Hi friends!! It's your favorite day of the week #tuckertuesday and boy do I have stories for you!
First off I know mama told you we got more goats but she didn't tell you the bestest parts. They wouldn't let me outside to help so I had to yell instructions out the window so I did that but I don't think they listened much because daddy got the first lady goat out of the truck and she (mama says her name is Penelope but she calls her Nellie-B) walked right up the hill with one of my leashes and at first I thought maybe she was really a puppy but then she ate a whole bunch of grass and I only eat a little grass so NOPE she's a goat! Daddy walked with her to the gate and mama got the next goat out of the truck.
Callie (that's her with the messy freckled face) didn't want to pretend to be a dog so she kicked and jumped and mama musta thought she might hurt herself so she let her go but that didn't go so good because next thing I knew she was running down the hill across the yard and kicking and jumping the whole way with mama running hot on her heels! I yelled for them to let me out because I run zoomy fast and I could catch her no problem I just knew it but mama kept running like maybe she didn't hear me. She said she ran all the way down to the shooty range, around daddy's wood shop, down the creek bank and then back up the big driveway where daddy jumped out from behind the shed and BAM wrangled her (Callie, not mama) right down just like a rodeo cowboy. I didn't even know he could do that!!
Last weekend they got the doors all on the new barn which is good because WHEW if they run that fast they'll need big doors for these goats!!
Then yesterday, my daddy the Professional Goat Wrangler rode the 4 wheeler right up the big hill behind the house to cut down a tree and he didn't come back for a really long time. Then when mama got home from the store they got grandpa's tractor and went back up the hill because apparently the really big hill behind the house has a hole on it and daddy flipped that 4 wheeler right over!! Mama said it was a good thing he was ok and a gooder thing the 4 wheeler was ok so she didn't have to kill him which didn't make a lot of sense why she would do that when she was glad he was ok but prolly it's a growd up thing and I wouldn't unnerstand.
So it's been a really busy week, even Colt needed a quiet nap on the deck. He and Ruger brought mama a bunch of mice and moles and daddy said they even got a chipmunk and mama says that's what we're paying them for!
Ok I gotta go to bed. Daddy has a new job that he really really likes but WOW does he have to get up early for it. He goes to bed almost before the chickens now!! Hope you have a good week, see you next time!
At a recent farmers market another purveyor of eggs regaled me with a story about a customer who refused to buy his eggs because he refused to guarantee her they were “free range”. The reason for his reluctance is simple; unless a chicken farmer is willing to submit to regular inspections and certifications (you should read that “willing to PAY FOR inspections”) we are discouraged from using labels such as “free range”, “cage free”, or “farm fresh”.
Knowing that we both raise flocks that are significantly healthier and more coddled than those laying the eggs you’ll find in supermarkets we chuckled at her insistence in the matter, but it reminded me that most consumers haven’t taken the time to learn what those labels mean, from a regulatory standpoint. So here’s a quick run down of what you’re asking for when you demand free-range eggs.
In order to make these claims, the egg producer should be able to show the following:
Birds are uncaged inside barns but MAY BE KEPT INDOORS all the time – no yard play required
Birds must be able to nest, perch and dust-bathe
Suppliers must follow regulations for stocking density, perch numbers and nesting boxes
Birds must have access to an outdoor area for at least six hours each day (you know, like recess)
Each hen must have at least 2 square feet (TWO FEET!!!) of outdoor space. Not much room for social distancing!
The outdoor space doesn’t need to have any living vegetation (A mud pit, rock quarry, cement pad - all fine!)
No specific designation, but frankly fresh is fresh and nearly all producers are classified as a “farm”
If you don’t have chickens you might not realize that chickens are NOT vegetarians. Our chickens have been known to help us with our rodent problem, eradicate bugs in the garden, and they are ferocious about the protein rich food scraps we offer them on a regular basis (yes… our chickens like steak!).
Um, what?? You mean as opposed to plastic Easter eggs? Yes… yes our chicken eggs are “natural”
Except for “certified organic,” the U.S. government does not set definitions or requirements for egg carton labels, but producers may still be under scrutiny for using any labeling that suggests a certain lifestyle for their birds. Bear in mind, most commercial producers, out of logistical necessity, keep their laying hens in either a permanent stacked cage environment (multiple layers of cages staged above a “chute” that collects eggs as they lay) or in an open barn with access to nest areas.
