Monday, October 19, 2009

REALLY free range chickens

This past weekend, I went apple picking at Samascott Orchards to get a couple bags of Golden Delicious (aka the BEST apple ever). We pulled into the orchard, and saw that there was a new fenced in area of Guinea hens out front, a development that I thought was a little strange for an orchard that in my lifetime has never raised animals, but hey its a recession, and we're all trying to find ways to reinvent ourselves and maybe they just want the little suckers to keep their tick population down. Then we pulled around to the back of the orchard where the Golden Delicious trees are, and we are greeted by this sight. HUNDREDS of chickens roaming around, unfenced, unchained, totally free. My camera was not wide angle enough to capture the whole other field of them over by the grain feeders where many more chickens lurked. We were all amazed by the sight, and quite amused when the chickens seemed less than phased that we were driving towards them, barely moving out of the road. A few roosters even charged the car, an attempt to intimidate us for disturbing their hens, I'm sure.

I took a few pictures from the car window, as we stopped to gawk at them, amused and a little scared that we were going to get attacked when we got out of the car. My mom grew up on a farm, I have first hand accounts of how aggressive angry
roosters can be. So, we snapped a few photos while we pondered our next move, and discussed why exactly Samascott was raising these chickens. I didn't see any eggs in the coolers up front with the cider, but organic eggs from free range chickens can go for quite a pretty penny these days.

We decided that we could take the chickens, and decided to park and get out of the car to do what we came for to get some apples. The chickens converged on us, but did not attack. They simply surrounded the car. I missed a great shot of a couple crawling underneath the car, and then some jumping u
p onto the license plate and using it as a roost. I was still a little scared to get too close.

They lurked under trees while we were picking, crowed at us, and generally made their presence known without being too threatening. We managed to pick 124 pounds of apples by the time we were done, without any chicken attacks or injuries. I looked again on the way out to make sure they weren't selling free range eggs. They were not. So, the only conclusion that I can come to is that they must be selling free range chickens to eat, and just not advertising it because they don't want to traumatize the pickers who are entertained by these lively living animals.

I, for one, would like to know that every free range chicken I buy has lived such a happy truly uncaged lifestyle in the New England countryside before meeting it's death to be made into someone else's food. You hear so many stories of "free range" chickens that are merely let out of their cage for an hour a day since the term is so unregulated. I would most definitely buy a bird from Samascott if they were for sale, and make it into a delicious dinner. For, as cute and entertaining as they were while I picked apples, I couldn't help but thinking, you have lived such a nice life, feeding on delicious apples and running around outdoors, I really wouldn't feel that guilty eating you.


Kayla said...

I found your blog post in a search online and had to write you because it cracked me up!

My family owns Samascott Orchards and the chickens are a new addition. The first time I went back home and saw them I was laughing/in fear just like you.

Just so you know, we do sell the free range eggs in NYC at farmer's markets. We are not in the business of selling the chickens to eat..yet. Maybe your post will change things!

A list of the farmer's markets we attend:

(You may want to call first and make sure they will be available before you go.)


hiani16 said...

I amazingly just saw your comment for the first time today! Thanks for clearing things up about the chickens :) I will definitely be looking for Samascott at farmer's markets soon! -Janice


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