My wife and I aspire to be conscious concerning the food that we eat. When buying vegetables we prefer organic and try to search out veggies that have not been sprayed with pesticides and other toxic substances. The Farmer’s Market (La Feria) in San Ramon has a couple of vendors that offer a vast array of quality organic foods. When purchasing meat (I am a BIG meat eater) we will always choose organic if it’s available and feasible. The central questions that concern us regarding our meat, eggs, and dairy are: What are the animals fed? How are they treated? Do the animals have the ability to roam relatively freely? Are they treated with a basic level of respect? Are their lives enjoyable or are they miserable, stressed out, and frightened? In addition to the basic humanity issues that are at the heart of these questions, some would furthermore argue that if an animal is fed food that lacks proper nutrition, gets injected with hormones and steroids, is restricted from exercise and lives a generally miserable and stressed existence, that each and every bit of that negative energy gets passed on to the person eating this animal’s flesh or their products… We’ve started to buy raw milk from some local farmer friends of ours because we have known them for years. They walk their cows every single day and it is from one pasture to another. We have witnessed their operation for a long time and like what we see. My wife Anna has been asking me to build a chicken coop and get some hens for awhile now, and I finally got it done for her about a week and a half ago. Once the coop was built, it was time for me to go select 3 hens to get us started… I realize that commercial farms have a steep challenge if they want to raise their chickens the way that we believe to be ideal. It’s no simple feat to have 7,000 some odd hens roaming free if you hope to have some organization and don’t want to be stepping in chicken poop every time you turn around (LOL). That being said, the operation that I visited to select our hens really opened my eyes and confirmed that we were making the correct choice.
From when they are chicks until they reach egg-laying age (5-6 months from what I understand) the chickens have a fairly large area to walk around and peck in. It’s once they reach egg-laying age that they get locked in a very small stacked cage area. Here they remain (4-6 hens packed tightly in each small cage) until they stop producing… As I stated earlier- I am not naive about commercial farms and how difficult and costly it would be to do things differently. I am just extremely happy that we live in a place where we can raise our own chickens and let them range freely. Many commercial farms have a simple tenement-like area setup for the chickens so they can max out on their eggs and profit margin.
Fortunately, we are a small family and can get by on the fruits of 3-4 hens. We’re starting with three for now and will see how it plays out. They adjusted to their new home pretty quickly and seem to be happy with the accommodations. A few days ago we got our 1st eggs! Anna fried up our fresh harvest with some gallo pinto, platanos, tierno (fried cheese), shredded cabbage and some steak. Not bad for a couple of “city slickers”, huh? Pura Vida!!!