We’re hearing a distinct clamor in Irish Grove these days.
What began as a few appeals, inquiries, and an occasional nudge, perhaps, has steadily grown to what I might deem a racket, a ruckus, a downright cacophony.
Allright, so cacophony may be a slight exaggeration.
People want chickens. They want home-grown, cage-free, organically-fed, pastured chickens. And I can’t say I blame them.
Most of you know how I feel about store-bought chickens. If not, go get enlightened here.
But raising a couple hundred chickens for these nice, chicken-loving souls who find themselves at the mercy of Tyson concentration camps….well this endeavor holds one very large, daunting, avoidance-inducing problem for your friendly Irish Grove farmers.
The problem is the processing. Butchering. Killing. There I said it. Yes, unfortunately we have to kill the birds to eat them. PETA followers be satisfied.
(An aside: Joe Salatin says PETA stands for People who Eat Tasty Animals. Which is funny for everyone except PETA members.)
(In full disclosure, I used to be a member of PETA.)
(And a vegetarian.)
The only USDA certified processing plant in Illinois is in Arthur, IL. Which is a 4.5 hour drive from here.
4.5 hour drive!!
This would be my day on processing day:
2:00 AM: Load chickens into crates.
3:00 AM: Leave for Arthur.
7:30 AM: Drop birds off for processing.
8:00 AM: Take truck to car wash for cleaning.
9:00 AM: Eat something.
10:00 AM: Try to nap.
2:00 PM: Pick up processed chickens, pack into coolers.
3:00 PM: Leave for home
7:30 PM: Arrive home.
8:00 PM: Move chickens to freezers.
9:00 PM: Shower!
10:00 PM: Collapse in bed.
How much fun is that!?!?!
Seriously, guys. When we talk about sustainable farming, we sometimes forget to take into account how sustainable the operation is for the farmer, as well as for the land and animals.
Can I do this once each summer? Sure, definitely. Would I do this more than once? Not so sure. Would it be worthwhile to invest time and money into the cages, coolers, moveable chicken pens, etc., for one trip to Arthur with 150 birds or so? Yeah, probably not.
And therein lies the problem. I want to raise chickens for ya. I really do. I know the demand is there. So I ask you:
Would you buy chickens that were processed on the farm?
Would you come on a pre-planned day, bring your own plastic bags, bag your own processed birds, and keep your committment to do so?
Most importantly, would you mind buying chickens that have been processed while on roller-skates.
I’m really asking the hard-hitting questions now, aren’t I? But I ask for a reason:
Honestly, home processing is really the only way I can imagine raising chickens for ya. Let me know what you think.