Isn’t it easier to buy from the store?

I am often asked, “Why do you do it? Why do you raise animals and grow food when it is so much easier to buy it from the store?”

The short answer: “Because I want to.”

Let me explain some main focus points because the real reason is a multifaceted one.

The CONNECTION:

I think most of the “general” population has lost touch with or where their food comes from. I believe the general population has a decent idea of where and how — at least if they are not blind. The steak, bacon, chicken wings and fish fillets in the grocery store were all a living creature at one point in time. I can’t guarantee that it lived a happy life or that it was humanely harvested–but I can guarantee that it was a life.

19657126_10159107914705438_4396804553471347142_n
Touching up the broilers we harvested.

By “connection”, I speak in terms of watching my food grow from the very beginning stages to the very end– pats on the head, feedings, making sure the sun always shines for them…making sure the animal is healthy…thanking each and every chicken, duck, and turkey for the life they gave to nourish the lives of my family and I. It means making a connection and forming a trusting relationship with the local farmer who raised our beef or pork. This is also true for vegetables. Planting the seeds and watching it grow and produce fruit, until the day the frost ultimately cuts its life supply.

20429638_10159262783510438_3366457468899699001_n
Chatting with a rooster.

I think it is extremely important to teach our young the circle of life when it comes to our food — that connection is a powerful one — and I believe that they will have a greater respect for all living creatures once they respect and understand that circle. I think the mass over-producing commercialization of food production has us all out of touch. I also believe that the true farmers who are passionate about the real connection with his or her consumers falls through the cracks and does not recieve the recognition he or she deserves.

I know WHAT’S in my food and HOW it is treated and how it LIVED its life:

I have been told I am an old soul — or that I am just like my Grandma Hall (I take that as a compliment, by the way). My Grandma Hall canned a lot, too. I remember being a little girl and most Saturday afternoons in the fall were filled with my Mom and Grandma blanching tomatoes and stuffing them into jars. I remember the jiggling of the canner as if it were yesterday.

I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE canning and preserving. Yes, it is a LOT of work – and I mean and EPIC ton of work. We can salsa, tomatoes (stewed, diced), tomato sauces (pasta, plain, pizza), fruit (peaches, apples, apple sauce, apple cider, jams), pickled veggies (banana peppers, jalapenos, pickles). By canning these products, we avoid chemicals, not only because we grow organic, but we don’t use preservatives, unnecessary sugars (did you know most companies add sugar to their products to get you addicted to them and did you know that sugar causes a reaction to more receptors in your brain than cocaine does?)…we also avoid nasty colorants, synthetic flavorings (often labeled as “natural flavors”), soy, and hydrogenated oils.

21015866_10159375544890438_8621595680615946496_o
Stewed tomatoes, canned and ready for the pantry. The tomatoes on the far left are from a tomato called “Pink Berkely Tie-dye” and are darker in color.

Everything is grown on our small farm (for the most part!) or grown by a trusted source. Every ingredient passes through my fingers and into the pot. This year’s applesauce and apple cider were made from the apples we picked from a neighbor’s house or from our favorite apple tree alongside the road (picked with permission). The twenty some quarts of chicken broth that I canned was made using the roasted carcasses of chickens we had harvested this fall. It makes for some divine soup.

21318911_10159439199835438_2685027533246750163_o
Making chicken broth using the carcasses from our own homegrown chickens.
FB_IMG_1523462282412
Homemade dill pickle spears.
21371339_10159452803655438_4068006273733331446_n
One side of our basement full of canned goods
21557733_10159452803560438_6748348279189805963_n.jpg
The bottom shelf is all salsa–one of our favorite things to eat and can!

As for knowing how my food is treated and how it has lived — this goes back to having a connection with your food or farmer. We don’t always have animals born at our farm – some years we do let a hen hatch a clutch of eggs or we incubate some in the house ourselves. We know that the eggs that we eat and sell come from happy and healthy hens. Sometimes we order our broiler chicks from a reputable breeder and they come by special delivery. We know from the day they arrive here until the day they are harvested, their life was not in vain and we made sure each step they took was a happy one. While we do not currently raise any animal other than poultry for consumption, I can attest for those farmers that I know quite well, that do. Every day of every year, no matter the weather, no matter the holiday, their livestock is fed and cared for above and before the farmer’s own needs.

