Category Archives: Blog

‘Free-Run’ doesn’t mean sh*t

This week I settled into a booth at a Moxie’s Grill & Bar for a quick lunch. Now, I normal favour supporting independently owned restaurants but this chain happened to be attached to a hotel I was staying at and I was in a rush.

After giving the menu a quick glance I settled on their Herb Alfredo pasta, and for only $5.50 more I could add chicken. Now if you know me by now, you’ll know that I’d forgo the chicken and stick with the vegetarian version at a restaurant like this but my interest was peaked none-the-less.

These days every restaurant, farm, and business in general wants their customers to know they’re making ethical and sustainable choices and Moxie’s is no different. So as I expected right there in bold font at the bottom of the menu read, “We always use cage-free eggs and free-run chicken from Canadian farms, raised without the use of hormones and steroids.”

‘Free-run chicken’… While reading that might, for some, instil a level of confidence in the way their chicken is raised, it does the exact opposite to me.

Because, I know through my experience as a farmer that ‘free-run’ doesn’t mean sh*t.

Free-run is one of those fun little terms marketing executives use to try and make consumers believe their chicken isn’t factory farmed. Free-run simply means the chickens aren’t in cages within the barn.

EVERY. SINGLE. meat chicken raised in Canada is free-run. Jay is a 4th generation bird farmer, my father-in-law sat on the BC Poultry Marketing Board, both of them farmed commercially in the past and never once has either of them ever seen or raised a meat bird in a cage within a barn. It would be a totally unnecessary expense for the farmer to instal cages when they aren’t needed.

Now, that’s not the same when it comes to chickens raised for eggs, many farms still keep their egg layers in cages but that’s a discussion for another day.

So now that we’ve established every chicken raised for meat in Canadian barns are free-run, let’s keep in mind this term means nothing for how much space these birds get or the conditions in which they’re raised. And, it absolutely doesn’t mean these birds ever go outside — Free-run birds are raised exclusively inside a barn.

Ok, so the ‘free-run’ claim might have been a bit misleading, but at least we can be happy the chicken they serve is raised without the use of hormones and steroids, right?

Wrong!

Hormone and steroid use in chicken raised in Canada has been banned since the 1960’s… Yup, over 50 years now and yet we’re still acting like that makes one farmer’s chicken better than another.

And, now before you go skimming our website I admit you will in fact see that we list our chicken as being raised without hormones but we also state that’s the case with all chicken raised in our country. Unfortunately those high-paid marketing executives have created such a demand for hormone-free chicken that not mentioning it would cause some potential customers to think hormone use is part of our business.

So there you have it, Moxie’s claim regarding the chicken they use in their restaurants doesn’t mean sh*t. And, they’re not alone in making these claims. Every day I see businesses bragging about using free-run chicken and I see consumers eating it up.

‘Free-run chicken from Canadian farms, raised without the use of hormones and steroids’, could very well be coming from the worst factory farm in the country and everything about that claim would still be correct.

Transparency will always trump fancy marketing terms so if you ever hear a business using wording you don’t fully understand, I’d love to help shed some light on the subject — And if I can’t, I’ll find a farmer who can.

Kendall ~ The chick behind Central Park Farms

 

Central Park Farms’ Long Table Dinner

Earlier this week, we were honoured to host a group of local media and influencers for a beautiful long table dinner highlighting some of our favourite food and beverage producers here in Langley.

With the help of the talented Summer Dhillion of Slap Communications we welcomed a select group of media to come dine on a feast prepared by Chef Adrian Beaty alongside those who produced the food and beverage behind the meal.

Roots & Wings Distillery’s Vital Vodka

When guests arrived they were greeted with an ice-cold spiked lavender lemonade from Roots & Wings Distillery. Langley’s first and only distillery, they treated us to their inaugural artisan spirit — Vital Vodka.

With drink-in-hand, media were given the opportunity to tour the farm getting a backstage pass to see exactly how our farm operates including a cuddle session with baby chicks while learning what makes our farm different than the farms that produce the meat in your local grocery store.

The calm before the dinner storm.

Following our tour, it was time to settle in for dinner produced by Chef Adrian using only products from Langley farms.

