Saturday, August 29, 2009

Why Chicken?

Well I kinda lost my energy to post tonight. Keith Cutting gave me a heads up about a rule change from the Department of Health and Human Services regarding the processing and sale of meats in the state of New Hampshire. Unfortunately, it looks like a few changes will be made: namely, I heard through the grapevine that I won't be able to process my own chickens, and then bring them to the market.

Before I get going on the problems with the potential rule, let me first answer the title to this posting: Why chicken?

Besides the fact that it is so damn good....We love chicken. It is a wholesome, delicious meat that we can raise on the farm. They do not require as much pasture as a cow or sheep. They make wonderful droppings upon our field that simply make the grass grow! We feel energized after eating it. Our farm families love it. Devour it. If someone came up to you who felt a part of their life has been completely revitalized- namely the dinner table, then why would you want to squash that?

We process the chickens on our farm for several reasons. Namely, that the economics of taking them to a USDA slaughter house is prohibitive. Lameys, the only USDA slaughter house in the state, charges $5 per bird to process. Without including the time to load birds into cages, the truck and then drive them to Goffstown, that processing fee would add another $1.00 per pound to our birds. I process the birds on the farm partly because I am not in the business to pass the buck along. Our customers do not want a live bird- they want a ready to eat chicken. Secondly, they are my birds. I buy them as chicks, raise them in the brooders, get them out onto pasture- I am out there at odd ours of the night checking on them, and with flakes of hay keeping them warm and dry in storms. If I can take the integrity to raise the best possible birds that I can, then I am going to slaughter them in the best possible manner that I can. I slaughter 20-35 birds a day, once or twice a week. In between slaughterings the area is cleaned and rested. The sun pasteurizes the area. I keep everything clean. I don't care how much bleach they use, a slaughterhouse that is killing and cutting 5 days out of the week isn't going to have the cleanliness and attention that I can give my birds.

The next biggest thing is the economics of me raising birds. We can't drive down to Goffstown with 35 birds. We'd have to take 100+. Which essentially means good bye fresh birds- hello frozens. Now I have to have an extra freezer just for birds. Might as well add another $0.25 a pound.

Just to switch focus quickly: The state of California passed in March 2008 a law requiring that all raw milk pass a 10 coliform units per mil. test. (this is essentially impossible: ) Anyways, NH has the same rule on its "books". I guess we are also supposed to have,

“Raw milk is not pasteurized. Pasteurization destroys organisms that may be harmful to human health” listed on our bottles when we sell it.

What we have been fearful on our farm for the last couple years is the ability for the DHHS, senate/house, or other public bodies to put a few words on a piece of paper and as a result put us out of business. Food products that are considered potentially hazardous garner attention from regulators. Unfortunately for us, they are the type of foods we are interested in producing. Not because they are potentially hazardous. We do not see them that way at all. I think they are potentially lifesaving. Real, raw milk, fresh chicken, ground meat from cows raised on pasture who have seen more weeds, dirt and grass than concrete. Instead of looking up the statistics of food related illness from food sources that promote an unhealthy, environmentally degrading, morally decomposing system- why not look for and promote the production of foods that energize and vitalize both the producers and consumers. I think a lot of the dairies around us would have a bit more pep in their step if they were pasturing their cows on grass, getting $4 a gallon for pure milk, selling baby beef calves in retail markets instead of getting $0.72 a gallon after sales, shipping and commission for milk from sillage fed cows, and $30 dollars for day old shipped calves.

I recently took a ServeSafe class for my work at a kitchen in New London. Without getting too much into it I can simply say- the government's view of food is more of that of a dangerous item that needs special care, while ours is of a wholesome nutritious fulfillment of the land we live on that becomes one part of our daily nourishment. You can look at stats on food illness- but how about the stats on food wellness? How many dinners were made wholesome with our chicken? How many wives loved their husbands a little more for buying a beautiful bouquet from Two Mountain Farm? Did anyone's allergies improve after having honey from Cutting Farm? Did those kids remember going to the supermarket with their mom- or Farm Days at Musterfield Farm? How many of feel healthier now that Doritos has 33% more free per b


So where do we go with our farm? Do we really want to put money, time and unneeded frustration into a lifestyle and product that can disappear when a bureaucrat with a piece of paper comes around my barn door some day? The answer truly is no. I don't want to spend a few years building up something that can disappear over night. But how many vegetable vendors does the state want? our farmer's market need? If the state restricts the sale of foods they think potentially hazardous- that only Purdue, Tyson and Hood know how to produce safely, then everyone else that wants to farm either has to enter that production system or grow products without restrictions. We can't all sell summer squash. Right now that is what is so nice about our market- the other farmers we work with- A lot of our products overlap, but th

e products are so diverse that instead of being competitors- we're friends and advisors to each other. What happens to our already fragmented farm communities when everyone shows up with summer squash, beans and cucumbers?

