We make our way to Ann’s brother Randy’s place in Floyd, Virginia. He’s working part time on a friend’s farm, and we offer to spend a morning “helping” so we get to gawk at all the stuff going on here. Our first job is to head down the hill and feed the hogs. Randy shows us the bait and switch trick necessary to get them away from the feeder long enough to fill it.
Next we collect eggs. There are three groups of hen communities separated by age: young’uns are called pullets, regular hens, and geezers (my term). They don’t seem to care about losing their eggs, but that doesn’t stop them from getting in the way. I find they like to peck at my pant legs while I help fill two five gallon buckets with eggs.
Before heading back with the eggs we check in on the baby bunnies.
Ann stays to help clean eggs while I stay with Randy to move birds. Chickens, turkeys, and ducks all live in fenced sections of pasture that are moved about every week and a half. We drag fences, trying to keep birds from escaping, to a new outline that Cedric mows with the tractor. While we drag the fence he pulls the birds’ “house” behind the tractor to the new pasture. Finally we arrange the feeders and water containers in the new pasture. This job takes us a few hours.
By this time the chickens have laid more eggs and need to be fed, so we do that before stopping for a lunch of fresh bread, pesto, and eggs (for the non-vegans). The morning gives me a feeling of harmony between people, land, and animals that I’m sure would overcome my veganism if I lived here. I don’t give up my diet today, but I leave feeling glad to know that places like Weathertop Farm exist as an alternative to factory farms.