Chef Adrian working his magic

Guests dined on a meal that included our pasture raised pork and non-GMO fed poultry and micro greens and seasonal vegetables from our friends over at True Grit Farm.

True Grit Farm prides themselves on always delivering honest, sustainably-grown, nutrient dense food. They focus on producing high quality micro greens for restaurants throughout the Lower Mainland as well as a CSA program that helps provide well-grown produce to our community.

True Grit Farm salad with herb vinaigrette.

During our meal guests enjoyed two selections from Backyard Vineyards — Their currently sold-out Rose and their slightly off-dry Riesling.

Backyard Vineyards is a full production winery nestled in the countryside of South Langley whose small boutique setting produces award winning yet approachable wines for everyday enjoyment.

Backyard Vineyard’s winemaker James

No dinner would be complete without a little entertainment and we were lucky to have local musician Ryan McAllister providing the soundtrack for the evening. And, capturing the magic was Brooklyn D Photography.

Ryan is nothing short of amazing

Such a special evening

Langley’s Trading Post Stout brined Central Park Farms’ ham, house made beer sausage and bacon stout jam

Christie Lohr, Jamie Khau, and Michelle Morton

Dinner underway

Central Park Farms’ Boss Chick Kendall alongside her farm boy Jay.

I’m proud to have been in the company of such fantastic Langley producers — Thank you to each of you for your contributions to the evening. Thank you to Tourism Langley and Destination BC for supporting our event.

And, a special thank you to each of our guests, I know summer is a busy time of year and that your calendars are full, I truly appreciate each one of you taking the time to come out and learn what our little farm is all about!

Kendall ~ The chick behind Central Park Farms

Up and Coming from Central Park Farms

The snow has finally melted and a few sunny days have come. The daffodils around the farm are starting to grow and it’s finally starting to feel like the beginning of the season for us here on the farm.

For me, it’s strange to think it’s the start of my farming ‘season’, since we raise animals all year round and the only fruit and veggies we grow are for our own family… and for those customers who help take zucchinis off our hands when I’ve somehow grown far too many. It’s not like we’re a seasonal farm.

But, Spring is here and this year more than ever I feel like we’re ramping up for our ‘season’.

Anyone who’s been by the farm lately know we’re in a bit of construction — those who know us well would say, when aren’t you?! 

I’m so excited to say that construction on our new MASSIVE walk-in freezer is complete. It’s such a vital piece of equipment to help support our growth and the services we are able to provide our customers.

And speaking of serving our customers better, I’m so excited our new farm manager Sharon, started on Monday. It’s always exciting when you’re able to grow your team but never more so than when that team member just so happens to be family. My mom will be here 5 days a week helping with customer orders, deliveries, farmer’s markets, and just all around being my right-hand as we transition into managing both the farm and the ranch.

I know I’m a little biased but my mom is just the sweetest lady around so I know she’ll fit in perfectly. Plus, she’s an incredible business woman — She left her career as the Director of Operations and Administration for a large international transportation company to join our team.

Also, starting in April we’ll be adding variety meat packs to our website. You’ll soon be able to pop online, order a collection of our ethically and sustainably raised meat and eggs, and then come pick up from the farm or have it delivered to your home.

As if that’s not enough we’re also ramping up to open Central Park Bed & Bale. A two bedroom private home located on the west side of the farm will be turned into accommodation where visitors can stay — with their horses if they choose — and enjoy all the local parks and wineries that we’re proud to call neighbours. It’ll allow people to stay with their equine friends and enjoy ride out access to both Campbell Valley Park and the Irene Pearce Trail. If you don’t have any four legged friends, not to worry we will also be renting it for those who just want to experience the tranquility of country living.

And, call us crazy but we might even try to squeeze in an on-farm event or two this year!

Thanks to everyone of you who supports our farm and makes my dream come alive beyond what I could’ve ever imagined. I truly appreciate every one of you who comes and buys our products either from the farm or any of our retail partners, those who share our social media posts, or refers us to their friends and family. Together we’re putting control of our food system back in our own hands.

Well, there’s lots of exciting things to come for Central Park Farms so I’d better get back to work so we can get it all done.

Kendall ~ The chick behind Central Park Farms 

I’m Sorry If I’ve Misled You

I’ve always promised honesty and transparency. So if I’ve misled you, please hear me out and accept this as my sincere apology.

