SlowMoneyFarm A to Z – Agriculture, Australorp, American, Access
As a means of getting more information about what we do, I’m exploring an A to Z approach, with up to four things on each letter. This can be a means of introducing something unique in our animals or varieties, or a view or something we’ve done. Shall we get started?
Agriculture is an obvious. A life of agriculture touches from dairy to beef to sheep to horses, poultry, rabbits, hay and so much more. Agriculture is much of who we are and the food choices connected to it are important. We have an old fashioned diversity following the adage of not putting all your eggs in one basket. When things go wrong with one thing, perhaps something else is there to pick up the slack. Agriculture is a passion from early on, when being with the cows or horses was preferred over dolls and other little girl interests. Through 4-H and FFA I learned many life long lessons about life, and about agriculture.
Australorp refers to our big black chickens, an old breed. From Australia origins, the Australorp gathered attention at a time before modern poultry management. “It was the egg laying performance of Australorps that attracted world attention when in 1922-23 a team of six hens set a world record by laying 1,857 eggs for an average of 309.5 eggs per hen during a 365 consecutive day trial. ” Remember this was before lighting systems, timers, modern barns. The Australorp today is a good layer of brown eggs, and well developed for the outdoor life. Their dark coloring stands out less than white birds, making them less apt to get the attention of predators. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy has the Australorp listed as recovering – their numbers are coming back after being very low. These are active, but personable birds. I’ve found that while they’re independent, they also like to be nearby and take to pens well. We have some birds that are 3-4 years old and still laying well enough to keep.
American heritage, history, traditions are strong. From heirloom varieties of vegetables to the heritage breeds of livestock, the American agriculture of 100 years ago was a much different look. There were still many oxen used, as well as horses in the fields. A big focus for many was providing for a family and selling the extra, rather than growing to sell as many do today. That is not necessarily better or worse – depends on your perspective – but it IS different. American breeds, and those which American farmers changed, made it possible for Americans to not have to focus on their food production, as breeds were developed as specialists. The Leghorn hen, Angus steer and Holstein cow are prime examples of this – they’re good at what they do, in the environment they were bred to do it in. Many, like the Australorp, are also excellent at what they do in the environment they were bred for, but that isn’t a modern confinement system. They are larger and the wrong color for modern markets, but still provide well for the market they were developed for – small farms.
Access – I see many large companies trying to ‘build brands’ by consumer engagement. They strive to put forth a personal, small time feel and yet they aren’t small and sometimes aren’t really personal. We have access – want to know what your chicken or rabbit ate? Ask us. Want to know how something was done or what that variety of pepper is? Ask us! Are we certified organic? No. Want to know what we use? Usually organic remedies – ask us! Want to know what I think – ask! (Be ready for an honest answer!) For those who want access to their food production, without doing it themselves – we have that option. Food choices are something for everyone, and that’s something I’m pretty passionate about – even for the majority that will never buy anything from me. Of course making a living is important, and our customers are important! But not everyone is just like us…and that’s ok!
Join in as we go A to Z – maybe learn some new things, share a perspective and find some trivia tips!