March 8, 2008

In spring I get lots of letters and DVD orders

This week I've gotten two great letters. The first is from Stuart who is starting down the road to food independence!

Hi Allison,

I found your video via a web search and link on the "pathtofreedom" web page.  Ironically I'm a total city kid right down to working in factories and the electronics industry. As of late I've been considering more and more about the concept of Urban Homesteading. How the world really operates not just how it appears from my vantage point. Food does not come from cans or freezers, it's grown and raised.  Still not sure if I'm ready to make any major lifestyle changes but I'd at least like to see and know more about alternatives.  Who knows, maybe it's just a mid-life crisis in disguise. I figure an interest in chickens has to be a lot safer than a sports cars, flying lessons, and attempting to go sky with college aged kids half my age HA HA.

Also having a four year old son makes me see the world differently, especially as an older parent. I waited until I was 44 before becoming a father so I also find my self as a teacher to my son. He of course wants to know everything about everything. Obviously as you can tell I don't rush into anything so like parenthood I might just read about chickens for a decade or so before doing anything

On a side note my grandfather used to have a pair of chickens as pets. I never meet him as he passed before I was born. Some of the stories I hear about him in my childhood seemed a bit far fetched. Especially chickens with personality but as I am now learning the stories were not just myths and jokes. Chickens really do have personality and I actually have seen a few chickens calmly sitting in the lap of their owner just as any cat or small dog would do. So life is funny in a lot of ways.

Looking forward to seeing your video even if only to learn and not do but who knows, I might just end up doing !
Thank you,


We grow most of our own food here, have for 30 years, no matter where we lived. Congrats on taking a path of food independence, let me know what you think of the video. Tonight’s dinner is homegrown asparagus, broccoli, eggs....yum!!!!!

Chickens are so wonderful ... take so little space and care’ve got the DVD... you’re in business for homegrown eggs!

Cheers for chickens!


The second letter was asking for a lot of information....

1. In your opinion, what is the best dual purpose bird to start with? I was thinking about turkens, because they're interesting, and we have a Sphynx, and that would have kept the ol' baldy theme going...but I've read that they really aren't that hot for dual purpose. Plus, they're so cute (to me--yes, I'll seek psychological help!) that I might have a problem killing them later. Was thinking of Barred Rocks but do they dress poorly?

Any dual purpose bird will work. You can even eat leghorns or bantams but they will not have too much meat. It's almost impossible to match the texture of cornish cross birds for broilers/fryers, though that those meat will not survive for very long, you can't keep them as breeeding stock. 8-(

2. Are whites better than the barred?

If there are pinfeathers white ones will not show up as much. Its an appearance thing, there is no taste difference.

Another reader responded : Yes, appearance. Camouflaged birds survive better in our fields & brush areas. If you so not have to deal with that issue, then just pick the ones you fancy.

3. White Wyandottes or white Rocks?
4. Are white Rocks a good alternative to the jumbo Cornish X Rocks?

It mainly is what you like and whether you plan to keep them as breeding stock. I've had the meat cross birds die at twelve weeks from a heart attack, they just do not survive well.

Another reader said: Our Cornish X Rocks started having heart attacks at 10 - 12 weeks (normally done @ 8 weeks but these latest ones had to wait thru the unexpected freeze & ice storms). All were butchered by 12 weeks, but some friends (first time chicken raisers) got to that point and could not bear to butcher theirs and lost all but a few by 14-16 weeks. No pun intended, it was a bit heart-breaking to know they died like that and were not of good use as meat.

5. In your experience, does Murray McMurray's "broiler booster" REALLY help to eliminate leg problems in the jumbo Cornish X Rock?

I have never used it. The only method I've heard may work from my experts is to limit the amount of feed these meat birds get so they grow more slowly. They also begin to peck at each other then because they are so hungry. 8-(

I am just not a big fan of the cornish cross meat birds for all the above reasons.

Again a response from another reader: Our outcome has been the same whether we use the Broiler Booster or not. The main thing would be to routinely butcher them @ around 8 weeks. From everything we've heard, limiting the food is the only alternative if you raise them to an older age. The pecking can easily result in the cannibalistic death of the bird in a very short amount of time.

Angel Fruit

6. Is oil gland removal really necessary?

No, though it does impart a stronger flavor to that area.

Your video is TERRIFIC. I really bought if for the slaughtering/dressing part at the end. I appreciate it because it's genuine and appropriate. What I saw on YouTube sickened me for the most part. I appreciated your earnest, respectful treatment of the subject, although I had to turn the sound down, because the music was sort of so emotionally evocative that it made me more sad than the thought of never eating meat again! LOL!
I think I can kill and dress chickens, but I don't know...raising them from peeps and all. Still, I believe I'd be doing it for the right reasons with proper respect to the creatures who would lose their lives to feed my family. I don't want to be disconnected from my food; I want to be a part of the cycle. I want to share history with family who have long since passed on. That sort of thing. And I know I can do a better job of "husbandry" than the chicken factories.
Still, I wonder if I'll have issues and not be able to do the job. If that happens however, I have decided to go veggie, because I can't see any sense being hypocritical. At any rate, your video really made me feel that I could do it. It will be interesting to learn something new about myself. Your video is certainly helping me along in the decision making process, and I thank you kindly! :-)