It started innocently enough, after finding a couple beautiful, pastel eggs nestled in some straw in one of our barns the other night, I just knew I had to share it with you. But, no matter the angle, no matter how hard I tried to get that perfect photo for our Instagram account, I just couldn’t get the right light in our dimly-lit barn.

So like any modern farmer in this world of social media, I plucked those babies up in a quest for better illumination — There in the corner of our broiler chicken barn, I was able to snap the shot that ended up making the grade.

As I awkwardly crouched taking photos with my trusty iPhone, Jay let out a laugh and clicked a photo of his own. He caught his farm-girl-other-half fudging a backdrop of an Instagram photo that would go on to get over 100 likes.

Now, I know we all do this… staging and editing our pictures to crop out those messes, shine a light on the beauty of our surroundings, and provide a ‘highlight reel’ of our lives so to speak.

And, lately I’ve begun to realize that my ‘highlight reel’ might be misleading.

I regularly get comments by non-farmers, ‘Isn’t farming just the best?!’… or ‘I’m so jealous that you get to spend all day with all those cute animals!’

Let me say here and now that farming isn’t always easy and it surly isn’t always cute.

When we first got our cattle from Alberta, our girls went through a change in diet and like many of us that change did lead to some rather embarrassing bathroom moments for them.

While we knew this was normal, Selena just couldn’t shake it, so in order to rule out any health issues I needed to take a sample to the lab for analysis. But, to say she had stage freight was an understatement. Every single time either myself or Jay were ready with gloves on she’d clam right up.

That is until that fateful day, when she finally decided to throw caution to the wind and go… right beside me. Without my trusty gloves or an appropriate receptacle, I was forced to catch her sample in a nearby grocery bag…

Please let that soak in for a moment. There I was frantically catching runny poop in a freaking bag.

Fast forward a few months and our cows are due to deliver next week. And, if you had told me before I got into farming that I would be spending so much of my day studying the vaginas’ of cows, I would have thought you were crazy.

I think I can speak for all my fellow local farmers when I say this weather has been slightly more than I can handle. I can’t seem to keep up with the endless issues and challenges caused by the below freezing temperatures Mother Nature has thrown our way.

Before our most recent chicks arrived to the farm, the barn they live in was sitting empty. Like any empty barn, it sat unchecked until one night as I went to hop in the shower I realized we were severely lacking in water pressure.

Out onto the farm I went to try and figure out the problem and as I walked past my newly renovated broiler barn I knew I’d found the issue. It seems the water had froze and burst my water line and my barn was filling up with fast running water.

It’s dark, and late at night, and there I am getting soaked with water spraying everywhere, as one of our tenants walks by and says casually, ‘Kendall, I think we’re having an issue with our water pressure.’…

‘Oh, you don’t say,’ I thought to myself. Here I was just enjoying a late night, middle-of-winter, one woman wet t-shirt contest, when there’s a real issue needing my attention.

And here I am in all my exhausted, poop bag glory

Truth be told even with the chaotic days and challenging moments I wouldn’t change a thing. But, with all those stunning old barns, cuddly animals, and perfectly curated photos filling your feed, I can see how it would be easy to overlook the tough parts of this lifestyle choice. But, rest assured farming is hard work and with often times bad hair, worse nails, and a big ol’ bag of crap.

Sounds glamorous, doesn’t it?

Kendall ~ The Chick Behind Central Park Farms 

 

 

Health, Farm/Life Balance, and Turning 30

mexicoI’ve always been a bit of a rebel — And farming is no different.

I go against the commercial farming industry and focus on small scale sustainable farming. And, I go against the thing I hear time-and-time again about farmers. I actually take holidays! A farmer taking holidays is a shocker in the industry, frankly it’s almost unheard of. Well this farmHer ain’t having it.

But, what many of you don’t know is that for the past two years I’ve been battling some pretty major health issues that have been escalating recently. It’s finally looking like the end’s in sight and with a team of countless doctors things seem to be moving in the right direction. And, it couldn’t come a moment too soon!

About 4 weeks ago now I had a partial thyroidectomy and have been in recovery mode since. Those who’ve been by the farm lately have had the treat of getting to hear my new hoarse ‘4-pack-a-day’ voice that comes curtesy of some vocal cord damage.

