Do your birds really go outside and run around and eat bugs?
Yes! Our meat birds have a mobile shelter with only pasture for a floor and a roomy chicken yard. In the morning and evenings they peck around in the yard. In the hot part of the day, when they like to be in the shade, they usually stay in a shelter, but when the sun is not so high, you can hear their beaks clicking as they snap up greens. Our pasture is planted in rye grass and clover. We do not raise meat birds during the cold season. Our laying hens live in a standing structure with insulation during the winter to protect them from the winds and open sides during the summer to let the breezes cool them. They go outside every day in a very large pasture, and because the vegetation near their house gets eaten down during the growing season, we rotate the parts of the yard nearest their building to give the greens a chance to grow back. We scatter grains for them outside every day, shouting “Here, chick chick chick chick chick!!” which encourages them to be outside more and also trains them to come when we call, which is useful if some of them wander outside their yard.
Are your birds organic?
We feed our birds grain that has been raised without chemical inputs and we care for their health using natural remedies, such as cider vinegar. A healthy lifestyle with fresh air, greens to eat, and a comparatively small flock helps maintain their health as well, so we do not need to use antibiotics like conventional producers might. No chemical sprays are used on their pastures, and we work hard to allow them to enjoy the best, healthiest life they can. If you would like to know more about our work, you’re welcome to come see it. Please let us know if you are coming for a visit.
How do you raise your hogs?
Chickens are definitely our main focus, but every year, we enjoy raising a very small number of hogs that we sell by halves and wholes. Raising hogs also allows us to keep a large amount of food from going to waste. Every day we gather a number of our amazing eggs that we can’t sell because they have hairline cracks in their shells. We hard-boil these eggs, then feed them to the hogs who seem to really enjoy them.
Our hogs live in an old-style pig pen with a shelters and a yard where they like to wallow and play around and sometimes sleep under the stars on nice nights. Along with the eggs, we feed them organic hog feed along with leftover garden vegetables and some vegetarian table scraps. (Those table scraps are not 100 percent organic. We hold the hogs’ diet to a slightly lower standard in that way than our chickens, which never get any food from us that does not meet organic standards.) We don’t give the hogs hormones or routine antibiotics. On the very rare occasions when an animal has become sick, I have followed the vet’s instructions about what kind of medicine is needed and then waited twice as long as is recommended before butchering.