It's hard to believe almost 10 years ago I was president of a company that taught others how to be business leaders through sharing my successes and my failures. At that time in my life, I wasn’t big on emails and had never even read a blog. Oh my, how life has changed! I am now a solitary chicken farmer, my arsenal is the World Wide Web. If you’d asked me 10 years ago, I'd never in a million years dreamed life would take me to where I am. My conversations now are with my family, friends, chickens, and on occasion the farmers who struggle alongside me. To think, I walked away from the "good life" to be with my family and foster the land. But, that's another story.
I want to start off by sharing with you why we eat pastured chicken. I love chicken; I'm certain that without meat I'd die. No amount of tofu could replace the 6-8,000 calories I burn per day. But, first I should explain how much my instincts conflict with killing when we are not growing it for ourselves. I dread butchering day, especially when my chicken’s head is on the block. You know, the ones that I nurture and watch grow into amazing colours with attitudes and unique personalities. Back in the day, I could sit down and unrepentantly devour 2 Costco chickens in one meal and still fit in a baked potato, side of KD, and a beer. I’d been reprogrammed to forget the taste of fresh eggs and the chicken of my youth.
I can’t eat store-bought chicken anymore. Now into my 40's, those same 2 Costco birds will be harder on the waistband of my pants and unfulfilling. I love pastured chicken because the birds are filling. One bird can last us a work week! That means, in one week we save 9 birds from slaughter and lessen our environmental impact by doing so. The fact is that the pasture bird lived a life running in the field unencumbered by walls. This is something that industry in North America is unwilling to risk. This gives us the upper hand to act now before industry advances and starts raising truly amazing chicken. If you need good breeding stock we have your back. Need a mentor or a partner? We will walk alongside you as time allows. Now here I am, driving this pastured chicken train like I stole it. Watch out, good things are going to happen for the small growers of crops and birds. Strength comes in numbers.
My job is to preserve, my intention has always been true to that. My preference has been to sell breeding stock. But in order to be sustainable we need to do a little bit of everything. I enjoy the genetics, and the people we meet. We've turned down some very very tempting offers to raise our birds in volume in free range poultry barns. As well as supplying butchers and restaurants with hundreds of birds per month. But, I don't want to butcher every month! It was never my intention to do so! My heart can only handle the abattoir every 3-4 months. When that feeling stops I'll know I've traded my soul for cash and it will be time to open another chapter. I don't tell you this because I want to guilt you into a vegan lifestyle. (There are enough vegans out there to tell you how horrible you are for eating meat) If God wanted you to eat toilet paper and hemp all the time, he certainly wouldn't have made dinosaurs... I tell you this because it's what's on my mind tonight. I'd rather eat a bird that has flavour and texture than one that was born in the lab and lived in and died in a building a mere 4 weeks later. I think it’s great people are eating organic, but they are missing the point. Organic doesn't mean anything to the bird. The revolution is upon us and our fine feathered friends. It's time to remove the corporation stronghold and farm again like our lives, our chickens’ lives, and our consumers’ lives depend on it. Because they do.
Thanks for dropping by. I'm Matthew Nelson, farmer of Grade Eh Farms. I post on where my love and passion for life intersect with family, farming, food, & chicken for the soul.
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Below are links to websites that gardeners and chicken owners may find helpful and interesting:
Unique chicken coop for a small backyard:
Best source for backyard henhouses in BC. Locally-crafted chicken coops made of repurposed BC cedar:
Useful information on raising healthy, happy free-range hens:
A portion of our ordering policy was stolen from Legbars of Broadway. Thanks Philip. :-)