I don’t know if anyone else has been through a long drawn out medical issue filled with misdiagnosis and misinformation but it’s exhausting and at many times defeating. Huge shout-out to Jay for being such an amazing man, always there for me and fighting for me when I was to tired to fight for myself.

I’m happy to report that things are looking up and I’m starting to feel a bit more like myself these days. Which brings me to the point of this whole post… On Nov 6th, I turned 30. It felt like it was going to be touch and go there for a bit but I was able to turn 30 weak from surgery but on the road to recovery.

So I’ve made a pledge that I’m going to spend this first year of my 30’s being kinder to myself.

I’m going to get my fitness on.

This has nothing to do with a weight loss goal, I’m actually working to gain some of what I lost while I was sick, but working out just makes you feel good!

Another big thank you is due to the wonderful ladies at Oxygen Yoga in Aldergrove — You girls helped me keep my shit together when I was falling apart and I really appreciate that. I can’t wait to get back to class next week now that my doctor is giving me the ok. Yoga has been a life changer for me both mentally and physically!

I’m going to focus on the farm but also take some holidays.

I am lucky to have a live-on farm hand who takes great care of our animals and allows me the opportunity to disconnect and get out of town from time-to-time. Having that time to spend with Jay and the kids, or just time the two of us, has always been so important to me but when your doctors start throwing around the ‘C’ word, it reminds you just how short life can be. So I’m taking the damn holiday!

As far as the farm, we have lots of exciting stuff in the works and I can’t wait to be able to share with you all soon!

I’m going to try to eat better.

I know, I know, I’m the one always saying make smart food choices. But, I’m also the one who always says we’re just human and we’re busy, so I make lazy food choices sometimes too. One thing I plan on doing is incorporate some of Chef Adrian Beaty’s new prepared foods into my dinner mix.

For those who may not know, Chef Adrian Beaty was the chef behind popular Fraser Valley restaurant Seasonal 56. Well he’s recently changed gears and has started up a line of prepared foods using only quality, wholesome, REAL foods — Including our non-GMO chicken! It supports local farmers and it delivers right to your door.

Talk about easy and it sure beats the hell out of the processed frozen dinners at the grocery store!

And, maybe I’ll try to eat more salads. Maybe.

 

Well I thought it was time to give you all a little update on my health and I wanted to put these goals for my 30’s in writing so I stick to it… Don’t you think it’s time we’re all a little kinder to ourselves?

Kendall ~ The Chick Behind Central Park Farms

Ethically Raised: It Begins With You

chicks

Last night I spent the evening celebrating the upcoming nuptials of one of my closest friends. As I stood, glass of wine in hand, mingling I heard Jay talking with a fellow party goer who was discussing a friend of theirs having turned vegan following some charges being laid against a dairy farm in Chilliwack regarding the unethical treatment of their cows. I’m sure many of you know the video I’m referring to.

“Oh lord, here we go,” I couldn’t help but think.

Now, I have no problem discussing proper animal husbandry and ethical meat consumption with anyone with an open mind. But, sometimes during a party when someone hears that we’re animal farmers they picture the poor life quality of factory farming and pool all us farmers together.

I’ve only ever been a small scale farmer. And, I’ve always prided myself on happily raised animals. Central Park Farms will always remain a small producer so we can be sure our animals are treated right.

Jay on the other hand has seen both sides of farming. He is after all a third-generation poultry farmer and was previously the owner of a large commercial farm. So when conversations lead down this path he tends to have a slightly different reaction than I do.

I usually end up lighting the torches and grabbing the pitch fork right along with that party-goer.

‘Down with factory farms!,’ I’ll shout.

But, last night I overheard Jay in a conversation that needs to be had. While he absolutely agrees that the type of farming we do at Central Park Farms is the way to go and is happy that we never have to buy commercially raised meat again, he’s also less willing to put the full blame on the farmers.

I listened in as he replied, ‘Yes, but consumers are the reason these conditions exist. If you were willing to spend a little more so you could buy quality, well-raised meat then these big commercial farms would either have to raise the bar, or go out of business. But, everyone wants cheap meat.’

It’s true. If we as consumers stopped just SAYING we want animals to be raised ethically and actually ACTED on that desire by using our shopping dollars to show meat producers that we aren’t willing to accept poor animal husbandry, then it would create the change we all say we want.

