Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

My Vermont Farm: Chicken Killing at Home

This week was a doozy on the farm. It was the first of the chicken killing. And we let the Brooklyn foodie do the work. Full story here: From The Huffington Post:
Last night, we had fourteen people over for dinner. And they wanted chicken. Good thing we had some…but they were running around. And so it was–all in the name of well balanced meals–farm life came down to its grittiest. I live and work on a farm in central Vermont, and there’s always family around. That means a lot of emotional turmoil (and joy, ehem), a lot of secretly chugging whiskey in the closet (not really, but really), and best of all–extra hands. No one visits without pitching in. And now that it’s late August, the farm work is at its peak. Harvesting, preserving food for winter, and chicken killing. While some may balk (bawwwk) at the idea of taking a life on the grounds of a homestead, we do it for the sake of food–not sport–and when it comes down to it, for the sake of the chicken itself. It’s not indulging in sadism, nor for power over an animal, nor an image of something hardcore and awesome to impress the neighbors. It’s about being connected to the very foundations of self sufficiency, and understanding that meat does not simply fall from the sky, packaged on a shelf in a supermarket; it comes from a living, breathing being. Chicken killing at home is deep. Emotional. Ethical. As Joel Salatin says in his book Pastured Poultry Profit$, it’s necessary:
“Animal rights activists, for all their misdirection, are right on target when pushing for animal slaughter as close to the point of production as possible. Not only does it relieve [the chicken's] stress, a direct cause of tough meat, but is far more environmentally sensible.”
Joel Salatin is at the forefront of the farming movement. His name is becoming household, and his practices are emulated across the country. He’s the farmer who changed Michael Pollan’s life, in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, remember? He’s the farmer young farmers want to be; he makes money farming, but he does it right–his animals live according to their “ness”, which means closest to their nature. And while most chicken producers send their birds long distances to slaughter houses (which really stresses out the chickens in their final days), like us–and many other small farmers in Vermont–Salatin supports the at-home processing method. To him, it represents the very foundation of his respect for his animals. He says:
“We have customers who occasionally like to come out and ‘get connected’ to their food…If one of our ultimate goals is to reconnect the urban and rural sectors of our culture, on-farm processing affords us a technique to accomplish that goal.”
[...]
Read the entire article here.


Inside the Rise of the Local Grains Movement

Our daily bread. Breaking bread together. Bread and butter. These are all common phrases that reflect bread’s foundational role in our diet and in the building of our civilization. The stored energy of grain first allowed our ancestors to shift from nomadic hunting and gathering to building settled communities—even great cities. So why in an […] Read More..

3 Ways Spraying More Herbicides on Public Land is Bad

The following is a guest post by Tao Orion, author of Beyond the War on Invasive Species. It is an open letter to the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regarding its proposal to add three new herbicides for invasive species management on western public lands. Find out below, how you can voice your concerns […] Read More..

Arid Agriculture: How to Reduce Heat Stress in Crops and Livestock

Regardless of where you stand on the climate change issue, there’s one reality few can deny. During the summer, many places in North America are now regularly suffering temperatures above 100˚F, whereas they rarely did in the past. It’s also widely known that such high temperatures put heat stress on crops that are not very […] Read More..

When it Comes to Invasive Species, Just Say NO to Eradication

What if we looked beyond the notion of invasive species as enemies, and instead harnessed them for beneficial uses? Beyond the War on Invasive Species offers just such a bold alternative to the chemical and intensive eradication efforts, one that is holistic and inspired by permaculture principles. First-time author Tao Orion makes a compelling case […] Read More..

A Conversation with Medicinal Herb Farmers Jeff and Melanie Carpenter

In their new book, The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer, Jeff and Melanie Carpenter offer a business guide and farming manual on how to successfully grow and market organic medicinal herbs. The Carpenters cover the basic practical information any grower needs to get an organic herb farm up and running, including size and scale considerations, soil […] Read More..