How to Help to Eradicate the Battery System?

First, an update on the Smallest Smallholding:

I have been flying about like a madwoman this weekend. Literally flying from room to room, inside to outside, driving around in the car with hands clutched agains the wheel and urging people to STOP DRIVING SO SLOWLY. I’m not a maniac, it’s just if I’m going somewhere, I want to get there. I’ve got a million and one projects on the go or in the pipeline, work, interviews (like buses, nothing for ages and then two come along at once), interview preparations, more work and trying to keep the house ticking over without disappearing under a sea of fluff, washing and paperwork.

I’ve been trying to get a number of jobs done at the Smallest Smallholding; nothing exciting, just a few bits of ‘groundwork’. Things like weeding out the veg plots, raking under the hedges, finishing putting up the fencing and chipping a mile-high pile of dogwood, buddleia, hawthorn and pyracantha cuttings. I’ve still got to prune the fruit trees, dig in some sort of nutrition into the veg plots before I start sowing and planting, clear and clean out the greenhouse (and pots), transfer the last of the compost heap, chainsaw down the dogwood and cut down ALL the hedging before the blackbirds start nesting. And Rich still has to make me that (berluddy!) staging.

SO much to do. I’ve found that lately I get up, go outside in my pyjamas and have a poke around. Then I get sucked into a job and can be found hafway through the morning still sporting my pyjamas and donning a rake/spade/fork/hoe. And I’m usually wearing Rich’s shoes because they’re easier to slip my feet into if I’m nipping outside. I wonder what the neighbours think.

But I digress. I’m just really keen to get through all those jobs so that in effect, I can start with a clean slate at the beginning of this growing season. And I’m running out of time!!! So to try and get it all done, the plan has been to try and get outside at least once every other day for a bare minimum of an hour. It seems to be working so far, but then the weather has been holding out. The prolonged snowy weather we had gave me a serious case of the itchy-twitchies and I’m trying to take full advantage of any dry weather we’ve got.

The chickens are doing OK so far this year – Maureen is yet to pop out an egg, despite chicken-folklore citing Valentine’s Day as the day that a hen will traditionally come back into lay. OK, we had unprecendented levels of snowfall, but let’s face it, Maureen is an ex-battery hen who is around 3 1/2 years old. That’s pretty old for an ex-batt and she’s doing remarkably well. Yoko is still very large, but seems to be getting on with things. She’s still bellowing when the mood takes her either from the cover of a hedge or shrub, or when waddling behind Maureen when she fancies a jaunt about the place.

I’m still seriously thinking of getting a few ‘spring chickens’. We had rotten luck with Cynthia, Pattie and Yoko’s health, which has made me wary of getting more ex-batts. But I can’t help but just feel like I NEED to give them a good retirement. Somehow getting ‘ordinary’ hens from a stockist would feel almost frivolous when I know that there are so many ex-batts needing a home. Champion of underdogs, me. But keeping ex-batts has made so many people around me aware of what goes on behind closed doors, and that’s something that I feel is so very very important. It means that I’m helping to influence more people to think about where they get their food from, and how they need to change their shopping habits. It’s vital that as consumers, we need to support farmers in the switch from battery or barn systems to free-range. We also need to support our small-scale local farmers too, buying locally where possible. But I think one of the main problems is getting people thinking about the ‘hidden eggs’ in cakes, biscuits, confectionary etc. In many ways that’s much more of a challenge.

So with easter upon us, and the image of chicks and hens all around, I think it’s a great time to get people thinking about the tens of millions of caged battery hens, and how they can help to eradicate this type of intensive factory farming. So I’m wondering whether my fellow bloggers would be interested in promoting some sort of ex-battery rehoming/battery egg prevention campaign on their blogs and possibly offline? Just a thought.

Oh, and incidentally, Cadbury’s Creme Eggs stil use battery eggs in their ingredients. So it’s safe to say I’ll be abstaining from them. Even though they’re really, really tasty (see my sad face here). Come on Cadbury’s, get your act together and get with the programme…