Thursday, September 25, 2008

Kirby's Kluckers

The more you know about food and where it comes from, the more paralyzing shopping is. My ideal shopping cart would include food that is grown locally, without antibiotics, and is nutritious. It should be from animals that are raised with all their original parts, natural habitats should be minimally impacted to grow and harvest the food, it should be packaged in environmentally friendly packaging, no workers should be exploited in the growing and harvesting process, and minimal oil should burned to transport it. Oh, and I would like it to be delicious please. Is that too much to ask?

There is a guy at our local farmer's market that sells chickens. From his sign I can only infer that his name is Kirby, and I have been buying his Kluckers for the past several weeks now. I was so excited when he showed up at the farmers market because the chickens in the local supermarket are barely passable as meat. They are generally droopy and fatty, and I shudder to think what the conditions they are raised under might be. I am always looking to shop locally, but ironically our nation's heartland doesn't produce much beyond corn and soybeans (which you can't find in the supermarket btw). So, when I saw the local Kluckers, I excitedly bought as many as would fit into my freezer. Kirby's sign also has messages scrawled on it about "natural" and "no antibiotics, no hormones". Wow, that's all great I thought.

Well more recently I have thought to ask Kirby the details of his chicken operation. He tells me that he raises about 70,000 "birds" a year, and he raises them in 9x12 roofless buildings each containing about 80 birds.
9x12: that's how big our new patio is. When I imagine 80 birds living on our patio, it is not a paradise that I am envisioning. The birds are obviously cramped. And unlike "free-range" chickens these chickens do not have access to the fields around them (although I understand most free-range birds aren't smart enough to venture outside anyway).

"Well, do they all have thier beaks?" I ask
"Yeah, they have their beaks" says Kirby.
I explained to Kirby that I had read somewhere that people who raise chickens will frequently pull off thier beaks so that they don't peck eachother all up while they're mashed together in thier ridiculously undersized cages.
"I feed 'em lots of protein, and when they have enough protein they don't peck"
"I had understood that they pecked because they were stressed from the tight living quarters, but you're saying that their trying to eat eachother?" I asked.
Kirby turned to me in a nice, but pitying, special ed teacher kind of voice and said:
"Well did you know that meat has protein?"
"Yes, I did know that" I say.
"Well if they get protein then they don't peck.
Apparently the tightly packed birds are actually trying to gobble each other up.

Whatever. All I know is that I have basically 3 options for poultry at this time.
#1: buy floppy, fatty Tyson birds from the supermarket and feel terribly guilty while eating moderately edible chicken.
#2: buy Kirby's Kluckers and know the pea-brained birds aren't exactly living the dream, but at least they have their beaks, and also know a ton of fossil fuel wasn't used to get them to my dinner plate
#3: Don't eat chicken -- no way!

While I am disappointed that buying food in an environmentally and socially responsible, and animal-friendly way is all but impossible in America's heartland, I am comforted to at least know that my fried chicken never knew the displeasure of going beakless.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Look at our awesome new patio! I know this has been much anticipated by the general public what with all the hype and all. It has been much anticipated by us as well, since we actually started the project about 3 months ago. The funny thing is, the actual project only took two days, but we managed to spread it out over an entire season. That does not deter me from planning further projects though. I think the patio is awesome, and I am already drawing up plans for more landscaping and general backyard beautification. Of course I will wait until next year for that since it may snow any day, and that way our blisters will have healed, and hopefully by then Keith will have forgotten how much work this patio was.

Action Shot

Finished result

I think we may even have a few nice evenings left this year for enjoying margaritas outdoors.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

This Week In Merle

Sunday Keith and I drove down to Kearney in order to drop Merle and Braedon off at the airport there, thus concluding their week long Nebraska adventure with us. I think a decent time was had by all. We tried to show the duo some of the finer things Nebraska has to offer including ankle deep rivers, copious dog walks, kite festivals in scorching heat despite concomitant wind storms, and of course a visit from Keith's mom and grandpa.

Merle claims the reading time and "gentle breezes" were relaxing, she seemed to get along well with our children, and she didn't seem too freaked out by ginormous bugs that exist in our back yard.

Keith and I were glad for our first (and in all likelihood last) visit from someone in my family, and we are happy that travel went well for them.

Since most of you have likely already seen the above pics on Keith's blog, let me close with some lovely shots of a perfect golf swing. Go get 'em Tiger.