My father-in-law who previously sat on the board of directors for the BC Poultry Marketing Board gave me a little insight into why many large factory farms are the way they are. Back when he owned his poultry farm he worked on a 60 cent profit margin per bird. 60 CENTS!

Now imagine how many birds you would need to put in a barn to turn a profit that would support your family. The more room you give an animal in a barn the more you pay in heating, lighting, and bedding, not to mention you need larger buildings and more land to house those buildings.

So now how much money are you left with?

At Thanksgiving when your local Wal-Mart puts their turkeys on sale for .79/lbs people rush down there to snatch them up. We can’t honestly believe those are well raised birds, right?

By the end of the conversation our friend began to see that although there are the exceptions where a farm owner or manager turns a blind eye to animal abuse which is absolutely unacceptable, that most of the time these poor conditions we all complain about are because as consumers we’ve demanded and supported ultra-low prices on meat.

Let’s all be the change we want to see and start buying quality, well-raised meat products even if that means we have to eat a bit less to afford it.

A meat producer telling you to eat less meat? Who’da thunk.

Kendall ~ The chick behind Central Park Farms 

The truth about livestock transport

poultry farm fraser valleyAs Canadians we often feel pride in the laws and rights we have in our country. Let’s face it, in many areas we set the bar pretty high.

But, when it comes to laws protecting livestock during transportation we hugely miss the mark.

I recently read an article on CTV News in which Krista Hiddema, managing director of Mercy for Animals Canada, explained that ‘Our transportation regulations in Canada are the worst in the Western world.’

She went on to say, ‘Animals are often transported thousands of kilometres without any food, water, shelter or any protection from the elements.’

If there’s one area I know well it’s transportation, it was after all my corporate career for close to 10 years. Although I had never dealt in livestock transport some of the facts in this article were shocking to say the least.

In Canada, cattle are currently able to be in transport for up to 52 consecutive hours without food or water, while pigs and chicken can go a maximum of 36 hours.

36 hours?! As a poultry and hog farmer I cannot even imagine subjecting my animals to that sort of treatment.

Take our chicken for example, the abattoir we use is exactly 27km from our door. That means our birds are in transport for a total of 30 minutes.

Now I know we’d all rather not have to think about this part of the process but it is a fact for both farmers and meat-eaters alike.

On a commercial farm a crew is hired to catch the chickens and load them into the transport trailer to be taken to the plant. While I can’t speak for all crews, or all chicken catchers for that matter, I do know that speed and getting the job done tends to be the primary objective in many cases.

At Central Park Farms, we are the catching crew. On the day our birds go to be processed we wake up nice and early and start our day by catching our flock. We take great care in loading our birds into proper transportation crates and into our livestock trailer. From there we make the 30 minute trip to the plant arriving just before our appointment.

By handling them this way we greatly reduce stress by limiting not only the time our birds are in transit but also the total time they remain in their crates to one and a half hours.

But, times are changing and consumers are starting to take notice. According to recent statistics, ’97 per cent of Canadians said it is important for animals to be transported in a humane manner that addresses their basic needs.’

It’s time for our federal livestock transportation laws to be updated but in the meantime let’s start asking more questions of the people who produce our food. These animals deserve better than inhumane, decades-old legislation.

Kendall ~ The chick behind Central Park Farms 

8 Things I’ve learned from farming

Langley Farm

Unlike my other half Big Jay, who’s a third generation farmer, I’ve only been farming for going on two years now so I’m by no means an expert but through much tutoring on his part and LOTS of mistakes on my part, I’ve managed to learn a couple things during this crazy journey.

No matter how long someone’s been farming or how pulled together their farm might look, we’re all winging it at least part of the time!

I’ll never forget going to tour another local farm when I was first starting out and thinking to myself that I’d never have it figured out like they did… only to have the farmer turn around and tell me that she’s winging this whole farming thing more often than she cares to admit. And, since that day many others have echoed those same words. Now that Central Park Farms is a couple years in, I get calls from new farmers wanting to come see how we do things and get advice on starting their own farm and I still always think in the back of my mind, ‘don’t they know I have no idea what I’m doing?’ So cheers to my fellow farmers who whisper ‘WTF’ at least once a day!

