Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day 25: Farm Day!

When we first started this project, Dan and I both had a grocery store mentality about our year ahead. Because we live so close to so many farms and year round farmer's markets, we assumed meat would be at our fingertips and very easy to get. We quickly learned that this is not the case.

While we do have many farms in the state of Washington, we were surprised to learn that even meat has a season. Chicken is available in the spring and the fall, lamb in the late summer, and beef in November. You have to order well in advance, and if you don't order enough, well, you are just out of luck until next season.

Of course, grocery stores breed us to think that we can get whatever we want, whenever we want. We consume and consume without even a second thought to the unnatural state of our food. We are so disconnected that we see meat as a protein source, rather than a functioning, seasonal part of our eco-system. At least, we did.

So we got with it, and quick, knowing that the year ahead would feel long and bleak without a good variety at our fingertips.

Beef was an easy thing to find for us, as I'm fortunate enough to have a brother and sister-in-law who raise grass fed beef in Eastern Washington. Lamb was fairly easy, as well, only because we realized the season and ordered in time. Chicken, on the other hand, was consistently hard to find. At least, at a good price.

Anywhere from $7 a pound to $11 a pound at the farmer's markets, and local farms didn't seem to be much of a savings. We found one place up north that was a great deal - $3 a pound - but we would have to slaughter and pluck our own chickens, and neither of us were up for that quite yet. Maybe next year.

By the time I found Fraction Farms in Eatonville, I was at my wits end. We ordered just in time, and at $4 a pound, we couldn't complain. After some consideration, we decided 5 chickens would be enough, given all the lamb and beef we were about to come into. A few months passed and soon we had an email--you're chickens are ready! So this weekend we piled into the car and made the voyage south to pick up our bounty.

Fraction Farms, upon arrival, immediately struck me as the type of farm I would want to have, if I were to become a farmer. A quaint, flat piece of land, a place to call home, and a diverse array of animals. Among them? Sheep, which not only act as a food supply, but also a wool supply that Inger, the owner, spins and then turns into custom knits. Dogs, whose sole purpose is to protect the animals from predators. The result? Less fencing and zero chickens lost to predators. Chickens, who are growing now to lay eggs, and soon, to mother the next batch of chickens she raises for slaughter. A more organic solution than raising them herself, which, one might guess, would result in happier birds. And a moving chicken coop, which gets moved daily, to allow the chickens fresh pecking ground and helping the pasture regenerate organically. And let's not forget about the cuteness in the form of a mini-horse, used to acclimatize her two young daughters to horses, while teaching them the value of saving up for something they want.

And our chickens? We walked away with 5 of the prettiest, plumpest and cleanest chickens I've ever seen. I'm looking forward to making roast chicken, and even more excited about ordering again from Inger next year.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you had a beautiful day for your farm trip. It also looks like your budget is pretty good.

    I like the idea of a movable chicken pen. Chickens are great at getting rid of bugs, and they fertilize as they go.