Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Do You Love Your Chickens?

Do you love your chickens? 

The question caught me off-guard. 

But, the customer-lady was waiting for an answer…

Love my chickens? 

                      LOVE my chickens?


Questions like this abound at the Farmers’ Market.  Sometimes the questions are really strange. Often they don’t even know what they want to ask. Many times folks don’t even wait for the answer.  …and occasionally they get more than a little mean and confrontational.

But each and every one of them deserves some sort of answer. That’s what direct-marketing is all about. And that’s how we’ve chosen to market our products and make our living. I must say, it keeps us on our toes!

I appreciate the fact that today’s consumer wants to know more about their food.  That’s great! I’m glad that folks are thinking about food and farming and I’d like to help them find the answers.  But, in the whole quest to KNOW YOUR FARMER, KNOW YOUR FOOD, particularly at the Farmers' Market (which is a great place to start), here are a few things to remember.

Keep an open mind 

If you are asking questions, hoping to build a relationship and further your knowledge---don’t go into the situation thinking you know everything.  You don’t.  (and for the record…neither do I) Remember, you can’t learn anything if you’re not willing to see things from a different perspective and gain insight from someone who actually farms.

Wait for the answer

I don’t always talk fast enough for other folks.  Random strangers occasionally finish my sentences for me. But, I am not hesitating because I just don’t know, I am thinking how best to answer your question. There is no backspace/delete button in conversation, and I try to avoid misinformation at all costs. Hang on…the information is coming.

Don’t Make Assumptions

I’m sure you’ve heard that to assume is to make an ASS out of U and ME.  There is a lot of truth in that somewhat snarky little comment.  All farms are not alike and no matter what you may have heard about farmers, it may not be true.

Go to the source

Celebrity authors, television doctors and movie stars all have some opinion about the issues of the day.  However, they have no actual experience with growing food for others and all too often their “information” is skewed for their own benefit.  Talk to someone who actually produces the item in question.

Don’t pick a fight

If you truly want some information, I’ll be glad to talk to you.  If you are just cranky and feel it necessary to lash out at someone, please shop elsewhere. It’s rude to tell me that I can’t possibly understand, that I don’t really know (anything) or that I’m just out to make a dollar.

Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you (yes…the Golden Rule)

That one really needs no explanation and should go both ways

Please know that we would never try to sell you something that we didn’t feel safe and comfortable serving our family.

We grow food…good food…because we enjoy eating it. We sell food…good food…because we enjoy sharing it with others…and it helps to pay the bills.  

To that end, we are bound to be good stewards of the land, of the animals and of the limited resources with which we have been entrusted.  Our methods have been thoughtfully researched and our practices are the best ecological/economic choices for our particular situation.  We don’t (well, we try not to) make judgments on any other methodology. So, please don’t ask us to condemn other practices just to make our way seem like the better choice.

While I cannot assert that I love my chickens….and quite honestly, I have no idea if they are actually happy or contented, either...I can tell you that I truly appreciate them and the products they provide (the customer-lady seemed happy with that response)…and that we give them the best care possible. As we do with everything on the farm.

We have been given a great gift in this life here on the hill…and it is our responsibility to treat it with care.   …and we do.  Our customers’ well-being and peace of mind are of utmost concern to us as well.            This is true for farmers everywhere.

Thank you for asking…

                       thanks for shopping...

                                                              ...and have a great day!

We welcome questions...have you got something you'd like us to answer?  Let me know in the comments.


  1. Well said Barbara, and every word of it true. I wish more folk spoke slowly here - people rattle along far too quickly for my liking. I think you have to be in farming to really understand the problems it presents and a lot of folk shopping at farmers' markets just don;t understand that.

    1. You're right, Pat. I think that a lot of people like to think that they understand, but without a working knowledge of farming, they miss a lot.

  2. You could always say your family loves chickens... ;)

  3. For most people, like me, farming is an entirely foreign world. What a shame not to take advantage of the opportunity to learn something of someone's life so different from our own. I understand the emotions of people regarding animal care and was a vegetarian for 12 years to boot. Still, I never judged others harshly for a different opinion, though being a vegetarian in the 60's and 70's was really ugly. So many people thought my choice was a purposeful insult to theirs. ?????!!!!!!! Huh?!
    Open minds and open hearts are always the way to go, and forgiveness is a habit one should learn above all others. Other people aren't the only ones who say things that are better left unsaid. I've done my share.
    Your handling a difficult question with grace and truthfulness was just great. Tending to customer relations takes as much care as tending crops, and with similar benefits.


    1. "Open minds and open hearts are always the way to go, and forgiveness is a habit one should learn above all others."
      You are absolutely right! So very hard to remember sometimes...
      Thanks for the comment.

  4. Stopping by to say hello from the Country Fair Blog Party #11 - Very well written and good points to remember - for all of us! I work on behalf of chicken (and turkey) farmers in Minnesota - mostly conventional production but we also have some organic and niche farmers as well. I am amazed at the questions I get when I'm out promoting poultry, so I appreciate all these words of advice. :)

    1. Thanks for stopping by!
      I've been reading your posts for some time now and I've learned a great deal. (and I love Earl the Pug)
      Have a great day and come back again soon.

  5. Very well written. "Please know that we would never try to sell you something that we didn’t feel safe and comfortable serving our family." My thoughts exactly!

    Thank you for joining the fun at the Country Fair Blog party week #11.
    Laurie - Country Link