Sometimes you just have to take the leap.

While this is a good tip for life in general I’ve never found it more vital than in farming. With the never ending ‘to-do’ list that goes along with owning and operating a farm we’re never truely ready to take the jump into anything new but I find if we don’t just do it we’ll never have the pressure to figure it out. When I first convinced Jay to set me up to start raising my own chickens he told me to call a local hatchery and see if they ever have any extra chicks. So on my lunch break at work that day I made a call and within 15 mins the voice on the other end of the line offered me an over run of 500 chicks. Just like that — with only a few hours to get ourselves ready for our first batch of chickens — Central Park Farms was born.

A healthy farmer, is a good farmer.

This past year has been a rough one in the health department for me and unfortunately I’m not out of the woods just yet. But, I’m slowly starting to realize that I need to take better care of myself in order to be the best farmer, and well the best ‘me’ that I can be. After all farmers don’t get days off, especially when they raise animals.

There’s something very satisfying about producing the food your family eats.

I’ve said it a million times but before I met Jay I was so detached from my own personal food system, I blindly consumed meat without much thought as to where it came from and how it was raised. While I could always imagine myself as a small business owner I would have never thought I’d be a small-scale farmer. Now that I am, I can’t explain how great it feels to know exactly where the food I feed my family comes from. And don’t even get me started on how amazing it is to not ever have to buy meat!

Farm Fraser ValleyThere is no excuse for the ‘waste’ we produce.

Getting involved in sustainable farming has really made me think twice about the amount of waste we produce. The bottom line is there is no excuse for the amount of food waste generated in our food system. I’m very proud to be part of a group of farmers working to reduce the amount of food that ends up in our landfill. Our pigs are fed exclusively using a food waste model and they eat better than many people I know — embarrassingly enough better than I do some days. Their diet consists of fruit and veggies from local grocers and nuts, grains, and other cast offs from a local manufacturer of granola bars and cereals.

24 hours is about 13 hours short of what I need in a day.

Farmin’ ain’t easy. And, it surely takes time. One of the biggest issues I’ve had to try and over come was how few hours there are in a day. I guess more so I just needed to give up the pipe dream that we could do it all without any help. These days we’re lucky enough to have a live-on farm hand to help out around here which also allows us to sneak away from time-to-time.

There is a really great community of people out there who care about the food they consume and will take the time and effort needed to support sustainable small farming.

When Jay first told me that if I wanted to raise meat for our family I would need to try and sell some to friends and family to offset my costs I wasn’t sure that there’d be any interest. Fast forward even a few months into things and there were complete strangers driving all the way from Vancouver simply to buy our poultry. Thank you so much to all the customers who come out to buy from the farm. It’s honestly a pleasure meeting you all and getting a chance to chat with you about why you’re interested in taking a more active role in your food choices.

There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.

When I was in my corporate career I felt like it was what I was meant to do — I thought I loved my job. Now that I’m farming I know that wasn’t the case. Raising animals and owning your own business can be stressful but when I need a moment to sit back and be thankful it’s nice to be able to get snuggles from the donkeys or go hang out with the pigs for a bit and remember why I’m doing this.

I still have a long way to go when it comes to learning the farming ropes but it sure has been fun so far. Thank you to everyone who’ve taken the time to follow along!

Kendall ~ The chick behind Central Park Farms

 

The hard part of farming

Fraser Valley Farm

We often talk about the benefits of pasture raising animals but how often do we all consider the risks. Don’t get me wrong I’ll always be an advocate of ethically raised meat consumption but I think sometimes when we all picture these happy animals frolicking in wide open pastures we sometimes forget the challenges this can cause for us farmers and our animals.

I’ve been contemplating whether or not to post this for about 3 weeks now but in the end I’m here clicking away on my laptop because the one thing I’ve always promised is transparency.

We pasture raise all of our animals with exception to our quail who live in a large enclosure. In commercial quail farms they are kept in very cramped quarters but here they free run and fly in an enclosed open air space. Their ability to burst fly and the fact that they don’t roost like chickens means we’d never be able to round them up if we let them have the run of the place.

With pasture raising animals comes a whole new set of difficulties to overcome.

