On Tuesday night we welcomed some new faces along with our speaker Paul Greive, his wife, 6-month old son, and business partner, Rob McDaniel. For our potluck dinner, Paul brought two dishes made with chickens from Primal Pastures. The rave reviews on Paul’s tender, flavorful, smoked Cajun chipotle chicken made me wish I hadn’t been at the end of the line! We also enjoyed some pan-seared wild salmon, homemade salads, and a couple cold soups made with garden-fresh produce.
|Our Potluck Dinner at Nature Friends Lodge in Sierra Madre|
After a pleasant meal under the trees on the patio, we headed upstairs for a presentation by Paul and Rob. The first half of their presentation was devoted to illustrating just how simple and economical it is to raise chickens in your own backyard. We were shown slides of many styles of chicken coops, all designed to provide protection from the ground predators so common here in Southern California. Both bobcats and coyotes are known for their massive killing sprees with the majority of their plunder being left uneaten. To address this problem, you can easily purchase or construct an inexpensive lightweight enclosure containing a coop and some open ground for the chickens to walk around in.
|Slide of a 1918 Poster from the USDA|
Every night your chickens will return to their roost for nesting, resting, and laying their eggs! You’ll get an average of one egg per chicken every other day for about 3 years, fewer in the winter and more in the summer. But don’t worry about the non-stop egg production. If you don’t eat any eggs one week, you can always share your bounty with your neighbors. They’ll just love your flavorful homegrown eggs with the dark yellow yolks!
|Chickens at Primal Pastures|
|View of Primal Pastures with
A Link to their Presentation
Some believe that Southern California might not be an ideal environment for raising pastured animals. But Paul believes just the contrary: “Take any marginal land in Southern California and farm it appropriately and sustainably, and you’ll have year-round productivity!” Unlike other farms where productivity slows when animals spend winters in barns, here in Southern California, with proper care, our animals can lead happy, healthy, and productive lives all year round.
|Primal Pastures Before and After|
Primal Pastures has only been in business for 14 months, and already they’re a big success. They follow the model of Polyface Farm, and use the same principles of holistic grassland management as taught globally by Allan Savory of the Savory Institute. Paul’s and Rob’s farm also reminded me of a farm I visited in Texas late last year after the 2012 Wise Traditions Conference, the only farm in a drought-ridden farming community with productive green pastures. The contrast between that farm and the surrounding ones was striking, and the message was the same: To survive the drought, simply use traditional time-honored methods of natural grazing without adding any chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, antibiotics, or any other manmade chemicals! The neighbors who once laughed at that rogue Texas farmer were now eager to learn his secrets, the same “secrets” shared by the owners of Primal Pastures.
|Sheep at Primal Pastures|
In any case, I completely understand boycotting factory-farmed meat, but most people don’t realize that there’s another option. Eating grass-fed meat is not only healthy and humane, but also helps lower our carbon footprint. Animals grazing on grasslands sink carbon back into the earth where it belongs! Grass needs carbon to grow, and any grass that’s being intensively grazed and regenerated on a regular basis will do plenty of growing and regrowing, week after week, month after month, year after year. Active grasslands are said to use even more carbon per acre per year than mature forests! Some even calculate that if everyone supported grass-based farming, we could completely reverse global warming within 10 years.
|Paul Greive & Rob McDaniel
of Primal Pastures
Many thanks to both Paul & Rob for an inspiring presentation! Primal Pastures is currently offering tours, consultations, and even classes on how to process chickens. It’s a skill that’s highly encouraged for all those who care to stop depending on industrial agriculture. After such a great presentation, I for one am very backyard-chicken curious!