fleet farm fail

7/20 the chickens

Oh those chickie poo poos are growing by leaps and bounds. This is so excellent, as they are near to their harvest date. In a couple days, we’ll harvest 10 with one customer, and then the remaining 40 the following day. It’s been hard to keep them on clean grass with all this rain. They are inherently lazy birds, which doesn’t help them in staying clean. Kinda of like a big man with a stain on his belly, which he doesn’t notice. Jumbo Cornish Cross chickens’ breasts are so large that they can’t even properly preen their feathers to look good. And their muscle growth is so fast their feathers can’t keep up with their body size. Patches of pink skin are visible near their thighs and the sides of their breasts.

I don’t think these birds are freaks, they have just been bred to grow so efficiently and quickly, they just don’t resemble a “regular” chicken. Our laying breed hens and rooster are nimble, quick footed and literally all over the place all day long. These broiler chickens just eat, and if you don’t bring it to them, they will starve. They don’t understand foraging for sustinance, because this is not a trait their genetics have been selected for. One benefit to all this lounging about is that these birds will have very tender, moist & succulent meat. I think our customers will be very happy with them.

While these little chickie poo poos aren’t athletic, they have been in the sun and the wind and have gotten fresh grass to lay about on. They have had a very good chicken life, where we kept them as safe as we could, sheltered and coddled. I feel good about these birds going to appreciative ovens and deep freezers. If more small scale farms could produce meat for customers, that makes for a few more birds getting to live better lives. This is my idea, and I’m sticking to it. Being a raiser of “compassionate carnivore” meats is a role we’re definitely proud of. It’s just not very common.

Andrew picked up the next installment of baby broiler chicks, babies we’ll raise just like our 8 lb monsters, babies who will grow from ounces to pounds in 8 weeks time. They are little adorable fluff balls right now, and already absolutely

7/21 focus

Without farm meetings each morning, it is impossible to have any focus. The problem we have is there are ten million projects, they are all ongoing, and we want to be working on all of them all the time! When we talk in the morning and record the day’s to-do list, we get on the same page about what we want to work on and what we hope to accomplish. This morning that didn’t happen.

I went out to weed in the field garden after milking. The peppers have open flowers and are getting thick and lush. I noticed the peanut plants are beginning to flower too (how cool is that!) Andrew didn’t know where I was. When I returned home for water and a break from the sun, and he told me he didn’t know where I was or what I was doing. It’s no big deal, but it is kind of frustrating. I reminded him he has done this same thing to me. Nobody’s perfect. We just didn’t have our farm meeting. We got back on track together and tackled the rest of the day. He had worked on the walk-in cooler project, which has been frustrating him and he wants some help, but I didn’t know that. This is why we have to talk and have our farm meetings.

We got some of the insulation panels adhered inside and then had a big discussion about the ducks. Time to get proactive about rotating them more properly. The trouble is some of them can get through the 4×4 openings in our current fencing. We did research together on electric fence options and after getting overwhelmed on that idea, and seeing it would be a huge investment of money we don’t really have, decided to try another route. We know the ducks can’t squeeze through 2×4 inch openeings, so let’s make paddocks out of that, inside the perimeter fence. Perfect. We go on a trip to get materials.

At Fleet Farm, we had a very bad experience. The length of rolls we wanted was 100 ft, and they had two tickets left for this. We bought them both, but had to go pick them up in the lumber yard, since they are big and awkward rolls. Drive around and get helped by two nice guys who seem unable to find the inventory we just bought. 15 minutes later, nothing has turned up. One of them suggests we could get 2 50ft rolls for each 100 footer we bought. I said I don’t know- the shorter rolls are more expensive per foot. He said it would be fine, it was their mistake, and he was sure customer service would fix it. They loaded us up, and I headed in. The lady at the counter said she had to check with a manager for approval, and came back shaking her head. He said no. What? I said does he expect us to go back there and put the fence bac that we just had loaded up by your employees, on their suggestion? I should have demanded to talk to him, but I was so blownaway by such a stupid managerial bullshit decision. I just got the money refunded and went to tell Andrew we were going to take them back. We were both mad and flustered, and we very well could have just taken off with the fence anyhow. Obviously they don’t know what their inventory is already. But we are not thieves. Back went the fencing, all the employees in the yard couldn’t believe it. One told me the name of the manager, another told me their was an 800 number on the web I could call and make my complaint. Apparently nobody likes this manager.

Fuming, I called Fleet Farm when we got home. A lady representative asked if I could email the written experience, which would get into the hands of the regional manager. Sure I will. I love writing. I let them have it. I was so mad! This guy messed up our whole project.

Later Andrew’s permaculture colleague came by with a couple friends. He’s consulting at a farm sort of close to us, and wanted to see our place. I felt totally frazzled after the weird day. Looking at everything going on here, with visitors sometimes makes me feel awkward, nothing is perfect, nothing is going just great…that line of thought. Normally I don’t feel this way, but maybe something about the fact that these guys are all professional looking, in nice clothes and lots of knowledge and experience under their belts? They were certainly not here to judge us, and I know we are doing a good job, the best we can, and that we are still just getting to know our land. But it was a negative Nelly kind of day I guess.

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