Feeding Ourselves and Others

Red Clover cover crop and mustard

This week began our first chicken harvest of the season. It’s a power day indeed. I like to start the chicken processing season off with a blessing. I took this blessing  from Barbara Kingsolver’s book, “Animal Vegetable Miracle.” Great book!

“By the same power that slays you, we too are slain and we too shall be consumed. For that law that delivers you unto our hands shall deliver us into mightier hands, your blood and our blood is not but the sap that feeds the tree of heaven.”

Weekend rainbow during morning chores

The prayer is simple yet contains meaning and intention. I know a few people to who sing to their birds during harvest. We have too many birds, we’d run out of songs! But for us, this prayer sets things in motion, in a mindset that is settling and significant to what we are living as we come to understand what it takes to pasture raise 4000 broilers and harvest them.

There is empowerment raising your own flock and taking their life to fulfill your own and others. It’s not as horrific as people think it might be. Here are a few simple specifics things I enjoy about harvest day.

Processing Shed

First, I like the kind people who come to the farm and pitch in! That makes all the difference in the world. It’s impossible for us to do this on our own. This need creates community. We enjoy teaching people this skill.It’s also a  wonderful day working in the shade! The processing area is next to the pond, it’s comfortable and cool with a gentle fresh air breeze. You’d be surprised how important this can be when you’re working outside all day in sun or rain. We get a break from the elements under the processing shed.

In addition, the offal.  We really really  appreciate the offal that comes from the parts of the chicken that we don’t use which blends into our compost pile.  In time it becomes great fertilizer for  our kitchen garden, giving us a rich majestic dark soil and allows us to grow nutritious vegetables. Next  music. We gather music specifically for processing days, it helps keep the energy flowing and gives us a chance to listen to a few good tunes while we work. A good James Brown tune never hurt anyone! Then there’s the customers! People who  (all year) anticipate our first chicken harvest, including us! It’s a joy to offer them pasture raised chicken free of all that unhealthy stuff.  And finally, we get paid! And who doesn’t like to make money?

Lauren and Joel

I can still remember the first time we watched Polyface apprentices process chickens. Michael and I were attending a Polyface Intensive Discovery Seminar. Joel was holding Lauren, his beautiful granddaughter as he explained the process. Lauren didn’t flinch. No fear, no resistance. Just another day on the farm.  When you see a child at ease in an environment like this  you get the sense that we’re all in this together. Wouldn’t it be nice if this feeling was common amongst a majority? Now that’s something to look forward to.

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About Grace

Grace and her husband Michael manage Buxton a Polyface satellite farm. Her first passion is to align with radiant health. She knows intimately that when you have your health you can do anything. Next, her passion for vibrant healthy food and beautiful landscapes along with her interest in permaculture influenced Grace's decision to align with the Polyface farming model. With 20 years of experience in the healing arts, she feels growing food and pasture raising animals is one of the greatest healers and a true source of personal empowerment. It's been said, "if you're not living on the edge your taking up too much space." Grace lives joyfully on the "leading edge" surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of the appalachian mountains where her and Michael steward 1000 acres with profound appreciation."

13 Responses to Feeding Ourselves and Others

  1. Nice post. Loved “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,” too! Our group in Chesapeake, Virginia, is trying to feed ourselves and others by changing the zoning laws so that residents can keep a few backyard laying hens. Currently homes must be zoned agricultural or be on 3-plus acre “residential estates” to have any hens at all. If you think this is ridiculous, read the post, like the Facebook page, but most of all, sign our petition.

    How much space do a few laying hens need? Hint: NOT three acres!


  2. Joe Hernandez says:

    Mary Lou, We live in upstate NY, in the country, and we can’t have chickens of any stripe in this small, rural village, no matter how much land you have. Reason: the crowing will annoy the neighbors early in the morning. “THE CROWING”. Try as you will to explain the “crowing” issue, it all falls on deaf ears. Good luck with your effort. We hope to leave the village for 10 acres, a stream and barns and a solid brick home this month. I just hope the CROWING hens and ducks don’t keep the bears awake in the morning. And Grace, it looks like Joel is going to have some competition soon in the Polyface writing department. You sure put us in the time & place you describe. I remember apologizing and thanking the first buck I ever shot. It was not a clean shot and had to finish the job by hand after I found him. There is a connection if wish to see it. Best to all this season, Joe

  3. Sherral says:

    Beautiful! I’m so grateful for this type of farming and hope it continues to grow! I have dietary issues with eating store bought meat- it basically gives me gout and cripples me up. (And I’m a young and fit woman so that’s really rare.) When I first started having issues, doctors couldn’t tell me what was wrong or how to get healthy, but over time I figured it out for myself. I can eat wild game or pasture raised meat as much as I want, but when I eat too much store bought meat I start having issues again.
    Anyway, all this to say thank you for what you are doing and for promoting this type of farming. I would love to find someone in my area doing the same thing.

    • Grace says:

      Yes, I found similiar solutions to a few health challenges when I started eating pasture raised food. I’m certain, if you desire is as strong as your need you will find someone near you. The great thing is that all kinds of people are returning to farming. Be well!

    • Sherral, have you tried Local Harvest? http://www.localharvest.org/

      • Sherral says:

        Thank you! I tried that but didn’t turn up much. I’m in Arizona, and while I do know a lot of farmers, they mostly all grow cotton. But I do try to support the ones who grow food products as much as I can.

  4. Mrs H says:

    I find it very valuable to teach children about how we butcher and process the animals we choose to consume, so that they understand the cost of the fried chicken on their plate (a life was taken!). Some parents think it is cruel to have children present at butcherings, and one parent even claimed that we should “only buy our meat at the grocery store so no animals are harmed.” This is all just simple ignorance, which will change over time as they become more educated in food matters.

    • Amen, Mrs. H. My kids were there when I learned how to slaughter chickens. They went from being creeped out by the blood to wanting to touch the innards! I had FUN doing it (probably because of the wonderful folks that came to show me how) even though it was chilly and rainy outside. I’m looking forward to my next batch . . .and possibly turkeys next year too! It’s just priceless when your kids know where their food comes from.

      • Grace Hernandez says:

        It’s true. It can be fun. We had a young boy working with us last week. He was efficient and wants to come back. It was a great day of learning for him.

  5. audio design says:

    I’m certain, if you desire is as strong as your need you will discover some man or woman near you. The superb thing is that all kinds of people are returning to farming… thanks…

  6. audio design says:

    I have dietary issues with eating store, it generally gives me gout and cripples me up. When I first started having issues, doctors couldn’t tell me what was wrong or how to get healthy, but over time I figured it out for myself.

  7. Leilani says:

    Raising animals humanly and processing them skillfully and with dignity makes me feel very connected and self-sufficient. If Publix went out of business tomorrow, my family would not panic nor starve. It is a good feeling.