The Chickens Have Arrived!


| 5/9/2011 9:40:06 AM


Tags: backyard chickens, eggs, local food, Cam Mather,

Michelle and I have been vegetarian for 21 years now and more recently we’ve started to eliminate dairy products from our diet as well. Now that there are so many alternatives to dairy products and they are much easier to obtain, we feel better not eating dairy for a number of reasons. I’ve always had a slight intolerance to lactose and as I get older my intolerance seems to be getting worse. We also are concerned about the welfare of dairy cows and until we acquire our own cow so as to be assured that she is well treated (and we don’t plan on acquiring a cow!), we just feel better not purchasing milk or cheese. The same is true for eggs – unless we are sure that the chickens laying the eggs we eat are raised humanely, we’d rather go without them.

 

For years we’ve been buying our eggs from a local organic farmer but last fall, as his chickens grew too old to lay eggs, he decided to not replace them. So for the last few months we’ve had to travel further to buy organic eggs from another (less) local farmer or we’ve just done without them. Hopefully our egg supply is about to become a lot more local … on Friday we welcomed two chickens into the family!
 

We became vegetarian for three main reasons; ethical, health and environmental. I think most people get the ethical thing and I think as more and more of our meat is produced on  “factory farms,” I think this is more important than ever. I also think most people get the health component of a vegetarian diet and are trying to eat “less” meat. We just thought if you should eat “less” of it, maybe you shouldn’t eat it at all. The environmental argument for vegetarianism is becoming more well known too. Raising cows uses a great deal of resources such as water and produces enormous quantities of methane gas and waste. It is also an inefficient use of grain as it takes 12 to 16 pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef. I prefer to eat the grain directly and it’s why I like to refer to myself as a “carbo-tarian,” focusing on breads and pasta and rice and other carbohydrates. When we became vegetarian, doubting friends and family members suggested that we’d be weak and sickly all the time, but then I realized that runners don’t eat steak before marathons, they “carbo-pack” to provide their bodies with readily usable energy, so that’s the way I eat. I could actually be a “pizza-tarian” and eat only pizza, but Michelle insists that we have some variety in our diet.
 

The grain numbers for pork are lower than beef, and I think chicken and eggs take about 3 pounds of grain to produce one pound of animal protein. So I guess true, hardcore vegetarians would say that I’ve sold out. And I guess they’d be correct. But I think growing food I have a unique perspective on the whole concept of raising animals. I grow on a very sandy soil. I need to supplement it and I do that with animal manure. I’m lucky because my neighbor Alyce provides me with horse manure. But the reality is that I don’t think my land would be as productive as it is without with manure. I could use green manure, but then I’d need a tractor to till under my clover and it would require diesel fuel.

My friend Andrew McCann who did his Masters degree in Sustainable Agriculture emphasized to me that animals can be an important part of an integrated and sustainable farm. So I decided it was time to give it a try.
 




Crowd at Seven Springs MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Sept. 15-17, 2017
Seven Springs, PA.

With more than 150 workshops, there is no shortage of informative demonstrations and lectures to educate and entertain you over the weekend.

LEARN MORE