccoli, because during the growing season we eat it fresh. And some things I do more of if I’m canning because it will keep longer than if frozen.

    Stuff, thank you seeing the fruit room full reminds me of my Mom canning too.

    Chris, thanks – OCD of the west. LOL

    Judy, thank you, and you know at least you are aware. Thank heavens no there is a choice. Farmers markets have made a come back and that is a good thing for farmers and consumers.

    Vicki, thanks, the milk crates are filled with duplicates of what is on the shelves, when the weather turns wet, I can do some rearranging and get things put away.

    Paula, if you come live here I will make you cook. That is my least favorite past time. 🙂 At least in the summer, winter is slower and I have more time.

    You had an awesome garden this year, so you’re doing pretty good girl! 😉

    Judi, yeah for milk crates. Did you know that they also hold 2.5 dozen egg flats too? You can put 10 dozen in them and stack away. I need to organize that room soon. I’m still canning so it will be awhile.

    Phew, I’m glad I’m not feeding nine – you do need 1/2 gallons!

    Pamela, great pun, thanks!

    Farm Mom, your turkeys were beautiful, and you guys did a great job raising them. You are doing the right thing, and all that you are doing will be second nature for your kids when they have their families. Yeah family farms!!

    AMWD, busy is a good thing, I hope… . Any food in your pantry is a worthwhile thing.

    Kiewies, thank you, and you can’t beat fresh veggies and eggs you raised yourself. Thanks for stopping by.

  29. January 23, 2009 1:33 pm

    I love this post Nita! You are one of the shinning stars in our world.


  30. May 8, 2009 10:11 am

    It seems your spam filter has an in-built ‘discarded’ tendency. I’d written a lovely long comment about what I felt about farm life, etc etc – and its gone now.

    It’s bothersome. Please review it on my blog, at the link I’ve noted.

  31. Monica permalink
    August 7, 2009 1:00 pm

    Hey Nita..
    I was looking for some canning shelf ideas (modern and metal with some midcentury/eames style to suit my house ;-D) Anyway my word search took me to someones site who linked to your article. Good rant. That particular “I couldn’t eat it” statement annoys me too. As does the “I need it to look like/be like/weigh this ect ect. People complain about uniformity of food…but then they fall right back into it with the feeling that it is o.k now because they are being a “heritage” form of the food from someone local instead of a commercial variety. I guess it’s hard for them to understand that just like humans don’t look the same…their dinner doesn’t always either.
    Anyway…we have heard it often but the newest (august 09) was a lady that came to buy a breeding trio of ducks from me. We were speaking of our cow and she said: “Oh…I could NEVER drink milk straight from a cow” to which I replied, “Well…I don’t really either since I strongly dislike warm milk and much prefer it cold if I can have it that way”. Her reply? “Oh…it’s not even that….it’s the cream rising to the top. I could just never drink it like that”
    OOOKKKAAAYYYYY. We’re getting really weird now aren’t we.

  32. Wannabe Homesteader permalink
    January 10, 2010 8:49 pm

    Hey Nita,

    Wonderful article and the canned goods are unbelievable! We’re creating our canning pantry right now and I’m looking forward to filling it up next season.

    About the disconnect between animals and the meat in the supermarket: I couldn’t agree more. I have often had issues surrounding eating meat and have been an on and off again vegetarian/vegan since teenage-hood. For the past 6 years though (immediately since I became pregnant and craved a burger!) I’ve been eating meat. I still find it tough to buy a roast or steaks and certainly have a lot of difficulty disassociating myself from the experience of ‘dicing’ up any meat.

    Something is definitely amiss with the meat industry and consumer, and I really don’t like being a part of it. My husband and I have toyed with the idea of raising our own meat animals and I fully believe that if we were to do so, I and my family would be eating a lot less of it, and with much more reverence for the animal that we are consuming in the name of ‘nutrition’.

    I also know that it will take an awfully long time for me to come to terms with eating my own animals. For example, we had 2 roosters amongst our flock last season (they were all supposed to be girls!) that were just too noisy for the neighbours. One was particularly mean and took a go at my daughters and then me. We took the two of them to the butchers to deal with. Believe me, we thought about doing it ourselves and we probably seem like the biggest whimps – we couldn’t deal with those two little chickens ourselves (great homesteaders!). When my husband came home with chicken roasters on ice, just a few hours after leaving with those two boys, it was a very surreal experience. I had a hard time dealing. Just the day before he was looking me in the eye and I had to try to avoid his glance so I could begin the emotional separation process (for myself). Still, as bothered with those guys as I was with their all-night long crowing and the attempted attack on my toddlers, I was very disturbed that they were now sitting in my freezer, headless, skinless and pink. Needless to say that 3 months after we got them, I still hadn’t been able to bring myself to cook them and ended up giving them to my neighbour before they simply spoiled from being stored too long.

    You are right. People go to the store and do not associate the slab of food they just picked up from the meat section, with an actual living, breathing animal, who cared as much about its own life as we do about ours, and felt pain and terror, just as we do when we are shot, stabbed or our throats are slit.