Part of: the Answer

We need a few things. here are the few things I have been thinking of for the last couple weeks.

1. We need a state government that recognizes the fragmentation and diversity of homesteaders and farmers in the state that does not passes regulations on th

e direct sale of farmer to consumer; and that instead promotes the sale of properly raised/grown foods.

2. (the government) needs to realize that direct farm to consumer sales are not part of the food system; they are a reaction to the current food system. There is a difference between walking into a grocery store for a gallon of milk on your way home from work, and driv

ing to a farm to pick up a gallon of milk. The latte

r is decision to purchase something different, by choice, often because it is felt to be the healthier, better decision. These interactions should not be regulated. They are a reaction to the system that is already regulated. As Joel Salatin said, it's just letting people opt out.

3. Farmer markets are extensions of the farm. They offer a convenience for a customer to meet various farmers at one location. If a product can be sold at the farm, then it should be able to be sold at the market. Free and clear of legislative baggage.

4. Food isn't hazardous. With the exception of corn syr

up, MSG, and a few preservatives food isn't dangerous. People shouldn't fear the food they eat. They should be in jubilation of how they feel afterwards. Food illness

happens. Three years ago a man in Massachusetts died from lysteria contaminated milk: PASTEURIZED contaminated milk. The state official at the time said that even in a perfect system things can go wrong. It happens, rarely- But just keep in mind that it is leg

al to sell e.coli contaminated beef as long as it is precooked before sale, and as long as a veterinarian gives

the ok to a downer cow it can still legally go throu

gh the slaughterhouse.

5. An inspection doesn't make food safe. Feeding animals what they should eat makes the food safe. Maintaining biodynamic gardens keeps food safe. Integrity keeps food safe. You can have all the inspections you want. If whomever is shipping it off to a middleman and doe

sn't care, then it really doesn't matter.

Well, I am tucking off to bed. That is enough rant and nervousness from me. Maybe I'll edit tomorrow or let it stand as is. Take care, thanks for buying, kee

p it going and thanks to EVERYONE that came out in the rain today.


Chickens who are raised on the farm, processed on the farm. The grass is there, which means they aren't sitting in manure- which means when I go to process, I get to start with a clean bird.

First year garden at new farm. According to GAP rules which will be mandatory for vegetable producers in the future, we couldn't sell produce because we also raise animals in the vicinity.

Two week old chicks first day on half way house. That is the life. I put the food and water outside later to force them to go outside and get used to the great outdoors.

Wonderful addition to the farm. I started with a 5 frame nuc- quickly added a second hive body, then a medium super, and now a second super as the first is nearly filled.

Bees on busy day.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Week Aheads

I am clocking out to go to bed. The excavator is being delivered tomorrow. Grandpa is digging out the hole, we're going to pour the footing, then lay blocks for our foundation, drainage, dig the lines to the well- put the sill and decking on, and then that'll be that for a little. Of course, not all in one day.
I spent part of the day making calls to time out transportation of the excavator, ordering the blocks, trying to get hold of a transit level/laser, etc. and the last few hours cutting out the rest of the driveway, and the rest of the trees that need to go before the house gets in. Mowed around the well with the DR brush, and cut more Birch. Moved the hens into the pumpkin patch that was harrowed under. I figured that was a good move. I can leave the hens in that area for the next week, really fertilize it, and not worry about any hovering of the field. Broilers are good down to 90.

So behind for the next week or so until the cellar is done. Excited about getting that started/done and the learning in between.
Very excited about farm ending this season. Cover cropping looks great, getting final fertility by rapidly moving broilers. Enjoying the grass based farm. Looking forward to more brush clearing later in fall. Replacing brush with berries next year

whose purr sounds like
stereo in between frequencies
Bathed in the sunbeam of a day
so young it is dying

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Night timet thoughts

Chainsaw sharpen Plow behind as always wanting more time flies away itchy poison ivy annoyed with gotta sleep

Friday, August 14, 2009

Clocking out

I am heading right off to bed, no pics-
Whom ever is the ever most awseome CSA-er to leave an old fake wood pannelled alarm clock with their empty milk bottle- THANKS!
That new, white plastic little bugger Marianne bought is going into hiding.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Alarm Clock

My alarm clock is a small, plastic box that is oddly patterned after the same fake wood paneling found in cheap apartments from the early 80's. The lettering has worn mostly off from the "hour" and "Alarm" buttons. The ring- or oddly constructed "err, err" used to annoy me endlessly so that I became well in the habit to wake up minutes before it was due to go off, and get out of bed.

