Published March 1st 2016 by Avery
Hardcover, 336 pages
When Lucie Amundsen had a rare night out with her husband, she never imagined what he’d tell her over dinner—that his dream was to quit his office job (with benefits!) and start a commercial-scale pasture-raised egg farm. His entire agricultural experience consisted of raising five backyard hens, none of whom had yet laid a single egg.
To create this pastured poultry ranch, the couple scrambles to acquire nearly two thousand chickens—all named Lola. These hens, purchased commercially, arrive bereft of basic chicken-y instincts, such as the evening urge to roost. The newbie farmers also deal with their own shortcomings, making for a failed inspection and intense struggles to keep livestock alive (much less laying) during a brutal winter. But with a heavy dose of humor, they learn to negotiate the highly stressed no-man’s-land known as Middle Agriculture. Amundsen sees firsthand how these midsized farms, situated between small-scale operations and mammoth factory farms, are vital to rebuilding America’s local food system.
With an unexpected passion for this dubious enterprise, Amundsen shares a messy, wry, and entirely educational story of the unforeseen payoffs (and frequent pitfalls) of one couple’s ag adventure—and many, many hours spent wrangling chickens.
Let me say I am firmly a city girl. We sold my car, we take the el, we walk to the grocery, and we walk to school. I may have shrieked when I had to pick up a baby chick for my daughter at the petting zoo last year. Maybe. Why I thought I should read a book about a chicken farm I really don’t know – but let me tell you I am so glad that I did! I enjoyed it so much that along with Avery I’m giving away a copy – so read all the way down!
Lucie tells a great story of how her husband convinced her to go from a small backyard flock of 5 egg laying chickens to owning thousands on a rented Minnesota farm. She was not an easy sell (I don’t blame her). I enjoyed reading about their small triumphs and was frustrated at the bureaucracies and stumbling blocks on the way to production. Locally Laid is a labor of love for Lucie’s family and that shines through their story.
Lucie talked not just about her own story but how the industry has changed over decades and how poultry is treated. She pointed out that most of the egg laying birds in this country NEVER GO OUTSIDE. In their whole lives – how scary is that? So aside from an entertaining personal story, Lucie got me thinking about where my food comes from and why buying local food is important. It’s scary to think about all the mileage behind some of the food we eat!
I may not be a farmer, but I do live in the Midwest and I love it here. This was an eye opening read for me about small agriculture vs. middle vs the giant ag corporations out there. I think as things like genetically modified crops become more common and water and land run out these are really important things to think about and talk about. I even put my money where my mouth is and tried a dozen LoLa eggs this weekend – they were delicious! I’m very curious to follow Locally Laid and see how they do – and I am seriously tempted to order a t-shirt. In the meantime I’m going to think a lot harder when I shop and I’m going to be counting down until it’s CSA and Farmer’s Market season in Chicago!
Do you want to read Lucie’s story? I’m giving away one copy of Locally Laid and a fun LoLa button. Here is a Rafflecopter link to the giveaway. Must be US based and no spam giveaway accounts!
Don’t you want to get Locally Laid?