Sunday, April 29, 2012

Earth Day!

If you didn't hear from me for a couple of weeks in April, it is because I became consumed with our Earth Day project.  We decided as a family we would take on our first event as the Giving Tree Family Farm.  We sat down a couple of weeks ago and mapped out our booth.  Each member of the family had a huge "to do" list.  The first order of business was a logo.  My dad got to work with his favorite graphic designer and came up with this great logo.  Deciding on a name and logo were the most difficult tasks!
My sister came up with the design of the booth.  She had visions of white lace, antique plates to display the soap, and old books and boxes for props.  My mom spent a week putting all of our alpaca yarn into skeins and we designed posters and informational cards.  It truly was shaping up to be a family affair!  We all arrived to El Chorro Regional Park early on Earth Day.  Here is a picture of our completed booth.  We all loved the way it turned out.

Our booth was divided into four sections.  My sister makes jewelry and made special bee pieces for Earth Day.

Glenn and I were the bee experts.  We sold beeswax bars, candles and lip balm.  Glenn got some people seriously excited about keeping bees.  I loved showing off the bear claw marks in our beeswax.  

My mom was the "goat lady."  She spent hours talking to people about raising goats and all of the benefits of goat milk.  

The last section was the alpaca yarn display.  People loved the pictures of Mic, Pablo and Remy next to their skeins of yarn.  

Earth day was a great trial run for our young business.  The kids enjoyed their day in the sun: dancing, planting herbs, and making paw prints out of plaster.  The adults spent the day talking about our hobbies, hanging out with fellow Earth-loving friends, and sipping wine.  It may not have been the most profitable day, but it was a good day. 

A special thank you to Mother Earth for making it all possible!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Chicken Rescue

If you haven't heard about the 50,000 hens who were abandoned and perished from starvation in an egg factory in Turlock, California, please watch this video.

Over 4,000 hens were saved in a most spectacular rescue effort.  Six of those lucky girls now reside on our farm.  When I heard a local rescue group would be bringing 125 of these hens to San Luis Obispo county to retire, I jumped at the chance to adopt them.  The hens were stabilized for three weeks, then brought to our  farm when they were out of danger.

Four of the hens moved to our side of the property and two of the hens retired to my mom's coop on the other side of the property.  These hens have lived lives filled with neglect and abuse.  As chicks, the hens have the tips of their beaks cut off.  This is so they will not peck the other three to five hens with whom they share a small cage.  Leghorn chickens lay around 300 white eggs a year, which is why they are usually chosen for mass egg production.  They live all of their lives in cages, never having the chance to scratch the earth or chase a bug.  You can see how long the hen's nails have gotten because she has never been able to scratch in the dirt.

We moved the girls in with the quail at first so the other hens could meet them without being able to hurt them.  The hens each laid an egg the first day they moved in.  It amazed me these hens were on the brink of death and are already laying eggs.

Pearl collected the first batch of eggs.  She was proud of the chickens!

The hens have integrated with the rest of our flock and are living the lives of queens.  It is interesting to watch their behavior.  At first they would only lay their eggs on the ground.  Now two of the hens have learned how to use the nesting area.  They won't roost up with the rest of the chickens, rather they nest on the ground in the corner.  They love to make little nests, scratch around and stretch their wings.  To say I adore these girls in an understatement.  They have become more brazen over the past few weeks.  When all of the chickens free range, they carefully sneak out of the hen house and scratch around the door.  They bask in the sunlight.

Pearl and Oliver love feeding them scratch.  

I was feeling slightly smug at first about how I don't buy eggs from the store.  Pearl and I went out to breakfast the next morning and I ordered huevos rancheros.  After devouring my eggs, it dawned on me I had no idea if I was eating factory farmed eggs.  I asked the server who told me they were from the local university.  I know chickens are not free-ranging at the university.  I have decided to try and stop eating eggs if I can't tell where they are laid.  Would it be rude of me to bring my own eggs into a restaurant?  I may have to turn into these people:

If you want to help one of these chickens you can sponsor an animal at Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary or give up eating factory-farmed eggs!