I play a game at night trying to determine the best time the alarm is to be set. This has become increasingly difficult since the hour button does not properly work in response to pushing it. I try to determine whether I should be up earlier or have the luxury of sleeping in a few extra minutes.For the last few weeks the hour digit has been set to five oclock- a Sunday luxury of sleeping in till 6:03 would cost me a few minutes of wearied patience trying to get the clock back to "5"

The first minute digit cannot be a set on a zero, five or four. Sevens and threes are preferable- but 3's can only be used for :03 past the top of the hour or :23 past the top. for example: 5:03 or 5:23.- never 5:43 7's are fine with 5:27. albeit an "eight" is a must if upon looking at the clock an eight comes to the mind. But 5:08 would never be acceptable. Sometimes I try to squeeze in a few extra minutes, and will come to a 9, for example 5:29- but 2 + 9 is 11 so 5:31 would be preferable, but I despise setting the clock to thirty past the hour so 5:41 would be the correct choice, then I would just have to wake up faster to make up for the 10 extra minutes. The teens are completely open to use- 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 16 17 18 19- Except for 14/15, 12 was my QB number and for good dreams that will not be remembered, 13 is for three, 16 is young, 17 is lost, 18 is strong, 19 forgotten.

The 6 and 5 on the hour digit are identical. Marianne recently purchased an alarm to replace this one. She bought a white, near replica- I couldn't use a white clock, and had to have it turned away from the bed for the first night. I used mine.


Going well. Some lettuce, beets, kale for salad mix came up nicely, but the arugula did not. Not quite sure what I will do without that mass of arugula for the CSA.
We finished the hay this weekend. Had a blast with my grandfather. The baler kept acting up- so he was on the tractor more often than not. I ended up loading most of the trucks, which was more tiresome than I thought it would be. I had leg cramps this morning, and decidedly took an hour or so off before work for lunch and rest. Enjoyed the haying for several reasons- one the obvious of capturing energy from our new land, secondly with my grandfather, and the lost thoughts while working through a couple days- and Juicy fruit gum and a two dollar bag of nacho chips.
I had a gallon jug of water, a 5 stick pack of juicy fruit, and the bag of chips, intent upon the pleasure of treating myself to some small luxuries while taking care of the hay for the day. The jug of water was cold pleasure upon sitting in the truck between picking up bales, the salty chips enough fill for the stomach without becoming lethargic, and the gum an old unending childhood oral pleasure that I am actually to cheap to indulge into anymore. The only unfortunateness of the whole gum, chip, water experience amidst the hay was the inability to enjoy them all at the same time. Chips/Water were a fine combo, Gum/Water was ok, but took the mild skill of hiding the gum high into the pallate so as not to wash the flavor immediately away- but chip/gum simply was not compatible. I could not enjoy the crunchy, salty goodness of the chip with the sweet, mouthwatering juiciness of the gum. In all, this Romeo/Juliet fiasco ended with two sticks of very well enjoyed gum, and a bag of chips washed down with nearly the whole jug of water- we finished at 8:30 on Saturday- with custard and good company, and touched up the rest on Sunday for a good weekend.

I had a very nice patch of Peas, Vetch, Oats in the garden. Since the piece had dried out with this recent blast of nice weather, I decided now would be a good time to get it under and planted in rye. Our building application has been approved, so trying to get ahead on some things. I decided to just mow the piece with a DR mower I got from a neighbor, then harrow it with a couple passes, rye grass, then harrow once more. Worked beautifully. I thought of the Robert Frost poem with the lines,
"Before the leaves can mount again
To fill the trees with another shade,
They must go down past things coming up"

And thought of the thick mass of summer growth decaying into the garden plot. So I thought best of harrowing it instead of using the tiller to mix it evenly into the soil. I think upon reflection- the mowing should have sufficed, but the piece looks very fine now. Going to let rye grass grow through late spring, then till, buckwheat, then rye again. (some witch grass nearby, that I think a bit of cover crop/till will help hamper)

Pictures from the farm- Enjoy.

Grandpa's New Tractor- Massey 255. Truck came in handy again since it has a pindle. The tractors nice to have around- bigger so easier to pull me out of my grandmother's garden.
Peas/Vetch/Oats cover crop before. Actually, this is a PVO piece that has pumpkins planted into it (with pumpkins forming!!)
PVO piece after tilling. Eat earthy worms eat! Hope I did not disturb you much- was getting dryer so hopefully you were all down deeper.
Messy Truck. Bag of rye, water, chips, straps, sleepy going to bed.