What Do We Mean By This?...
Our mission is to raise our poultry, and our family, in balance with what we perceive as The Cycle Of Life.
We did not grow up as farmers, and we did not really understand where our food came from, or how far out of balance our modern lifestyles had taken our environment.
When our children grew old enough to solo during dinner on a chicken drumstick, we felt the need to take a stand. And vegan was not our way.
If we were going to eat meat, we were going to raise the animals, treat them well, and complete the circle ourselves. We decided to become Sustainable, Domestic, and Humane... which is explained below.
However, just to be clear...
Humane and Cruelty-free does not, in our case, mean no-kill. It means that there was no cruelty on our farm, nor will there ever be. Some of our poultry, particularly the chickens, became our dinner once they began to suffer in their old age.
We treated them with the deepest respect, and cherished them in every way. All of the eggs are no-kill, of course, and the feathers that were molted are listed accordingly.
I understand that the original animal rights definition of "cruelty-free" meant no-kill... but based on my own farming experience, I can't support such a broad definition. I think that sometimes nature doesn't intervene on time... and to just stand by... is cruel.
When we first started with chickens, years before the organic movement, we were dismayed to find that easily accessible commercial feeds contained horrible ingredients like animal by-product, antibiotics, and pesticides.
If we wanted a feed that contained only grain, and the right balance of minerals, we would have to make our own, which was a daunting task, and we didn't take it on.
When we came back to backyard poultry farming several years later, we were delighted to find feed containing only grains and minerals, due to the conscientious efforts of other farmers, growers, and manufacturers in New Mexico.
Knowing that fresh, leafy greens were critical to good flock health, we went knocking on the back doors of the organic markets that lined the streets of Santa Fe, New Mexico, mecca of organic food enthusiasts.
The vegetables tossed into our pens had impressive pedigrees. Wholesome food and clean water from our own deep (and regularly tested) well, gave the geese, ducks, chickens, pheasant, partridge and quail a foundation for their natural good health.
We know that the term "organic" is a moving target legally, depending on the USDA definition and certification process. We were not USDA-certified organic. We are drug, chemical, pesticide, and animal by-product free.
Our process, even when we are between flocks, is truly sustainable. It is poultry farming in a non-abusive, non-polluting, food-justice method that can be sustained long term.
I network with other farmers who share my values, and this mission drives our business. Linked together, we can make a difference in an industry guilty of some of the worst practices in the world.
Our chicks came from New Mexico and Midwestern hatcheries, and although many of the breeds of pheasant, partridge, and quail originated long ago in Asia, China, and parts East… all of our birds were Born In The USA.
Our feathers are either from our own birds or bought directly (and unprocessed) from like-minded farmers. I am pleased to be able to offer feathers that are 100% domestically grown.
I sort, wash, dry, and temperature treat, the feathers myself (I also clean the eggs, of course.) Through my process, I can guarantee that the feathers are clean, sanitized, and bug free... using no harmful chemicals. Buyers must, however, continue to protect the feathers using proper natural bug repellents (cedar and citronella) because my feathers don't have the toxic residue of commercial feather treatments.
But the good news is, no toxic residue!
Most commercial feathers, many of them spectacular, are imported from other countries, where they can be purchased in bulk for much lower prices than I can offer, because they are grown and harvested in ways you seriously don't want to know about.
All of my products, particularly the feathers, are domestic... and local. The exceptions may someday be eggs like Chilean Tinamou, because I might know somebody, who knows somebody, who is sustainably and humanely raising Tinamou in Chile... and you've got to see those eggs to believe them. Awesome!
Our flock lived in an enormous netted aviary with natural trees, ground cover, plentiful roosts, shade, rocks, cubbyholes and heated winter shelters.
They had fresh air, sunshine, fresh food, clean water, and the opportunity to engage in every aspect of natural behavior including flight, but excluding incubating their own eggs (since my business is collecting and blowing their eggs for sale).
Many of the birds lived out their natural lifespan in our care, or were given to fellow-feeling farmers. When the time came to butcher, we used a method that was, by far, the most humane, respectful, and quick process, ever.
Our birds came full circle, and we appreciated them every step of the way. We didn't de-beak, overcrowd, confine, force-feed, or artificially light our birds. The eggs we collected daily during the laying season were infertile, and would never have hatched a chick.
Our labor force was, and is, made up of mothers who can do the work in their homes, or in mine, with their babies by their side.
They don't have to hire babysitters so that they can work, so their earnings are not diluted.
I started this business in order to be able to earn while taking care of my own children, and I soon realized the huge potential of a labor force of women in exactly my position.
These mothers are able to work, willing to work, often very much in need of work, but are locked out of most jobs due to baby.
All of our work is done inside the USA, by mothers working next to their babies.
I call this Mother Built.
The Feathered Egg started as a true cottage industry, set among the piñon and juniper near the Pecos River, in New Mexico.
Our catalog of products are all derived from birds that are well cared for, and well celebrated, by their keepers.
Now that we've moved to the city, we continue our mission by fair-trade buying from like-minded backyard farmers who treat their birds the same, or even better, than we treated ours.
Soon, we'll have a farm again - and until then, we expand our mission by creating a network of people who are making a difference by farming with integrity.
We invite you to explore our site, enjoy our products, and contact us for anything you want and don't see listed, as we are developing new items all the time.