Saturday, March 7, 2009

hippychickenfarmer talks back

i have recently enjoyed pleasurable conversations with a good number of truly inspiring individuals researching and planning for future explorations in sustainable living. many are actively making steps forward. others live the life of sustainability fully, having lived this way since the beginning of their days.

it proves humbling when asked for advice and/or for my insight on specific baby step sustainable topics. it was not so long ago that i was in city girl mode thinking and dreaming about a little farm, a piece of land, a home, loving creatures, seeds popping through dirt and quiet quiet quiet.

so with great humility, i offer the following bits of hippychick insight and conversation.
i wish to thank ms. morgan for her permission to use the following edited bits from our shared communications.

Topic - Countryside Magazine
Thanks again for the great recommendation on the publication. I just received the Mar/April issue and I read 1/2 of it last night!!!

I love all the information and advice about being a homesteader. But I will say there were letters in there that frightened me. Lots of talk about us heading for another Great Depression and the direness of the world.

I am not naive but I am trying to stay optimistic but I was really getting a doomsday feeling from some of the letters.

And there was the woman's letter about the "reality" of homesteading and how greenhorns (like me) seem to not get it. I kind of felt like she was angry about people trying to see if this life works for them.

Ah well I guess that is what diversity does for us.
ms. m - many of the folk writing in to countryside magazine have been living the life of survival and sustainability for all of their days. they innately understand and respect the relationship man shares with nature and creatures in a way that many of us "cityfolk" do not. and if you honestly look at our culture (american culture that is) you might discover that rural life and rural folk have continually been punished for their choices. they endure life without technology. (and many prefer it so) in other cases they live without the comfort of a quick 911 response or the sureness that an ambulance will come to their assistance if needed. and this does not even touch what farmers go through in order to make a living.

they depend fully upon themselves and their community which is an investment of trust that many of us have not developed beyond our own close ties with family.

i myself, daily, experience trust issues. in turn i am continually surprised and often privately come to tears to learn of the good deeds my neighbors gift me with, the knowledge they offer freely and share and the ways in which they kindly correct my understanding of a task.

you must open yourself fully to learn the ways of the folk as much as you must open yourself to learn the ways of the land and the ways of the creatures.

i suggest you start by visiting the local feed stores. go in and listen listen listen. slowly travel around, scan the shelves, read the labels and take a whole lot of time educating yourself on the physical, mental and monetary cost of the sustainable self-reliant life. you will soon find that it's not always body cheap, faith cheap or money cheap. you will also find that most of the actively sustainable folk spend more money on the upkeep of their land and their creatures than they do on themselves.

these hard working folk are selfless in their giving and relentless in their commitment. and some have a hard time trusting that "the city folk will ever get it". i understand that sentiment. i may not follow it with as much verve as the originating author but i certainly wonder too if "enough" city folk will get it.

our american dream urban culture is a waste culture. true there are a whole lot of folk, myself included, working individually away from that type of lifestyle, but it's still touted and believed by many to stand a mark of status and of wealth when a person is able to simply buy and buy and buy and buy and buy.

sure enough many of the buyers are in a credit crunch wake up call as i write. and sure enough, some hear the call some do not.

do not focus on the doomsday but do plan and practice. focus on the positive. take your baby steps and smile with each one. everyday is a day forward. you will step back and step forward, we all do along way. keep yourself in the right direction, recognize your failures, learn from them and successes will follow big or small as they may be.

Topic - Raising and Butchering meat chickens

So I have a question for you - how did you get over the killing a cute fluffy chicken feeling? I read on your blog that you thought that might be a challenge for you.

Also - the woman mentioned above pointed out that greenhorns needs to be prepared to hunt and butcher with their own hands. Have you started butchering your chickens yourself? Do you think you will work up to that step? Have homesteaders been successful in "farming out" the dirty work?

how did i get over the killing of a cute fluffy chicken feeling? that's a great question.

i began a daily mental preparation for the butchering of the flock upon my first speaking with jm hatchery and ordering my first batch of french freedom range chickens (30 total). i had prior to that moment performed extensive research on the subject, spoke with many experienced folk on the topic and viewed many a helpful web sites that explained the butchering process step by step with photos and all. i figured, if i could not stomach the photos then i could not begin the journey toward raising my own meat chickens. oddly enough i stomached the images and the process when performed humanely just fine.

i had also made a private decision that if in the process of raising my own meat chickens i, myself, could not raise and butcher then i would choose to eat a vegetarian diet until such time that i could take responsibility for my meat habit from beginning to end. it was a personal endeavor. i did not expect others to follow nor do i expect that now. for me, it makes sense and it's part of who i am developing to be with each day that passes.

i have always liked to do things myself. i am stubborn that way as many of my friends and family may tell. laugh it up folks, i know it's true. but in the being of my stubbornness, i am also determined and committed.

so being said, i continued my daily mental "these chickens are meant for dinner" practice. i must say that having my laying chickens/pets did help. truth be told, i treat "the meaties" with an equal respect and care as i do my eggy-layers. after all, it is my food that they are to be. i want to do all that i can to ensure a superior quality food source.

i decided weeks before we were to butcher our first chicken to look into Hopi ritual hunting prayers. i studied several, memorized one and said it over each and every chicken brought to butcher. i also made up a little song that i sing to each chicken. it's a song that only the chickens hear. there are times when i sing the chicken song the night before and there are times when i sing the chicken song moments before butchering.

the making of the song was sporadic, it just happened. i consider it my own little Hopi prayer of thanks and it is sticking. it is now my way. and if you wonder, it is a cheerful song and i think they like it. chickens do enjoy music, then again, who does not.

i have another batch of meat chickens arriving in the later weeks of march and i may begin singing the song to the chickens earlier in their lives.

in regard to the butchering and/or the question of "farming out the process" - i performed the butchering process myself with the great help and deep wisdom of my wonderful (former chicken farmer, now renewed chicken farmer as we venture forward together) neighbor. he has been a blessing to me. he showed me the ropes. i watched carefully and listened while following his first lead. he and i butchered every single chicken together.

i do believe it is a two person job as the company of another brings on great topics of conversation and moments of learning though i could do it on my own depending on the day and the need. i have that much confidence at this current date.
Thanks for your advice!

I am definitely going to start laying out my plan for moving to my own homestead - it was great to read about the readers that are doing it as a gradual process. I feel like I could do this gradually and not be a failure!!!

you are welcome.

note to self - we all fail

place that word aside and focus on your definitions of success. with every failure are tiny bits of success.

if you learn you succeed
if you listen you succeed
if you plan and practice and practice and practice you will succeed
step slowly - step quietly
believe fiercely

my insights are not perfect but they are from my own experience. everyone is different. how large the salt grain is, i do not know. you decide.

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