Friday, January 21, 2011

Evansville Farmers' Market 2011!!!

Hi all!  My name is Renee Frank, Oregon, WI, and I am one of the Evansville Farmer’s Market managers and a locavore! (locavore’s are people who strive to source their food locally)  While I don’t live in Evansville, I have many friends that do live there.  I was pleased to meet many new people this past fall as the EFM started up.  I sold eggs, beef, chicken, lamb and some veggies.  This year I will be adding hand-woven dish towels to my stand and locally spun yarn. 

My flock of Shetland Sheep has been providing me with many gifts since we bought them two years ago.  They not only gift me with a variety of colored wool, they also give wonderful milk for homemade cheese as well as very lean, flavorful and tender lamb in the winter.  Each spring, our lovely ladies surprise us with many sets of twins and once in a while – triplets! 

As a conscientious omnivore, I value the life of all creatures around me but recognize that sometimes their gifts to my life come at the expense of theirs.  Having chickens and sheep for consumption has really made me call into question my decision to eat meat.  Living in America, I have access to every nutrient my body could need so why eat meat?  My answer was simple – it is REAL food.

When my husband and I purchased our 9 acre farm in 1999, I went to work finding ways to produce enough food, most of the year, to feed my family.  Our animals are raised with as much fresh air and sunshine as they want.  We provide shelter, water and unlimited amounts of pasture.  I supplement rarely with feed that has been mixed for me by the Oregon Feed Mill.  This feed contains NO animal by-products and is primarily a soy/corn mix. 

This brings me to my life lesson of farm life.  I like meat.  I love animals.  I dislike killing.  How do I satisfy this dilemma?  By choosing to eat meat only from my farm as much as possible, I know that the animal who gave its life for me enjoyed its time on the planet free of fear and full of love.  I thank each animal for the gift of quality nutrition for not only my family but also every person who buys from me.  I do agree that in consuming meat, I am leaving a larger footprint on the planet than just sticking to plants but given my animals are eating out of my pasture, eating my hay, enjoying some supplementary grain produced in the surrounding fields I feel that footprint is much reduced. 

All of this cements the lesson of the importance of knowing where your food comes from and how it made it to your plate.  Being a contentious omnivore is tough but well worth the effort.  Check out a local farmer in your area and ask if they will be in the 2011 Evansville Farmer’s Market.

New from the Hen House

Spring 2010

Hi all and welcome to my first edition of “News from the Hen House.”  My name is Brad and I’m not really sure how I got stuck in the hen house but seeing I’m one gorgeous rooster, I know I’m in the right place.  My only question is why there are so many other roosters here?  I’ll explore that one another day.  Today, I want to formally lodge a complaint with the human department.  I realize it is spring again and the girls all look so pretty after being cooped up all winter but seriously, did my human have to bring those white birds here again? 

Every fall, the laying hens and I eat our fill of free range protein.  You know bugs, grubs, worms etc.  We also clean out the fields of seeds and then our human locks us up for the winter.  I’m not complaining.  She keeps it warm and provides easy food and ice free water.  We’ve got a wonderful southern exposure for our hen house along with two enormous windows to let as much light as possible in during those cold Wisconsin winters.  All in all, it’s a pretty good life.
As soon as the snows begin to melt, our human lets us out to the fresh air and sunshine and we joyously go back to looking for that first source of fresh protein!  That’s when worms taste the best!  Maybe it’s because we have been eating dry food and table scraps all winter or maybe the worms really do taste sweeter, I don’t know but I love spring.  The girls all look so lovely and their attitudes completely change.  It’s amazing how broody they can get.  I can’t even get near some of the girls late in the winter; they are so sick of being cooped up.  Now though, love is definitely in the air.  O la la. 
I’ve been working on my strut and preening my feathers like crazy.  It’s tough to be alpha male and not get damaged.  I’ve held my position for about five years now and rarely have to remind the others of their place except during spring.  I swear, all winter, us boys get along fine, almost better than the girls, but then spring rolls along and the underlings feel the need to test their place in the pecking order.  Luckily, I took those self-defense classes held at the hatchery when I was just a day old.  It has really paid off.  Normally, I just have to fluff up my hackle feathers and do a little shadow boxing and the issue is solved.  Once in a while, I put my glorious spurs to good use in reminding my opponents just who the alpha is.  I love those days but I digress.
The real reason I am writing today is to let you all know how unhappy I am with my human and her choice to bring in these infant white chicks.  Yes, I do mean chicks, every last one of them.  You’d think I’d be happy about that, being a rooster and all, but I’m not.  These chicks started out cute, fluffy and a very attractive shade of yellow but this was to soon change.  Within weeks, they lost their cute, fluffy, yellow feathers and started growing out white feathers.  They go anywhere near dirt and they look terrible.  Did I tell you what pigs they are?  No, not literally but almost.  They dive into the easy food our human puts out, with such vigor that there is barely anything left for us grownups, unbelievable!  They look down their beaks as I work hard all day, scratching in the dirt, yard, and compost pile, looking for my food.  I enjoy my daily dirt baths by the dog kennel and drink my water from a turtle shaped pond when suddenly; I have to share all of that with these monsters!  I would look for other housing except there are hawks, coyotes, and foxes all over this country side, so I guess I’m stuck living with them.  I know they won’t be here long.  In the past years, they all disappeared halfway through summer.  I hope that’s the case this year.  They are noisy and bossy.   Do any of you roosters have this challenge?  I’d love to hear from you and your thoughts on these invasive additions to our hen house.  Thanks for reading and get out and scratch some dirt today!
-Hunting for new hens,
Mediterranean Leghorn Rooster
Alpha Male of the Hen House
Former mate to Angelina, (rest in peace due to the sly fox)