Sunday, December 26, 2010

Having Chickens Really Makes You Think...

...about food consumption in an entirely new light. Like so many folks out there today, we got chickens as part of an ideal: living more sustainably than we have been. Raising chickens, as part of that scenario, is one of our first steps toward that ideal. We planned to raise healthy happy chickens, consume their eggs, gift or sell what we do not need, and use their poop to feed our garden.

So far so good, or more like, so far, so great. But we haven't gotten to the part where we need to cull the flock to make room for new layers. Hopefully we'll get right with that process when the time comes. Meanwhile, however, these little ladies have really made me think hard about the volume of meat I consume. When our flock consisted of 11 hens, I calculated how far their meat would last to feed our family. Simply put, not all that long. There is almost always some kind of meat, albeit it locally and organically raised, in one of our daily meals.  So the dialog began: how long could we really make 11 hens last after they were processed and in our freezer? First off, meat would have to NOT be the main course so it's "table life" was extended. At the end of the spectrum there is always chicken soup, but in between, the meals should be primarily vegetable based, with a little chicken sprinkled in for good measure. After all, there is much less in the way of energy and overall resources expended in raising vegetables, just for starters. Then there is the health factor; meat is good, but in smaller portions than mainstream America ingests it. If we're really conscious of our eating habits, we could likely get 5 or even 6 meals from one hen. So stretching that out, maybe sandwiching in a day of vegetarianism in there somewhere, we'd get a week of sustenance from one chicken. With 11 hens, that's a whopping total of under 3 months. I really wonder if we could do it?

I found this poster on-line this morning. It reflects these latest musings. It's got design roots in the revolutionary style of the '30s social movement and the message itself speaks directly to the social revolution of our time: grow your own, do it organically. And for me, the subtext is: eat less meat! If you want one of your very own, follow this link to the Portland artist's Etsy Store:

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