Some producers remove parts of hens’ beaks in the first few days of life in an effort to reduce the amount that pecking that will happen when that many birds are housed together in confined spaces. Some starve their birds to force molting (loss of feathers) to manipulate the laying cycle. And virtually all commercial operations are supplied by hatcheries that kill male chicks shortly after hatching, since they don't lay eggs and aren't bred to grow as large or as rapidly as chickens used in the meat industry.
We don’t have a problem with commercial eggs. We ate them for a lot of years and understand the logistics of a large scale ANYTHING farm. We just happen to be fortunate enough to have the space to raise our own hens, eat our own hens’ eggs, and control the space in which our chickens thrive.
So if you’re interested, here’s what you might expect a day to be like as a chicken at Toby Way Farm:
Wake up early because all three of the protective roosters in your flock are crowing long before sun up.
Rush the door when the chicken lady opens it because you can’t wait to see what bugs are hiding in the soft grass. Also because she probably has a bucket of cracked corn in her hand.
Spend the day running around the homestead, protected by the flock roosters and livestock guard dogs, scratching for food the way chickens are supposed to. Stop in at the coop once in a while for a quick bite of well stocked chicken grain, maybe lay an egg while there, and enjoy the afternoon under a shade tree.
Return to the coop about dusk with all your friends, settle in on a spacious roost bar, and know you’ll get to do it all again tomorrow.
Take the winter off from laying eggs. No one hangs artificial light or manipulates your hormones to coerce you to work when nature says you should be resting.
All of that might not make our chickens better than commercial chickens. It might not mean our eggs are tastier than their eggs. Maybe our chickens aren’t really happier than commercially raised laying hens.
Then again, it just might. We’ll let you be the judges.
See you at the market!
Bet you thought I forgot it was Tuesday but I didn't and I can't stay long because daddy said we have to start going to bed early because he got a different job and pretty soon he'll have to get up to drink his coffees in the middle of the night because he has to start work REALLY early and I think that's ok because he said he'll be home earlier to play with me and that's great!!
Mama let me take some pics of her garden because things are really getting interesting there. She said that pretty yellow flower is going to help her make pickles and she just started picking pickles out of the garden and I don't know how many pecks of pickles she can pick out of the pickle patch but a puppy could get pretty petered out on pickles in a pinch!!
The potatoes are blooming too and mama was excited about that. I about got lost in that mess but it's nothing compared to the "zookini" that live beside them! Golly, that's like a small rain forest under there!!
Oh I had mama take a pic of me and she acts like all I do is eat but the thing is I really like it when she makes eggs and veggies for breakfast so I have to stay close so I can get some snacks!
In other news, the goat barn is getting really close to being finished, at least on the outside and I guess it must be ok on the inside too because the baby goats and puppy girls have been sleeping up there in it since daddy got the roof on it. I guess since it's been raining a lot, the goats probably want to stay in there all the time now. Bambi told me goats really don't like rain and I said that was silly because it just dries but he said it's like acid or something so they all run to the house when it rains. I think goats are kinda silly...
Mama brought home this really old book she said she'll probably never use because it might fall apart and I don't know what's so neat about a book you can't use but she said it's really old and I should tell you about it - so, there it is. I told you about it!
All the rain made us a pretty rainbow tho so I took a picture to show you all one of the great big ones I saw. It was like WHOA all the way across the sky and I could see both ends of it so good I figured there had to be a leprechaun under there somewhere but mama says those are just make believe and the real treasure is with the one who gave us the rainbow . I think she's right about that, but a leprechaun would still be cool to have on the farm.
Welp, gotta head to bed so daddy can sleep. Hopefully I don't have to get up so early with him, I really like sleeping in a lot so maybe he can just be quiet when he makes his coffees.
Hope you all have a great week!!
Tucker (pomeranian) is an author of marginal famou'nicity. Catch his Tucker Tuesday farm pupdates here and on the Toby Way Farm facebook page.