It has been a busy couple of weeks for the farm girls. The garden is getting going and last week we started a bunch of pickling cucs in the green house over at Pheasant Field Farm. Thanks to Farmer Nikki for sharing a bit of space with us! In addition to the plants we have started we are raising some chickens at both my place and Shannon’s. A couple of my birds were ready for processing and I had been putting it off! So, yesterday Shannon came over and helped me butcher the four chickens that were ready to go. There are another 40 in the chicken tractors that will be ready some time next week and she will also help with those! That is a true friend!
Yesterday we butchered Old School without the plucker and scalder. Hand plucking birds is not my idea of fun and it takes much longer than if you have processing equipment. The four birds we processed today took about an hour … and as a point of comparison working with a crew of 5 or 6 people at Abundantly Green Organic Farm last week we did 45 birds in an hour once we got rolling. Typically I rent the equipment from the Kitsap Poultry Growers Cooperative, but for smaller batches it isn’t really worth it – though I was rethinking that yesterday!
Sharing labor and helping each other is a long-time tradition in farming communities. Barn raisings, threshing bees, making hay. As a child I remember my father sharing labor with four other farmers to make hay and silage. Each farmer had a tractor and separate pieces of the machinery necessary to harvest the crops – but none of them had ALL the equipment. This type of cooperation allowed them all to save money on expensive equipment. However, it was a long relationship based upon trust and mutual respect. A while back I was talking to someone about the process of borrowing a piece of equipment from a Kitsap farmer. I had asked the wife if she thought it would be okay but my husband had to go over and make the deal and demonstrate he was capable of using the equipment. When someone commented about how sexist and old-fashioned that sort of negotiation was I pointed out that for some farmers they would rather let you borrow their wife than lend you their tractor!
I value the relationships I have with other farmer friends. They are a resource when I have questions, they share their time and talents freely, and they will even help take care of your animals so you can go on a vacation in the off-season! Here are some shots of the good folks over at Abundantly Green last week!
At the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence Benjamin Franklin said: “We must hang together or assuredly we will hang separately!” and while he was alluding to the threat of charges of treason from the crown, I think about this statement often when working with other farmers. We need to hang together so that we all succeed in this challenging business! And frankly, farmers are really fun people to hang with, even when you are processing chickens!