Tuesday, November 22, 2011

raising broilers

we love having so much life right in our backyard. recently we added a flock of eight chickens to our small plot in a suburban neighborhood. we enjoy studying their unique personalities as they scratch at the dirt & eat fresh kale from our hands.

sometimes i wonder, though, why we do it all. in between the busyness of work & the hustle of life, we also add the daily chores of tending to the garden & feeding our animals. once the chores are finished (for the moment at least), i find refuge in the process of preparing a slow meal from the bounty of our home.

when we chose our flock, we made the decision to add broilers, or meat birds, along with our layers. it can be difficult to raise an animal so intimately & then take it's life so soon after. for our family, the choice to consume meat has been a conscious one. we only purchase ethically-raised meats from nearby farmers & their families. additionally, we believe the responsibility of eating meat includes slaughtering animals, if possible, on our own.

in food & faith, wendell berry is quoted in writing,

"we can [not] live harmlessly or strictly at our own expense; we depend upon other creatures and survive by their deaths. to live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of creation. the point is, when we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament..."

we hope that raising, tending to & taking the life of our chickens will serve as a sacrament. as we feast with friends & family, there is confidence in knowing what's on our table & the sanctity of life this animal lived.


  1. Spoken with true respect for animal life, I appreciate that!! True, when you eat meat, it implies animal slaughtering somewhere in the process, so why not doing the work yourself, thereby fully assessing the value of the life taken and ending it in the best possible way. I understand your way of seeing things and taking responsibility bravely and with dignity.

  2. I admire you for raising your own meat birds. I think more people should know what really goes into getting that chicken breast on the table.

  3. i have been following and gleaning this site for quite some time. thank you for being such a good resource and educator! i am a new(er) gardener and recently received the below email sent to my local community of gardeners. wondering if you have heard anything about this, or at least wanted to make you aware of this. would love to hear your thoughts! ---

    To all my fellow gardeners, farmers, vegetarians, and general lovers of great sources for natural/organic/heirloom veggies that are free from GMO's, here is an important announcement about a major historical player in the seed world!

    Gardener's and lovers of heirloom fruits, vegetables and flowers....PLEASE spread the word! D. Landreth Seed Company will close after over 225 years in existence in the U.S. as the oldest seed company around if it cannot pay off its debt. The owner took over the company, not realizing how much work needed to be done to bring it up to speed. She is an avid gardener. Please help her and buy a catalog and a few seed packs. Landreth houses over 900 non-GMO seeds, including vegetables, trees, flowers, and bulbs. This closing could greatly impact sustainable, heirloom and organic farming. Please buy a catalog and some seeds. Give them as gifts if you yourself cannot grow them, but you will eventually eat veggies originating from this seed house.

    Many thanks for spreading the word! Here is a link from which you can order a catalog for 2012.


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  5. I am almost finished with Tamar Adler's cookbook, An Everlasting Meal and she has a chapter entitled How to Be Tender in which she beautifully addresses the act of being tender in raising and consuming meat. Your words remind me of hers.

    "In the end, we can only guess at unknowable truths about the morality of domestication. We love tenderly and well, when we remember to. We must treat what we love kindly. We must make the most of it. The more we do, the closer we come to the old terms of meat eating, a noble exchange of good life for good life."

  6. I have really enjoyed your posts and wonder if you plan to continue them in 2012. Thank you so much, each of you.

  7. oh natalie. what a tender soul you are.
    i struggle with the concept/ act of meat eating constantly. it can be so easy to look at a cleanly packaged piece of meat from the grocery store and haven't the slightest care or idea of what really goes on behind the pretty package.
    i don't eat meat, but i respect your decision and process immensely. if only more americans were like you. xo, friend.