A very meaty subject

We are watching with anticipation the plight of farmers across our nation.

We see scenes of dairy farmers having to toss out millions of gallons of milk because the demand is not there, people are concerned there will not be enough meat for people to eat because of outbreaks of the COVID-19 virus at meat processing plants, the concerns go on and on.

That being said, I’ve also noticed people in our small community have stepped forward as much as they can to purchase their needed foods from our community’s local farms. I’ve also noticed gardens are popping up where they may not have before and the sale and demand to own chickens is astronomical. People are realizing they need to return to a time where we grew our own food or depended on the local farm to provide the needed daily sustenance.

As many of you know, I’ve had egg laying chickens for more than five years now, and I think of the countless number of eggs these birds have provided to me and to those who have purchased from me over the years. I’ve enjoyed gathering the eggs each day, and the thought of someday being brave enough to raise chickens for meat just seemed a foreign and scary thing.

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All of that changed this week on Wednesday when a box of 50 peeping Cornish Cross chicks arrived at our local post office.

These chicks were ordered far in advance of the pandemic, so I had no problem with supply at the hatchery, and I split the cost with a friend who also wanted to raise meat birds (insider tip, it’s cheaper (cheeper? lol)) to purchase in larger amounts.

I’ve never ordered that many chicks at one time, so the noise on the way home was crazy loud as the chicks were chirping. Chicks can survive after hatching for a max of three days with no food or water, but after that amount of time, they really start complaining. A strange side effect is I literally feel pain when I hear their distressed chirps. I can’t explain it except to say it must be like a human mother hearing her child cry when it is hungry, etc.

I arrived home with my share of the chicks (20 to be exact with an extra two tossed in by the hatchery to make sure I received what I ordered alive), set up their brooder with heat lamp, water and food and gently removed them from their shipping box into their new home for the next couple of weeks.

I’m happy to say they instantly calmed their loud chirping and immediately noticed the food and water. The noise was reduced to gentle purring (yes, chickens purr) and soft contented peeps.

The birds are adorable right now, little portly fluffy yellow bodies, and the thought of turning them into meat in eight short weeks seems a bit terrifying, but I also know the meat from a local farmer or the store has to come from somewhere. I also understand these birds will quickly grow from cute and fluffy to smelly and feathery.

As our environment changes with the search for sources of meat and other produce, I encourage all of us to consider raising our own food or searching out one of the many farms in our community that sells all different types of meat and produce. We are in the heart of melon country, after all. Stay well, my friends.

Stephanie Strothmann owns Purple Shamrock Farm LLC in rural Seymour. Read her blog at whattheclucker.blogspot.com. Send comments to [email protected].