Welcome my FIRST-EVER guest post, written and shared by Libby Hanon!
I’m not sure how or when it happened, although I suspect it has something to do with being a mother of 4 children, I have become a talker…a lot. I love talking with my husband, my kids, my friends, or even strangers! A favorite subject is food and some of my favorite people to talk to are visitors to our home! As a virtual guest I welcome you to The Fowl Family Farm where we are raising non genetically modified, hormone free, medication free, free range birds to nourish our bodies.
Driving up our long, tree lined driveway with gravel crunching under your tires you look out onto a specious, green pasture that covers the property like a blanket spread out and tucked under the chin of the large, pillared porch. Chickens scatter as you step out into the hot breeze. Myself, the kids, and the dog excitedly great you and begin the tour. Straight ahead are several coops. The large one houses red, black, yellow, and speckled “Ladies” who are the egg layers. A smaller, green coop holds silver, polka dotted Guinea Keets(baby Guineas) who will soon be set free in order to gobble up ticks and pestilence. Walking down the hill through lush bermuda grass is a large coop and fenced yard holding nearly 60 waddling, fat “Meaties”, Cornish Rock chickens that will soon become dinner’s main course. Mixed in with the Meaties are Muscovy Ducks racing back and forth pecking flies out of the air. Last but not least is a small crate and home to Standard Bronze heirloom turkey poults (baby turkeys) who are being fattened for the holidays still 5 and 6 months away.
I smile, sigh and come up for air after drenching you in a million facts that you may or may not care anything about. Now, here’s the kicker…our journey into raising healthy birds and all around REAL food eating only began several months ago at the beginning of 2012!
For years I was under the assumption that organic food and health food stores were just for people in Seattle or those who are too paranoid. My mind would become defensive and my eyes would glaze over every time someone would talk about all the demons lurking in our 21st century food sources. Honestly, I was (and still am in many ways) tired. I’m tired to having to constantly be on the offensive and constantly having to protect myself and my family from all the evils in this world. How could I possibly have the time and energy to battle against the “Goliath” of food?!
Looking back I can see how Yahweh (God) had begun to put me in situations where I could let down my guard and hear freely about the truths of today’s common and easy food sources (a.k.a. Fast food & mass produced food). I was led to articles, documentaries, and experts. By His grace I was able to process and find truth in the information that much of the “food” we eat isn’t deserving of the title and is, indeed, harming our “temples”. Melissa, of www.realfoodeater.com and a childhood friend, was a large piece to my puzzle. Through Facebook I learned about her passion for REAL food. Also being a wife and mother of small children I believed that if Melissa could radically change her family’s eating than I could, too! During this time, Father’s hand was at work in my husband, Miles’, life as He was bringing Miles to the same conclusions. Now we were united in our thinking and ready to make changes!
I would call this mental battle our “high jump” trial. It has been the largest and most difficult obstacle to overcome in our journey. It took awhile to clear the bar but we made it over. Still amazed that I’m on the other side of the jump, and as the person who purchases and prepares the food for our family, I saw many more hurdles looming in the distance. Thankfully, these trials come one at a time and usually aren’t bunched up together!
Yes, it’s convenient. Yes, it’s cheap. Yes, they have everything you need in one place. No, I’m not crazy for attempting this! I’m so thankful to live in a city that has several good options for grocery shopping other than Wal-Mart. Lucky for me, just since the new year 2 new grocery stores with REAL food selections have opened in my home town! I choose to shop at the smallest market which has come to be a welcome relief from the “big box” stores. I do not allow myself to do big shopping trips to Wal-Mart as I inevitably walk away with bags of junk food I never intended to buy in the first place. The reason: it was there, it looked good, and it was cheap!
Hurdle #2: Buying REAL food is SOOO Expensive:
It’s true, shopping at a small market and buying REAL food, organic food, or local food costs more money – A LOT more! Unfortunately, big box grocery stores has made us believe that food should be cheap, that you should be able to get a lot of food for a small price and that this food is perfectly fine to eat and, quite possibly, healthy. The more we learn, and the longer we raise our own food, the more we realize that most big box foods are not suitable for consumption. Quality food that IS suitable for eating has been painstakingly raised by people who truly care about nutrition and although the price tag is higher – it’s WORTH it! The saying, “You get what you pay for.” couldn’t be more true as applied food.
Our family was accustomed to emptying a 5 lb container of Peter Pan Peanut Butter in less than 2 weeks! Making the transition to organic/local peanut butter was a tough “nut to crack”. It meant getting a 5th of the quantity in tiny weeny jars and paying 5 times as much. After trying it out for several weeks I was amazed to find how long those little jars lasted! We were consuming less of it (a good thing) because we HAD less of it! DUH! As I figure it, we are only paying a small margin more for REAL food than we did for junk food because we consume less.
Hurdle #3: Making Food From Scratch/Traditionally:
I still struggle clearing this hurdle in my kitchen, but outside “Fowl Family Farm” is a testament to our attempts of “making food from scratch” in the purest sense. It was this past February, I was driving home from a trip to the market. My back bumper was dragging from the weight of all the REAL food, while my front tires were struggling to keep contact with the road after emptying the contents of my wallet entirely! I had just reached the outskirts of town and was nearing the country where the wide open spaces positively force a person to smile. This was the 1st time I knew that Father had given us the little 4 acre corner of His creation for such a time as this, and rather than purchasing healthful meat at the market we could raise it in our backyard! Thankfully, when I told Miles my grand idea of becoming a chicken farmer, he didn’t laugh (at least not out loud). He encouraged me in the adventure and only 6 weeks later we received our first batch of chicks. Miles has done all the construction of brooder boxes (where the chicks live for the 1st 3 weeks), pasture coops, and electric fenced yards. I have handled all the day to day care and made the decisions of how, where and when they will fulfill their purpose (a.k.a. be slaughtered).
We are days away from taking our 3rd batch of chickens to their “fulfillment”. We have learned so much since the beginning of the year! Daily, we seek out new information about food and how to raise the most healthy birds for meat and eggs. Now, my “normal” week consists of trying new things that I never dreamed I would even care about (i.e. making my own chicken stock and canning) and continually laughing while asking myself “Who are you?”.
I can’t express my joy and satisfaction when I serve an egg breakfast or chicken dinner to my family knowing that it will truly nourish their “temple”. It’s also an amazing feeling to be able to provide this food for several other families who are dedicated to eating REAL food. I’ve found that when it comes to farming, chicken farmers are fairly low on the totem pole, however, our family proudly claims the title!
The Whole Truth & Nothing But The Truth:
No doubt our family has come a long ways in a short period of time but truthfully:
- I still buy some groceries at Wal-Mart
- We still eat fast food occasionally…er..um…okay, weekly
- We still order Pizza from time to time. (the Cardinal Sin of REAL food eating)
The list could go on but let me encourage both of us: Do what you CAN do! Don’t replace the guilt of eating junky food to the guilt of not doing the REAL food thing perfectly! Take baby steps and, for Pete sakes, HAVE FUN! Search out a local farm and go for a visit. I promise it’ll be a blast and they probably won’t charge for parking! You might even come home with a dozen fresh, free range eggs and a note on your calendar to go back soon! The transition may feel overwhelming!
I pray Yahweh’s blessings and health on you and your family as you learn about food and seek to nourish your Temple!
Libby lives in the outskirts of Oklahoma City with her husband, Miles, and their 4 kids. She is a West Michigan native and a graduate of Asbury College. When she is isn’t busy with the family or chickens does a bit of photography and graphic design.