    As an aside, I also find it annoying that the farming community refers to raising and slaughtering animals as ‘growing’ them. You ‘grow’ fruit, vegetables and flowers, not meat. I feel it’s just another way to insulate the meat consumer from the truth of the matter.

    Anyway, as you can see I’m also on a rant…so I’ll go now. But thanks again for the post. It made for a good opportunity to get my two bobs-worth off my chest!


    • January 11, 2010 8:02 am

      Wannabe Homesteader, rant away! Coming from the other side of the equation where I have always known where my food came from and how hard it was to get it from the beginning to the end, I sometimes have a hard time understanding the squeamishness for first time animal “raisers.” But, I don’t think that particularly means that I am callous or taking life from our animals needlessly, it is just how things are. The guilt trip continually laid on meat eaters is not a one size fits all kind of trip. I doubt that my family consuming a 1/2 grassfed beef from our farm on a yearly basis evens comes close to the environmental damage my environmentalist neighbor wreaks each year flying back and forth to his “other” place in the South Pacific and traveling for a good part of the year. Yet he believes he is doing less, and I believe we are doing less – who is right?

  33. Deb permalink
    January 11, 2010 2:29 pm

    what an awesome stash of food, I hope my pantry looks that good next summer…

  34. bonnie white permalink
    December 9, 2010 7:11 pm

    i was so excited to find this . its great. i to have a long wat to go .

  35. January 22, 2011 4:11 pm

    do you still raise turkeys to sell? i know you don’t raise meat chickens anymore to sell, so is beef the only thing you still sell?

    • January 22, 2011 4:23 pm

      The beef work the best for us, because we aren’t at the mercy of the grain market – grass grows really well here 🙂

      • January 22, 2011 5:00 pm

        Yeah, I’ve been thinking that through too… especially after reading through your blog. I always thought that was the weak spot in Salatin’s operation, he buys conventional grain, not that organic grain would be ideal either. Grass is good 🙂 I know MIG isn’t a formula, but is it possible to guess on a cow per acre ratio? Is there a minimum number of cattle you need to make rotational grazing work? Or could you do it with 2 or 3? In my search for land I’m trying to keep in mind what kind of livestock and what size of property I will want.

        • January 22, 2011 7:20 pm

          I think the thing to remember about Polyface is that corn and soy are grown right there in the Shenandoah Valley, taking the shipping portion out the price. Here we are at the mercy of too many fingers in the supply chain. There is a guy in Maupin and some in Eastern Washington growing peas as a substitute for soy, but I personally think we as a society eat too much chicken. It sounds so much better to people than beef, but there is a lot of environmental damage done to grow crops, grass on the other hand is a carbon sequestering fool, or can be if managed right. But red meat is like a dirty word to many. I think the rule of thumb for cows in our area would be 1 mature cow per acre, although with MiG, you can increase that number as the grass gets better.

          The other side of the coin though, to start out, chicken is a pretty easy sell, and you get a quick return on your money. So it’s a conundrum, grow what people want? Chicken. Or try to educate potential customers to grass fed beef.

  36. February 16, 2011 9:13 am

    Och but I LOVE your fruit room.

    I’ve been vegan for 10 yrs…and vegetarian for 6 before that. We recently became chicken eaters along with raw milk and eggs when we became allergic to soy.

    I was raised on a farm….We became vegan for the cancer that saturates both my husbands line and mine and we wanted to give the kids a better chance at not getting cancer. So..not an animal activist but I don’t believe in harming animals.

    I have never understood my in laws and the anger they felt when I answered what nuggets from mcdonalds were made of….and their children stopped eating them…hehe… I offered to grow some birds for mil on our acre. She freaked out…how could she kill it? I…the vegan…offered to….but then…how could she eat something with a face. She did not appreciate me pointing out the hypocrisy of her eating choices.

    We’ve added chicken, turkey and (yuck) fish…but it comes pretty whole…I use the fish head to make stock…the chicken bones and feet for stock and I am grateful this animal had a healthy good life and thank it for its gift of nourishment to me and mine.

    It angers me that meat eaters think they’ve no blood on their hands. Don’t they realize their plastic wrapped foods have saturated them in disdain and distance while the small farmer/sustainable living farmer shows respect and honor. I prefer to have the courage and look into the animals eyes.

    I know….I’m a weird vegan/chicken eater… 😉 lovely post.


    • February 16, 2011 9:24 am

      You’ve probably explored this to death, but I am curious why you think being vegan would hold off cancer? Unless you’re buying totally organic, plant based foods have a larger chemical and ecological footprint due to farming methods, storage requirements and processing.

      Congrats on venturing into raising your own meats – it’s the only way to go besides getting to know a farmer personally.

      Continued health to you!


  1. Preserving, Canning, Root Cellars and "Putting Up"!
  2. Preserving, Canning, Root Cellars and "Putting Up"!

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