Sometimes, I don't think I give small farmers and ranchers, like myself, enough credit for what we do. I tend to think it's really no big deal, but I guess that's because it has become so routine. For instance, this morning I unloaded 21 bags of 50 pound feed into containers in the barn. Not a bad workout! (I didn't make it to the gym this morning) It's not for people with bad backs, that's for sure! Every morning, I feed my barn cats, my Livestock Guardian Dog, my horse, and our 100+ chickens and ducks. I empty and refill our water tanks, when necessary. I throw hay out in the hay feeders for the horses and alpacas. Then, I collect the duck eggs that were laid in the wee hours of the morning. If we have chicks or ducklings in the chicken tractors, I carry water and feed out to the tractors to fill the portable water tanks and feed for the troughs. I raise the tractors and move them to give fresh grass to the chicks / ducks, and then lower them to "lock them in place". At night, I round up all of the ducks, who simply refuse to go in the stalls on their own, and get them put up in the barn. The chickens and ducks are locked up for safety during the night time. Chicken eggs are collected. The horse, barn cats and alpacas are fed again (but I get my son to feed them!). It's quite a bit of work. This is not to mention the early spring and fall when all of the stalls have to be stripped down and cleaned. Also, once per year, we get a full load of hay on our gooseneck trailer and have to unload it and stack it for the winter feed supplements. Fly traps have to be filled and emptied throughout the summer. Fencing is needs to be repaired. Waterers break, lights burn out (it's really high up in the barn for light bulb changes!), ant hills need to be removed, tractors and trucks require maintenance, animals get sick and require vet care and extra attention (our guardian dog has CHRONIC ear infections, requiring us to give special medication and ear drops every morning and night), ... the list goes on and on. I guess we small farmers / ranchers do deserve a little bit of credit!
I left a high paying job years ago to stay at home and raise my three children. My husband bears the burden of supporting our family through his job, God bless him. However, property taxes continued to rise, causing a need for some additional income on my side. That's why this all started. Then came the people who had horrible auto immune issues that needed healthy, fresh eggs from non-gmo fed animals. So, we switched over to special feed...and didn't change the pricing of our eggs. We had a family come to our door and tell us their children were allergic to chicken eggs and wanted to know if we had duck eggs. Nope, we'd never had any ducks. But, we ordered a few and began providing eggs to their family...and more.
So, the reason for the title of this post? There are many, many local families and business' trying to earn a living. These are your neighbors and friends. So, that's one reason to buy local. Another reason is that when you purchase eggs, meat, and dairy from local farms, you can SEE how the animals are being treated and what they are being fed. You can talk to the actual farner / rancher to ask questions. You don't just have to trust a label. Did you know when a label says, "Cage Free", it could actually mean the birds are raised indoors in overcrowded spaces, like at large factory farms? Did you know when a label states, "Pasture raised", it means that the animals have spent at least SOME time outdoors on pasture, but there are no government standards on how much of it's life the amimal spent on pasture? "Free range" requirements don't specify how long the animal has access to the outdoors each day, meaning it could be just a few minutes. In fact, it doesn't even assure that the animal even went outdoors to freely roam. I encourage you to check out the website, www.foodandwaterwatch.org to learn more. Lucky Layla Farms is an excellent, local choice for dairy. Kelly Family Farms is an excellent, local choice for 100% grass fed beef. Paca D'Lites Ranch is an excellent, local choice for chicken and duck eggs. Btw, chickens and ducks naturally molt in the winter and do not lay eggs. They need a break from laying to get new feathers and to restart their system. This occurs naturally when the daylight hours are reduced. Some farms use artificial lighting to keep their chickens and ducks laying throughout the year. We don't do that. Just sayin...
When you buy local, you get the freshest foods. When you buy local and you check out how they care for and feed their animals, you can get healthy foods, too! When you buy local, you help out your friends and neighbors. I think that's better all the way around! How about you?