FULFILLMENT

My work never seems to be done — between running my own business, the farm (which is essentially another business), homeschooling and caring for a soon-to-be four year old, and maintaining a household — I am pulled in many different directions day in and day out. Many ask where my fulfillment lies — and I answer “within it all”. The simple fact that I provide for my family in more ways than one is my fulfillment. My heart sings with joy when I walk into the house with a basket full of eggs, or when I pull a roasted chicken out of the oven — knowing that we raised and harvested it ourselves.

The pride I feel within myself for giving our daughter a life full of wonder and curiosity

28377916_10160190725130438_9061113807167664928_n.jpg
Holding a worm she found while digging.

while teaching her respect for animals and how to care for them by watching us do so, is overwhelming. It saddens me to no end that most households do not have the means or the patience to raise a few hens for their own fresh eggs (at one point in time, the government suggested that every household raised their own). The joy and excitement on our daughter’s face as she collects eggs is priceless and the notion that I can give her that — IS my fulfillment.

At the end of the day when I finally sit down on the couch to attempt to catch up on the latest book I am reading, or a recorded TV show, I smile inside. My animals are taken care of, I’ve made meals using ingredients that we have grown, I’ve contributed to the finances (in more ways than just my Etsy Shop — I believe that cooking at home with wholesome ingredients and providing milk, eggs, meat, and canned goods saves us money overall), and I have a happy husband and a thriving daughter.

IT IS IN MY DNA

Ever since I can remember, I found myself longing for a life with animals. I mean, I have had pets– dogs, cats, fish, reptiles, birds, etc. While they showed me love and I loved them in return, I still felt like I needed something more. I begged and begged for a pony or horse, and to no avail– I remained horseless. I see that as a positive now — horses are a TON of work, plus I have friends and neighbors with horses to quench any thirst I may have for horses.

I joined the FFA Chapter at my high school when I was a freshman and remained a very active member until graduation. It was there that my fire was fueled. We studied breeds and different species of livestock. We raised broiler chickens and watched sows give birth to piglets.

Fast forward about 10 years after graduation, I learned that on my Dad’s side of the family tree, I had a great uncle who was a farmer in Tulare, California after moving there from Mancelona, Michigan. He raised a pair of white mules, Nip and Tuck and raised hundreds of chickens for eggs and meat.

received_10160392721850438
My Great Uncle, Charles Augustus Davis, with his pair of mules, Nip and Tuck.
received_10160392721840438
Charles at his Chicken Farm in Tulare, California

On my mother’s side of the family, my grandma’s parents raised chickens and turkeys for the local grocery store in Mesick, Michigan. I met some long lost family members on my Mom’s side of the family about a year ago, and learned that there was dairy farming in their family. My new cousins raise pigs for show and meat (some VERY beautiful pigs!).

I feel, now that I am a grown woman–an adult with ambition, I can fill that missing piece in my life–I was meant to do this. And while it does not com easy most days (I’ve dropped an entire basket of eggs, lost a whole quart of milk, watched baby chicks die from who knows what, buried goats, and been pooped on) this is my life and I don’t aim to change it in the near future.

26904006_10160004020620438_8918799107571006897_n

2 Comments on “Isn’t it easier to buy from the store?

  1. Thank you Jasmine. We really need to get back to basics. All our food now is full of sugar, phosphates, antifreeze in our pet food. The list is endless. Our food is full of carcinogens that are killing us. I would love to see us barter for fresh meat, vegetables and fruit. If people can’t afford to buy, there’s always a way. We could offer free labor on the farms in return for items.
    Thank you again for all your efforts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are absolutely right, Linda! Not to mention fire retardants as well (brominated vegetable oil) in drinks marketed to children and athletes. It is disgusting what our country deems as edible–you won’t see them listed in other countries at all. They are forbidden .

      I have toyed with the idea of a CSA, and one of the ways to cut costs for customers was to exchange labor for produce. When the farrier comes to trim my goats hooves, I trade canned goods and eggs and sometimes soap. We trade mechanic labor for firewood to heat our home as well. Bartering is good and it makes people feel good that they can trade their skills for the skills of others !

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: