Difficult Day on the Farm

The Monastery Garden at the End of the Season
The Monastery Garden at the End of the Season

If you have been following these pages for any length of time, you know that I have begun a small farm here at the monastery.  Last year I was able to plant several raised beds with tomatoes and peppers and other such magnificent veggies.  The significant change was the introduction of a small flock of Chickens.

The Chickens arrived here more than a year ago and have given us a steady flow of fresh eggs that we have been able to share with our friends and neighbors.  So far they are covering their own costs and that is important in any farming venture.  We also purchased a rooster that turned out to be more trouble than he was worth.  We had no desire to hatch our own eggs, so the poor guy was just for show.  The pen was too small and, well, the girls did not like all of the attention he was giving them.  So we removed him from the flock.  That’s right; you do not need a rooster for the chickens to lay eggs.

In the early fall, something got into the pen, and two of the chickens fell victim, so we replaced them and increased the size of the flock to 11.  Following all of the best practices we had the flock tested and 2 of them did not pass and today they had to be removed from the flock.  Everything you read about farming tells you not to get attached to your animals, they are not pets, and one day they will have to go.  Chickens have a laying life of about two and a half to three years, and then, well, they just start costing money, so they have to be removed from the flock.

As an Orthodox Christian, I have an obligation to care for God’s creation.  We are to use it to our benefit, but we are also the care takers of this creation.  This would include any animals that we would take into our care.  Our farming philosophy is that we will treat our animals in the most humane way possible.  We will feed them the best food and make sure they are cared for to include protection from predators.  When we lost the two in the fall, I took it quite hard.  Not because we lost the chickens, but because I did not protect them in the way I was supposed to.  This may seem strange to some, but if we are to live up to our farming philosophy then this is a critical step.

Removing the birds was not a difficult decision as it needed to be made for the health of the remaining flock as well as the people who would buy our eggs.  They will be taken to the lab where they will meet a humane end of their life, and hopefully we will learn something about what happened so it can be prevented in the future.

Farming is not easy and farming in a way that respects not only the plants and animals that we raise but the earth that we raise it on is even more difficult.  But we believe that this is what we are called to do as Orthodox Christians.

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