A different feeling

Do you feel it? There’s something different in the air. A coolness. A freshness. Some new cloud formations, a new wind direction. The wet moisture stream from the south has subsided, for now. We’re not saying the monsoonal flow has disappeared for the season, but the air this week certainly has had a twinge of fall. What’s responsible for this temporary change? A serious long-wave trough parked in the northwest that’s pushing winter-like weather patterns down into Colorado, bringing cooler air, northwesterly breezes and mid-level cloudiness. If that trough sticks around for a while … uhm …. okay, we don’t want to jinx anything. Let’s just leave this discussion with the fact we like the monsoon and welcome its return!

Unfortunately there’s something else we feel in the air tonight as well. And it’s depressing. To summarize, we have a president who is emboldening those who hate. Where this will lead is anyone’s guess, but we’re watching events closely. What’s this got to do with farming and goodness? It’s just a reminder for us that we must all come together to continue to support each other with love. Take care of yourselves and one another. Gather ’round your families, your community, your loved ones. Gather ’round the healthy food we produce with lots of good loving. We loved the bumper sticker during the Presidential campaign, “Love trumps hate.” That expression has never been more apropos.

Changing subjects drastically now, we’ve been asked numerous times to explain how we raise our pastured poultry.

Without getting too technical, we’ll explain some of the process. The little baby chicks arrive as three-day olds, in a box down at the Post Office after a long couple days of travel from Quakerstown, Pa., where our hatchery is located. We usually have 100% survivability for these travelers, who all huddle close together on their feet, supporting each other to keep themselves from falling down and getting smothered (that’s a nice metaphor for what’s needed right now in this world!). We call it the “chick mosh pit,” since they sway all together to the forces of curves, bumps, descents and ascents. These chicks can go for as long as 5 days or so without food or water, so they’re usually good-to-go when they arrive. We introduce them to water and to their grain in the brooder upon arrival and provide some heat lamps to keep them warm (95 degrees is preferred for the first couple days, even in the heat of summer).

They will reside in the brooder for four weeks before being introduced to the great outdoors and all the weather variations this region provides. In the spring, that might be snow, sleet, strong winds, while in the summer they have to contend with heavy downpours, hot afternoons, and sometimes dry conditions. A little secret in our raising these birds, and we believe this is quite unique in our small community of pastured poultry producers, is that we start feeding these little guys greens from the garden at about 2.5 weeks of age. These greens can be collard greens, salad greens, chard, kale, spinach, amaranth, chinese cabbage, some of the same veggies you see in your CSA produce boxes. The greens, like the fresh grass they will eventually have access to on a daily basis, acts as a natural antibiotic and an anti-oxidant. It’s part of what makes them so healthy, so nutritious and so yummy. And the birds love ‘em!

It’s a veritable feeding frenzy over fresh greens introduced to three-week old broiler chicks.

Once out in the field, the birds are housed in pens that allow us to move the chickens everyday onto fresh pasture. The birds leave behind a very uniform layer of fertilizer, resulting in an amazingly healthy grass pasture. These pens also allow us to protect the young birds from winds and moisture, by rolling up and down their sides, and provides adequate shading from the intense sun at our 7,100′ elevation. The pens also allow us to manage the different age groups better by segregating them. The pens are large enough for the chickens to roam, be on their feet, spread their wings, scratch for insects, feel the winds, and enjoy the morning and evening sun. Besides grass and insects, the chickens are fed an organic, non-GMO grain that is sourced from the Western Slope.

 

Pastured poultry pens marching down the multi-species intensively rotated pasture.

At 10 weeks of age we butcher the birds in our state certified processing plant. We won’t go into those details, but rest-assured we treat them with the same care and love when butchering as we do when they’re alive. We’re grateful for the nutrition these chickens give us humans,  for the food they provide the many soil organisms through their composted “waste” from the plant, and the fertility they provide the pasture. It’s really all about LIFE, not death.

Anyway, that’s a quick explanation of how we raise the pastured poultry. Grass-fed meat lovers should be aware that we still have turkeys available for the holiday season and winter storage chickens to put in the freezer. We also have one and one-half pigs available. The pigs are purchased by the half (or whole), and cut in pieces (bacon, sausage, hams, roasts, ribs, etc.), delivered frozen in the fall. Please use the “Meat Order Form” in the “Farm” button on this website for ordering.

Okay, what’s in your boxes this week? In Anne’s words, “Summer’s bounty is coming to you.  This week’s box contains salad mix, arugula, kale, cilantro, broccoli, beans, fennel, carrot, beet, zucchini, cucumber, scallions and tomatoes. Wow! Enjoy the variety.” Remember, we can reuse your boxes,  bags and egg cartons (if they’re clean). Please remember that your veggies are not washed.

Have a great week! Stay positive, vigilant and kind.