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A Chickening

08/08/2012

Belle

On Saturday morning the Professor and I loaded up the car with a cooler and camera to visit Good Life Ranch in Liberty, Kentucky. I wrote earlier about the decision to add chicken to my diet in effort to improve my health. This has not been an easy choice to make. For years I have preached against the woes of modern farming practices and the production of ridiculously large, hormone-laden, cruelly treated animals. My meat-free lifestyle has become a source of tremendous pride and a significant part of my identity.

These are an heirloom variety of chicken called “Naked Necks” that originated in Hungary. Geoff and Lindsey chose these birds for their good egg laying abilities and good taste. They are and active and personable breed, are good foragers and are immune to most diseases.

Then life threw me a gigantic curve-ball (hello autoimmune disease and PCOS) and left me poking through my fridge, trying to figure out what the heck to eat for dinner.

“WE CAN EAT CHICKEN!!!!!” the Professor and die-hard carnivore said with glee.

“Ugh. I just don’t know…” I blanched.

“Well how about you find some happy chickens,” he suggested.

Cue obsessive researching.

I scoured the Internet for the perfect Kentucky farm that practiced what I had preached for so many years.

  • A sustainable farm no more than two hours from Lexington that is run by passionate people
  • Preferably a newer establishment where our dollars will truly help a small business and a local economy
  • No hormones or crazy chemicals being fed or injected into the animals
  • Animals who are allowed to live a good life before they land on your plate
  • Animals who are loved and tended to daily
  • And, most importantly, a farm that would welcome my husband and I at any time to visit the animals

When I saw Good Life Ranch’s website I knew it was the farm for me. After devouring the detailed information on every page I emailed the owners asking if I, one moderately crazy and intensely passionate animal lover, could pay their farm a visit. Within 24-hours we had set a time and I had informed the Professor that we would be taking a little road trip. He put on his agreeable pants and played along (although I’m sure he would have much preferred to just grab chicken from the co-op one block away!)

Any farmer who cradles his goats if ok by me.

Geoff and Lindsey McPherson are my kind of people. Both accomplished educators, Lindsey and Geoff left their jobs in San Antonio, Texas and purchased Good Life Ranch in 2010. Passionate about sustainable farming and education, they are working to grow their business slowly, from the ground up. The farm boasts free-ranging heirloom chickens, cattle, pigs, turkeys and rabbits and organic produce. In addition, the well-traveled McPherson’s are constructing real-life poverty simulations that will provide students from across the country with unique experiences and the knowledge to seek change.

As we trudged through the damp grasses, dodging the occasional cow patty and visiting the animals, Geoff and Lindsey explained their farming practice and passion for sustainable agriculture. As I listened, I became more comfortable with the decision to change my diet. I am not just picking up chicken labeled as free-range at an organic market. I am directly supporting a couple as they chase their dreams, supporting an industry I am fiercely in support of and giving back to the local economy all while working to improve my health.

Honestly, the only better scenario I can think of is to have never gotten sick in the first place, but even then I would not be the strong woman I am today.

A side story: I have a friend who announced at one of our dinner parties, “I don’t dislike animals…I just feel they should have to wear pants.” I never really saw the logic in his argument until I was editing these photos. 🙂

The Professor and I ordered 15 chickens, which will be ready for pickup in mid September or early October, and two heirloom turkeys for our Christmas dinner. I’ll be sure to share my adventures in cooking chicken in time!

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14 Comments

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  1. August 8, 2012

    Nothing better than finding a farm you feel good about!! We’ve got an amazing farm just down the road that supplies all of our meat and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Just something to look into, as great as a farm can be the butcher they use is critical to ensuring that you’re getting meat from an animal that was treated humanely through its ENTIRE life. So many great farms just use a local, sometimes horrific, butcher shop that use disgusting practices. I like to research how the animals are butchered in addition to the farm to make sure I’m only eating happy, healthy animals.

    Good luck, can’t wait to hear how you like bringing chicken back in. Thanks for being someone who cares about animals enough to do it the right way 🙂

  2. pegara #
    August 8, 2012

    I grew up eating only organic livestock. We didn’t have a farm but one I myfather’s friends did and my dad helped him out and iteration as payment. The cows were oats fed and free ranged on grasses
    And grains that had no chemical. Same with the chickens and pigs. After I left home and started buying my own meat the taste difference was obvious! With beef you can see it in the coloring too. People don’t realize that when you butcher your own cattle te meat is brown (because it’s not full of all that extra dye to make it red.

    Good for you for
    Sticking by your convictions and finding a place you can be good about!

  3. August 8, 2012

    I love farms like this! More and more of them are cropping up. The big thing is most are fighting just to maintain their business, so I’m so happy to see this post.

    One of the biggest things many people neglect to consider is where their food comes from and what the conditions where for the animals being raised. Granted, this mentality is more expensive initially, but I think conscientious/human practices lead to better food. And better food means a healthier human.

    • August 8, 2012

      They ARE fighting to keep their doors open. I work with small businesses and am all too aware of the struggles they face. I work had to support small businesses whenever possible and to educate people whenever they will listen 🙂

      You know, we looked carefully at pricing. We will pay $3.50 per pound for the whole chickens. At our co-op a pound of free range chicken from a large scale farm goes for significantly more for just breasts or just thighs. We’ll be getting whole birds so we can use every part for food and stock. In the long run, I think the added expense is pretty minimal!

  4. August 8, 2012

    So excited for you, Belle! I love the pics..and wonder if you could email them this post..it really is sweet. I am sure they would enjoy your perspective on seeing them live their passon. This is inspiring for all of us…from their story to yours.

  5. August 8, 2012

    Love the photos – and I love these people for running an ethical, humane business. (I’d cradle my goats, too, if I had them!) I think it’s great that you’re supporting them.

  6. August 8, 2012

    Ack! I feel good about eating chickens until you post these beautiful pictures of happy chickns! Doesn’t taking pictures of them as live happy animals make it harder for you?

  7. veetamia #
    August 8, 2012

    Wow I’m really impressed by this post Belle! Well, the info and the pics (and that was a very cute farmer btw 😉 ) But, you got me into thinking about how much more involved we should be about our food? I always try to buy organic here, but on the premise of it being healthier, not so much thinking about small businesses and such…. Maybe I’ll get my husband to research a little about that and get informed!
    Btw, what are you doing with 15 chickens?? Can you store them in the freezer for a while?

  8. August 8, 2012

    This is so cool! I’d love to hear how you did the research. I have been trying to find a way to buy organic meat but at the grocery store it is so expensive. I’d love to find a local farm near me that does the same.

  9. August 8, 2012

    I knew you’d find a perfect farm, and your photos are beautiful. Now, I’d be hugely grateful if you’d post your chicken recipes when you start cooking them. I’m trying to psych myself up to moving in this direction…maybe.

    How is the rest of your diet plan going? Sneaking any beers in on these hot summer nights? 🙂

  10. August 8, 2012

    I love that you can say “The professor and I.” Not that this is about him, but as a sidenote, I find it adorable.

    Hope your chicken experiment goes well, and I can’t wait to hear what you cooked! And the pics are way cute….as usual!

  11. August 8, 2012

    Yay! What a wonderful place for chickens to grow up. (Also I love that your husband is now referred to as The Professor!)

  12. August 8, 2012

    Love your pics! Yay for finding a beautiful place to get your chicken!

  13. August 9, 2012

    Goodness me, I LOVE this post. This place looks FANTASTIC. I wish I lived nearer to KY!

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