chicken economics, Polish style

This comment on our  post on chicken feed is too interesting to miss.  Eddy and Gosia live in Poland.

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Gosia’s family still feed the chickens on boiled potatoes. They collect all the too small and damaged potatoes at harvest and that’s the feed for the year. Add a bit of wheat that they grow collectively with the extended family of aunts and uncles and the bulk of the diet is taken care of. The flour mills in the area also give you the husk of anything that you happen to mill and the scraps from the table and garden are ready fodder and fill any gaps in the diet and of course all chickens are free range here, which I’m reminded of every morning as I take the kids to school and pass house after house with chickens scratching around at the side of the road.
Cost to feed, zero, just a little time. And they look after a flock of about twenty, which provides eggs for three families, including ours.
From a numbers point of view:  8-week old birds cost $3 and eggs can be sold for around 25c and chicken soup is the national dish, served every Sunday before lunch 🙂

Thank you, Eddy and Gosia!

5 thoughts on “chicken economics, Polish style

  1. Hi Shawn and Beth!
    Brooke here from Saskatchewan Canada. My husband and I have recently purchased at 15 acre piece of property. We were so inspired by you after so many people told us you can’t farm anymore.. especially with such a small piece of property- But we still wanted to farm. Your book has been such a valuable piece of our journey and we are so thankful to you for that! We truly want to have an “independent farmstead” where the farm feeds the farm! Just like our great grandparents used to. It’s the only thing that makes sense.
    On our property a big chunk of it is dead fallen trees. We knew purchasing this that we wanted to intensively rotationally graze and bring this farm back to life. However, where do we suggest we start with the animals? We have a couple milk cows that we are rotating through the “pasture” (if you can call it that).. but we would like to start clearing the bush part so we can eventually run the cows through there. Do you think pigs would be good to help clear the land a bit? We are just looking for some direction where to start to turn this dead fallen bush into something that can feed the farm.
    Thank you so much
    Brooke.

    1. Dear Brooke,

      Thank you for the good words. We are so glad to hear from folks who share our belief that the small, independent farm is still possible, and still an important part of the agricultural picture.

      Your new farm sounds full of great possibilities. Without seeing it, we can only guess at what you are working with. Perhaps you will want to look at pigs or goats on that area of fallen trees. As you open it up you will probably find brush or cane moving in, and you’ll want an animal whose impact willl help you keep the brush under control. Pigs are going to tear the ground up more than goats, but if you aren’t on a slope where erosion is an issue, some soil disturbance can be a good thing. One thing we would like to mention: if we were dealing with an area where there were a lot of fallen trees, we would want to do some research into hugelkultur. Perhaps the dead trees will represent an opportunity to establish swales, hazelnut hedges, or some other food hedge, like blueberry. IF there are enough of them and they are big enough, you might be able to use them as low fence or wall along keylines, helping to contain water and animals. Your land sounds as though it has lots of wonderful opportunities for you.

      It is so good to hear from a new set of folks who recognize their own potential to learn from a piece of land, help it to realize potential, and help create an ecosystem — what Wendell Berry would call a ‘neighborhood’ — that feeds and fertilizes itself.

      Best of luck!

      Shawn and Beth

  2. Thank you so much for your reply. I have been researching Hugelkukture and love that idea.
    How many acres do you think a farmer needs to support a couple dairy cows? I know this is a broad question based on pasture quality. We have to feed hay all winter as we reach -40 C many nights here.
    My husband and I’s dream would be to come visit your farm and learn from you!
    Thank you again for all you do.
    Brooke

    1. Hi, Brooke — we’re so glad for your interest. We think the future of food and health has to lie in family-scale food production. Your’re right, of course, pasture quality/composition makes so much difference to the number of acres per head grazing. Around here, where we have lots of poor soil but a very non-brittle, temperate climate and lots of native diversity, four acres of mixed pasture has grazed a full-sized Jersey from April through December, with good management.
      We would love to meet you and have you visit the farm. We offer farm workshops — should be one soon — and we post them here. If you live nearby (but if you track your temps in degrees Celcius, you probably don’t), give us a call — pax!

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