The last time I submitted an article I had figured out that going largish and getting a farm loan to build a barn to raise chickens and  vegetables was not my path nor was it financially smart.  Another element was looking for government grants and funding for new agricultural operations.

What I discovered: Government loves to fund the study of new  operations.  They want to gather everyone together, pay a mediator a healthy  sum to organize everyone in a fashion that looks like their helping.   While  doing research for available grants I would hear lots of different sources  make statements like, "there is lots of money available for farms".  Loans  are available, nothing else.  Now a loan is not necessarily a bad thing, but  I already have enough debt.  If there are grants available to get a  wanna-bee farmer started, I could not find, access, or uncover such moneys.    Maybe thats a good thing.  One could say that I have lots of learning to  do before I deserve any granting.

I also determined that I could not raise 10,000 broiler birds on my 3  acres of pasture.  10,000 was an arbitrary financial number that I made up  with my calculator.  How many I can actually raise is still to be  determined.  Even though this is ALR land we live on, I still need to keep  my neighbors happy and most importantly I do not need to pollute our  environment any further.  So my field will have a maximum healthy yield that  it can handle.  What that yield is, is still to be discovered.

Last year we started with 52 broiler chicks and 11 turkeys. We  successfully raised and processed 46 broiler chickens and 5 turkeys.   Those  numbers seem quite small in retrospect but to get even there was quite a  task.  This year we are starting with 152 broiler chickens and 21 turkeys.  So far 4 chicks have died and that is all.

One very positive element.  The BC government has altered the meat  regulations for the better.  In the past 6 months here on the Sunshine Coast  and other rural areas of BC the concept of small scale open air processing  has been accepted.

I am one of a dozen small farms on the coast that are applying to become  Class D or E processing facility.   I need to submit a plan and display a  system to go from live animal to the freezer.  This includes: culling,  processing, composting of left over bits and mortalities. My farm must show  a safe water source is used and last but not least display control over  bacteria and contamination of the meat as well as the land and surrounding  waters.

The authorities recognize that open air processing for small scale  operations is in many ways better than enclosures if properly administered.    With that in mind the Ministry of Health decided to assist and guide small  scale farmers in providing local food.   This legislative change of heart  came about because many people others like myself made a stink.  This  agitation along with MLA's like Nicholas Simons and Corky Evans presented  our case to the legislature, and they seemed to listen.  Either that or late  in the night guys in black masks will come and all of us will simply  disappear.

Once all of the basic areas of concern are met I will be legal to  sell my meat farm gate or to local restaurants & groceries.  I am only legal  to sell to my local market.  I cannot take my meat to Vancouver and sell it  there.  The restriction lies in the fact that we do not have a class A  processing facility available to us.   To be economically viable we must do  our own processing.  In the big picture this is way better.  Yes I and  others must kill, gut, cool and freeze our livestock but that is the reality  of eating meat.  I fully respect people who choose not to eat meat.  Some  days I question it myself.  In the meantime if I am to eat meat I  as a  member of society must become more related to my food.  Hopefully in the  process I can also make a living, or at least a partial living.

I am a week away from my broiler chickens going into the field.  This  means they will live in moveable pens for the duration of their lives.  This  time frame will be for the next 6 weeks.  During this time they forage the  ground, live in fresh air and sunshine.  Putting them in the field toughens  them up.  Like us if we are kept inside with a temperately controlled  environment we become soft and semi healthy.  Stick us out in the elements  and we become durable.  Our system toughens up and we become way healthier.   That in a nut shell is the philosophy.

So my to-do list is as follows: cut the field grass,  re and re the  pens for chicks, build a compost for entrails and morts, purchase remaining  gear needed for processing.  I will have my inspection some time mid July  from the Ministry of Health.