Thursday, June 24, 2010

The sun is shining and the farm is starting to dry out. Though very late, I think the garden is going to do just fine. I can see shoots of corn and the first large flat leaves of squash peeking out from the straw mulch. Yea! For a while there I wasn't sure we were going to have a garden at all. The constant rain and unseasonable cool temperatures have been unreal. It has seemed more like April or March instead of June.

We (finally) put the turkeys out on pasture yesterday. I'm not sure why we started our first meat bird project with turkeys. Cornish rock cross birds might have been a smarter option. Turkey babies have a reputation for being hard to raise from poult-hood to harvest. But the turkeys seemed to be doing famously despite the heavy dew this morning and temperatures in the 40's. I can hear them peeping to each other through the open kitchen window.

The chickens are doing their part by giving us lots of eggs. All this rain has not seemed to change their laying habits. I've been easily able to supply a few friends with a couple dozen a week and still keep my pack of kids happily eating fresh farm eggs. It really makes me smile knowing that I have a wonderful source of cheap, healthy food to put in front of my family. (I have to admit that I also feel pretty smug when I walk right by the refrigerated egg and dairy cases in the grocery store without even a second glance.)

The little black hen continues to be broody and now is sitting on 10 eggs. One by one she lost every egg she had been sitting on during the early month of May. She is so determined to have a family that she happily sat on two rocks for a week. So between Saturday and Sunday, we collected a pile of eggs and now she can try again to satisfy this great urge she has to start a family. I hope she makes it this time.

The meat rabbits are growing fast and fat as only meat animals can do. They will be ready for harvest in about 5 weeks. They will be weaned from the does in two weeks and will be put out on pasture so they can finish out their frames with field grass and dandelions, lounging in the sun and feeling the mountain breezes tickling their long ears. They have a short but good life.

I know there are some who read about our farm and wonder how we can sacrifice our animals just to feed ourselves when there is food readily available at any grocery store. I don't want to be sanctimonious but I am convinced that we give our animals the best life they could ever receive. All our animals have a safe, warm, dry place to call home, whether it be a coop or a cage or a (turkey) tractor (made for moving around the pasture so the birds can have access to fresh grass/ bugs everyday). They have healthy, nourishing food, often supplied from our own gardens and fresh well water. They are always handled gently and when it's time for harvest, the animals are quickly dispatched without fear or long suffering. I am continuously grateful to the animals that give all or part of themselves to feed my family. I show that gratitude by giving them the best life we can offer.

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