Langley Chicken Farm

About 2 months ago while out-of-town delivering quail to a fellow farmer I received a call from our farm hand Mark. In prior weeks we’d seen a predatory bald eagle occasionally watching our flock and while we do our best to protect our animals with the use of guardian animals like our donkeys, that morning the eagle decided to take on one of our hens.

But, there was no way our noble rooster Henry was going to allow one of his hens to be hurt so he did what he felt was necessary to protect his girls, giving them time to get into their enclosed sleeping area.

Unfortunately Henry was injured too severely by the attack so we gave him the respect of putting him out of his pain.

Henry was mine and the kids favourite chicken here on the farm so it’s been an adjustment not hearing him crowing at top of his little lungs at the crack-of-freaking-dawn each morning.

When you loose an animal to something like a predator which would never happen in factory farming conditions it’s tough to not have a moment of thinking, ‘if I’d only kept them in their coop.’ But, this is farming and things happen.

We run a safe, clean, and well managed farm but I would rather risk the rare chance of something like this than change our operation and stop our animals from living outdoors.

For us it comes to finding a balance I’m comfortable with. Our birds are not given 100% outdoor access. They come into their large barn or coop area at night — for the most part on their own accord — so we can minimize the risk of predator attacks. We also hope our guardian animals are doing their best to help deter these types of things.

Although Henry is very missed, the silver lining is that one of our hens recently hatched out five chicks — Heir’s to Henry’s throne.

I’m thankful this was such a rare occurrence for us but it served as a reminder to me that at the end of the day I’d rather a farm full of happy and healthy animals out in pasture than a commercial farm where my animals are locked up in the barn being pumped with antibiotics that are needed in such stressful and cramped conditions.

This is the hard part of farming.

Kendall ~ The chick behind Central Park Farms

But, what happens when someone gets sick?

Langley PorkCentral Park Farms prides itself on being a non-medicated farm. The pork, poultry, eggs, and quail we sell all come from animals not treated with antibiotics, hormones, or any other medication.

The key to all of this is that we take many steps to ensure our animals stay healthy from the start.

This is why we have to limit access to some areas of the farm.

Meat chickens are the most likely of the animals we raise to get sick — I’m sure we can all remember hearing about cases of Avian Influenza in the Fraser Valley. Bird diseases travel very easily on the bottom of our shoes and the tires of our vehicles, which is why it’s very important to be sure those who visit our farm and come into contact with our chickens haven’t been in contact with other poultry farms. And, if they have, the appropriate biosecurity steps are taken to minimize the risk to our flock.

With Big Jay being a third generation farmer, biosecurity has been ingrained in him since a very young age, and in turn he’s always quick to remind me of how important it is for our birds. As safe as we know our farm is, we can’t be sure that other farms are disease free.

Aside from biosecurity to protect our flock, we also take natural steps to boost their immune systems. When our chicks first arrive they’re given a natural electrolyte formula added to their water to help reduce stress and strengthen their systems.

But, what happens when one of our animals gets sick?

We are asked this question often and while we pride ourselves on not selling products where medications have been used, I will never allow one of our animals to suffer simply so we can stand behind our claims.

When administering medication to animals there’s what is call a ‘withdrawal period’, the length of time it takes for the medication to get out of the animal’s system before it can be processed and its meat sold to the public. All farmers who administer medications need to follow the withdrawal period and much of the meat in your local grocer has come from an animal that at one point received vaccinations.

Now with all this said, I still stand behind the products we sell and can assure you that our products are non-medicated.

Last year, one of our pigs Rango, began showing symptoms of Swine Erysipelas or in farm terms Diamond Disease which is caused by a bacteria that’s found in the tonsils of 50% of farm animals. This is most common in animals who sleep in straw bedding which we provide for our animals — No hard slatted beds on our farm!

So began treatment with penicillin and within days Rango was back to his playful-self bugging his sisters.

Following his treatment and the safe withdrawal period, although his meat was 100% safe, we decided not to sell his pork. We kept some for our family and under our partnership with Sources Food Bank over 150lbs of quality pasture-raised pork went to families in need in our community.

I’m happy to report that after almost two years of farming this is the first and only time we’ve run into a health concern with one of our animals that needed treatment. It’s the preventative measures we take that make all the difference.

Kendall ~ The chick behind Central Park Farms