Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Earth Is Stirring...

This will be my first year operating as a CSA with 10 shareholders .  For those who are uninitiated, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  My shareholders basically, "own" a share or piece of my harvest of crops that I grow in my suburban backyard of one acre. Working as partners, they help shoulder the risk, but reap the many benefits of buying into a CSA. More and more people are trying to become more connected and aware of exactly where their food is coming from and how it is grown or raised.  I grow my produce using natural methods.  I don't use any synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. One can look at what I do as growing "soil".When one takes the time to enrich the soil as much as possible this will eliminate many pests and problems before they even have a chance to begin.

In addition to growing crops I will be throwing in a portion of my egg production from my small flock of 9 hens to my CSA members.  Right now I'm averaging about 6 eggs a day.  I'm hoping to add a few more hens in the next few weeks to boost up production a bit.  Unfortunately, I lost 2 hens in the last few month, so I need to make up for that gap. 
My "girls" (Leviticus-White Rock, Paulie Walnuts -Buff Orpington, Kelly Kapur-Araucana, Bertha and Dean-Rhode Island Reds, Alice and Rylee -Barred Rocks, and Fred and George -Isa Browns) live the epitome of chicken life.  During the warmer months they are able to free-range the Fox property (and sometimes the neighbors property when I'm not watching) eating little bugs, and worms and all the vegetation that chickens like to forage for. I supplement their foraging with a feed that adds supplements for laying hens.  Ideally, I eventually would like to have the hens off of commercial feed, but that will be a process as my chicken-raising skills and knowledge increases. This year they will have their own garden of mangels (a member of the beet family) to nibble.   The girls get to scratch around in the dirt, take dust baths, lay their eggs in seclusion and bask in the sunshine doing the things that chickens are meant to do! For this they reward us everyday with a clutch of eggs that range in colors from light pink to blue, to dark brown which are rich in omega 3's and lower in cholesterol than their supermarket counterparts.  The yolks are a deep rich orange and the albumin is highly raised, firm and compact...and the taste is rich and delicious!

My hands are aching to dig in the dirt, but right now I'm making plans and reworking those plans, and ordering seeds and getting ready to start some plants, and making more plans....it's going to be work, but it's going to be so worth it!

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