Feedback From A Reader
(and a very fine story)

Dateline: 28 June 2013

This blog post is about much more than shrink-bagged chickens...

Over the years since starting The Deliberate Agrarian (this blog) I have been blessed to hear from a lot of readers. Some people ask me for advice (I don't think I'm the best person to ask for advice), but most folks send me words of encouragement, and tell me about their life and family. Such is the case with the following e-mail I recently received from a man named Ben. There are several endearing themes in Ben's "story" and I asked his permission to post it here. Those of you who are older, and faced with caring for your aging parents, will, I think, especially appreciate this....

Thank you so very much for the wealth of information you have so selflessly shared in your blog.

This spring, along with ordering some egg layers and exotic birds (to give my 87 year old Dad something to spark his interest) I ordered 50 Cornish Cross meat birds. After the experiences of my youth butchering chickens I had no intention at all of doing it myself this time. When the birds arrived I called a processor and made an appointment 8 weeks out for them. I didn’t really want to pay $3 a bird but I was still determined not to re-live the past. 

About that same time I came across your blog and began to learn a great deal about how the process should be done. What I was reading, in no way shape or form, matched my experience. The more I read, the more confident I became. Then I began to share what I was reading with my brother-in-law (I was raising 25 of these for him) who grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan. He too processed chickens in his misspent youth and wasn’t all that thrilled to try it again either. After listening to me regale him with my new found knowledge derived from Planet Whizbang (and adding up $3 a head) he agreed we should give it a shot.

My brother-in-law and I set up and did 15 birds on a recent Saturday morning. We thought we did fairly well being really, really rusty, and plucking by hand. We had a lot of trouble bagging those first birds both with a vacuum machine and getting them to fit in gallon ziploc bags. So the following Monday I ordered a package of shrink wrap bags from you. We used them the following Saturday for the next 20 birds. Those bags are incredible! They are easy to use, fast, and fit skin tight around the bird. The bags made that part of the process fun. I even made a little design and printed it on the blank labels you sent. I ordered more bags and we finished the last of the birds this past Saturday (I attached a pic of one of our finished birds).

This experience has started a domino effect I did not expect. As I have begun to share my story of raising meat birds I have been asked if I have any for sale. I am meeting more and more people who would like to purchase locally grown, organically raised, pastured chicken. The birds I just finished I wouldn’t sell as “Organic” even though they were pasture raised. The feed they consumed came mostly from my local TSC farm store. However, today I visited an organic farm in my area and purchased an initial 200# of truly locally grown organic chick starter (for the next 50 birds already on the way.) Saturday I will be meeting with a group of people very interested in placing additional orders.

Funny how something I did simply to engage my Dad has snowballed. He thinks it’s great and it’s really brightened him up. I wanted you to know that Planet Whizbang has played a key role in this process and I am very grateful.

I also will be ordering a Whizbang Chicken Plucker kit as soon as the funding becomes available. I am not gonna try and pluck few hundred chickens by hand before winter!

Thank you again for all you do,


Do you sense the excitement in that letter? And did you catch the part about Ben's elderly father being brightened up by the chickens? When I wrote back, asking permission to publish the story, Ben told me more...

Please feel free to use any or all of what I sent any way you like. You have blessed my family and me more than I can express. My father is relegated to a wheelchair and had pretty much given up and disconnected from life. I decided to get a few chickens to try and pull him back, and as I mentioned, one thing has led to another. We now have 20 laying hens, 10 assorted Polish chicks and 6 Bourbon Bronze turkeys that will die of old age around here. When I ordered the next round of meat birds I also ordered 15 assorted Phoenix chicks. Dad really gets a kick out of rare and unusual animals and is now enjoying sitting outside and watching the birds run all over the yard.
When I was growing up we had many different unusual animals at one time or another. We had Angora goats, Scotch Highland cattle, Belgian Draft horses, hogs, just about any variety of bird you can think of, the list goes on and on. When I was a teenager we had a big hen turkey (she was supposed to be the star of our Thanksgiving dinner.) She would come and sit next to dad on the porch swing. They would sit there and rock back and forth for hours. Well the week of Thanksgiving my dad gave my sister a $20 bill and said "go to the store and get us a turkey we don't know." I don't know how old that hen was when she finally succumbed, but she definitely got all the years God allocated for her species.
You are correct concerning my graphic designing past. I was in the graphic design/sign business for more than 25 years. That business became a casualty of the economic downturn during the last decade. I took that opportunity to become an over the road truck driver. I had wanted to do that since I was old enough to know what a truck was. After 4 years of that (more than enough time to quench that desire) I came off the road so I could be home to help with my dad. I did that as much for mom as dad. Mom is 83 and still very active and involved but cannot (and should not) handle the heavy lifting that is involved with dad. I am blessed to be in a position in my life where I can be here to provide the care dad needs and allow him to remain in the home he has lived in for more than 50 years.
I'm very glad I came across your site. It's reassuring when I read the stories and musings of people like yourself, it lets me know there still are good Godly people out there doing their thing, in spite of the lunacy.

Well, I have to say, I'm blessed and reassured when I read stories like yours, Ben. 

Thank you!


LindaG said...

What a wonderful update.
Have a blessed Friday. ♥

Everett said...

Hi Herrick, Very nice story! I am 75 myself and after retiring from 20 years in the US Navy I came home to the place I was born and raised in, Block Island, RI and took over my Uncles LP Gas business. Actually I paid him for it! After 30 years of doing that I turned it over to my two youngest sons. Now I am their gopher! To take up all that slack time I reverted to my youth here and got into subsistence gardening, chicken and turkey raising. We also started out about five years ago raising two hogs for our immediate family. Well that has now blossomed to six for other families at a half hog apiece. We do all the slaughtering and packaging of of the meat right here on the homestead. Would NOT be doing all the birds without the Whizbang plucker! Anyway it was great to read that story. Best regards, Everett

Anonymous said...

Ben and I have the same thoughts about what you have accomplished in our lives. Just by being there and being willing to share your journey... I feel certain that there are many others that feel the same way. I pray that God will bless you and your family in all ways.

Cynthia (C.L) Lewis said...

Awesome story! My parents grew up on farms (my mom was the resident chicken plucker) and both left the farm and lived suburban lives with us kids. But they are excited for my family as we move away from suburban living and towards a homesteading/farming lifestyle. They are coming for a visit and excited to see my chickens. I told my mom she doesn't have to pluck any but if she has tips to feel free to share! LOL!

Herrick Kimball said...

Linda G—
Thank you.

I appreciate your comment, and your story. I've written here in the past about families butchering hogs together. One was the Virts family. They got together every fall for something like 100 years to butcher the hogs they raised. I can't find the link now.

Then there was the excellent blog post by Gina over at her "Home Joys" blog, telling (and showing) all about her family butchering day. Here is the link (I'm sure you'll like it):

Hoof To Freezer at Home Joys"

Thank you very much.

I think every family that turns their back on total industrial-world dependency (in its many forms), and works as a family to be more self reliant, is living a great story, and yours is but one example.