Friday, April 9, 2010

The Greenhorns

Just came across this group. If you're a greenhorn young or young at heart, perhaps you should sign up. At least at first glance, or until you get to the ad at the bottom of the national map, it seems a good thing that there's such organization.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Egg Count 4

The egg count for March stands at 259 dozen, or 3,106 eggs. That's an average of 8.35 dozen per day. Feed consumption remained the same, but because of the sheer increase in numbers, the pounds of feed per dozen dropped from 7.18 in February to 6.18 in March, or .515 per egg.

I also wanted to say, in reference to the previous post, that the grain issue is not just confined to poultry. People eat grain too, of course. As far as I'm aware, there is only one farm in the state of Tennessee that is growing local, certified organic, GMO-free grain, which is Windy Acres Farm in Orlinda, TN. I've been up there and talked with those nice folks extensively, and it would be great if we could begin to get their feed. They're going to offer roasted (rather than emulsified) soybeans as well, which provides a marked increase in nutritional quality. But if/when we do, it will take the cost of a dozen eggs to somewhere around $3.00 a dozen! (That's a huge increase, by the way.)

The same goes for organic grain we could have shipped to us. The only place that I'm aware of in the mid-South is Countryside Natural Products in Virginia. If farmers are advertising (certified) organic eggs or meat, then this is pretty much the only place from which they could be getting it. We could get it by the pallet, shipped in by tractor-trailer and shared around the ridge with other farmers, but again, it's a matter of cost. These organic grains, at the ration for laying hens, runs .48 cents per pound. Regular chicken feed - even the worst Co-Op stuff full of byproducts and antibiotics, runs just around .20 cents a pound.

Alternatively, we could get local corn but it's grown using industrial techniques, i.e., synthetic fertilizers and insecticides, and is planted with genetically modified seed. A family-owned mill in Pleasant View grows and can mill this corn, with soybeans (another problem entirely) from elsewhere. But they are entirely uninterested in modifying their cultivation practices to meet this so-called growing local demand.

So not only is it a matter of infrastructure, but of local agrarian sentiment and habit as well.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Locavore Ecology

Here's an article from a recent edition of the NYT on the lack of infrastructure - and specifically small-scale processors - to support the growing local food movement. Indeed, there are no such processors for poultry in Tennessee at all, with the closest being in Bowling Green, Kentucky. And while that's only a few hours drive for us, I do know people that drive 6 and more hours to get their birds federally inspected! Every turn of the tire makes these products less local, and therefore less sustainable, and I'd bet there's evidence to show that in many cases, although pasture-raised poultry is no doubt raised more humanely, it's carbon footprint is much larger than the typical Tyson meat-blobs.

There is also another gigantic hole in this whole system: local - let alone organic - grain. For the month of March, for example, each dozen eggs the Ecotone hens produced took roughly six pounds of grain/feed, which after being driven from Iowa or Nebraska to Edward's Feed in Lebanon, TN, takes another 100 miles round trip of driving for me to retrieve and ensconce in the feed building.