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 Post subject: I'm a chicken farmer now..
PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 11:19 am 
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Attended Chelsea Clinton's Wedding
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I haven't posted in a long time, just thought I'd write real quick to reaffirm my love for everyone here and give a quick update. I've often been on the lurkier side of things so if you don't know me then it's nice to meet you!
I've been working and living on a farm in Watsonville, CA since January which has definitely been a big change. It's called Live Earth Farm and is a really cool place, with a huge CSA (700+ members), lots of wild space and hiking trails, cool dogs (a Maremma and a bunch of little chihuahua types), cats, goats, chickens, wild turkeys, skunks, owls, poison oak, all kinds of fun stuff. I'm living in a yurt here, it is pretty forking sweet.
I work half the week for the educational program; helping to maintain the garden, work with kids, and do other random stuff. The other half of the week I work for the farm doing some farmers markets and random stuff, but mostly I take care of 500 hens everyday. They are in 2 flocks, 1 in a coop and another in a mobile trailer. They are all pasture-raised and moved around to fresh tall grass every couple weeks. Definitely kind of an intense job for a vegan but I am finding some joy in it too, despite the cognitive dissonance. I collect about 300 eggs every morning, super weird!
Anyways, anyone in the area should come out to visit me sometime! The farm is very community-oriented, we will be having U-picks every weekend and larger events the last weekend of every month. I've got some hard cider brewing that I'm planning to bust out for our solstice party if that may encourage any of you to cruise by..


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 Post subject: Re: I'm a chicken farmer now..
PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:12 pm 
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Dying from Nooch Lung
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Kind of an odd thing for a vegan to be a part of, but at least it sounds like you're having a good time. Just don't become one of those vegan turned butcher / slaughterer that NPR seems loves covering.

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 Post subject: Re: I'm a chicken farmer now..
PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:21 pm 
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Does the farm have any slaughtering, or is it just eggs/milk?

I sometimes fantasize about working on a farm so I get the appeal, but yeah also, as a vegan, ugh what a can of wormies.

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 Post subject: Re: I'm a chicken farmer now..
PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:25 pm 
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Mars wrote:
can of wormies.


NOT VEGAN

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 Post subject: Re: I'm a chicken farmer now..
PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:30 pm 
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solipsistnation wrote:
Mars wrote:
can of wormies.


NOT VEGAN


you have to supply your own can:
http://www.surfsweets.com/products_sourworms.php

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 Post subject: Re: I'm a chicken farmer now..
PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:33 pm 
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Actually I'd prefer gagh.

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 Post subject: Re: I'm a chicken farmer now..
PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:15 pm 
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alden wrote:
solipsistnation wrote:
Mars wrote:
can of wormies.


NOT VEGAN


you have to supply your own can:
http://www.surfsweets.com/products_sourworms.php

Yeah, but then you have to buy the can separately. I've actually tried these before and can vouch for their deliciousness. And I don't even like candy.

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 Post subject: Re: I'm a chicken farmer now..
PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:16 pm 
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Mars wrote:
Actually I'd prefer gagh.


+1 yu...(*dies*)

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 Post subject: Re: I'm a chicken farmer now..
PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 3:34 pm 
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solipsistnation wrote:
Mars wrote:
can of wormies.


NOT VEGAN


No kidding! I was thinking the same about the [url="http://forum.theppk.com/viewtopic.php?f=49&t=18606"]vermicompost thread[/url].. They want a vermicomposting thing for the garden here and I keep putting it off.

But yeah it is very weird. I was unemployed for about two months at the end of last year. After not getting hired as a produce guy at Whole Foods I resigned myself to apply to other non-vegan positions there (specifically the Specialty Team (wine, beer, cheese, etc.)). I certainly wouldn't want to have to work in the butchery, seafood, deli, or cafeteria parts but I decided if I had to taste a little cheese as a part of work every once in awhile it wouldn't be the end of the world, especially to get my foot in the door somewhere that offered health insurance and benefits. In other words I was having trouble finding work so had accepted I might have to make vegan compromises in order to get employed.

I studied Sustainable Ag in school so was also motivated to find employment on a farm, but especially a small CSA-oriented and nature-friendly type. There was no appeal to me to look for work at any large-scale farm though I was sending out applications to all kinds of different places. When I found this job-listing I was very excited. I don't believe it mentioned caring for chickens though it did mention caring for goats. I found out about the chickens at the first job interview, though not the full extent I would be caring for them.

My employers know about my veganism, and know about my issues with caring for the chickens. I obviously was attracted to the farm because of all the produce, but also the idea of working for a place that fulfills such an obvious need for humanity while striving to maintain a balance with nature was extremely appealing. These chickens are certainly relatively very happy compared to any non-pasture raised hens, though happiness in animals who wouldn't know any difference is obviously a complicated issue. At this farm they really make a huge effort to let the chickens live in a healthy and "natural" environment, again all complicated issues. I don't think I would be able to do this kind of job at a farm that had any lower standards for animal welfare, though it is indeed very sad here as well as there are sometimes sicknesses and death, and an entire flock is culled after 3 years because they are no longer productive enough to be profitable.

So I am in no means defending this practice as ultimately I find it unethical, though I bet there are plenty of sound and logical arguments for both sides. Hopefully I will be able to put my energy into other parts of the farm in the future. I really enjoy working farmers markets, am going to start doing some delivery driving, and will hopefully get to spend more and more time in the fields. Eventually I hope to pass the chicken duties to the next person that gets hired, I'm guessing in a year or so. I've expressed this intent to my employer and am optimistic it can happen. Overall they are extrememly open-minded, tolerant, and sensitive people who are extremely community-oriented. I believe I am very lucky to have found a niche here and decided that making some compromises was worth it, especially because I needed a job so badly. But yes, definitely tough decisions!

Mars wrote:
Does the farm have any slaughtering, or is it just eggs/milk?


There is some slaughtering done on the farm for personal use by a few employees that live here with their families, but it is very minimal and I am not involved. The saddest part is the culling (ugh, stupid word!) of the chickens.. I don't know what is done with them exactly and I don't plan on helping with that either. It's nice at least the farmer seems pretty accepting of the fact that many aspects of the work are emotionally tough for me, and admits that he finds some of it difficult himself. Life and death is heavy for everyone!


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 Post subject: Re: I'm a chicken farmer now..
PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:56 pm 
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Roger!!! Nice to hear from you. Do you ever go to the Wednesday market? We gotta have a meetup one of these days! Our little sc ppk group has been slacking off!

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 Post subject: Re: I'm a chicken farmer now..
PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 9:58 pm 
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I haven't worked at the downtown market yet, but I'll be at the Scotts Valley market on Saturday if you want to swing by and say hi!
Count me in for a meetup too!


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 Post subject: Re: I'm a chicken farmer now..
PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 10:04 pm 
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Hey dude, glad to hear you're doing well! I was just wondering how you were the other day, wondering if you'd found a place to live, etc.

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 Post subject: Re: I'm a chicken farmer now..
PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 12:21 am 
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I think your job (and your yurt) sounds awesome.


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 Post subject: Re: I'm a chicken farmer now..
PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 8:46 am 
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Thanks! Yeah I think so too, though hopefully it will keep getting better.
Sorry if the thread title is a little inflammatory, honestly wasn't trying to start an argument or anything but just give a little update.
It is great to hear everyone's reactions though, I know things can get complicated with sustainability, etc.. Don't worry, I'm still all about teh veganism!


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