Chicken Plucker

I’m not trying to be round-about crude with that title.  One of my friends runs an organic farm on my parents’ property.  She raises chickens for meat.  It’s nice to know where your meat comes from, but on the other hand, these birds are part of the green revolution- the creativity on the part of scientists (and used by farmers and pretty much anybody who eats) that has reduced biodiversity in America and elsewhere.  They created modified organisms to fit specific needs, and no longer are as many varieties of seeds or animals commercially available for cultivation.  There was a recent article in National Geographic on the issue of seed and food biodiversity in cultivation which talks about this very trend.  It’s titled Food Ark.  Just like the Welsh pig in this article, my friend’s chickens are bred to put on weight, put on weight fast, and not move a whole lot.  They have a pretty good life outdoors in a moving pen here in VT, but they are not exactly what I would consider “normal”.  My point is, all of the creativity of scientists in the green revolution has led to some ease and increased production (and larger products), but there have been a ton of downsides to this type of production.  Many factors were not taken into consideration, sustainability (in a number of ways) being up near the top of the list.  For instance, the cost of production for a farmer may be reduced per acreage, but the toll that these farming practices take on the land and on our health are almost immeasurable.  With fuel prices rising, the cost of food production and food transportation (to our plates) increases greatly, and many people are now wondering what happened to those more local farms (from which they could buy food without the added cost of transportation).  The green revolution favored those larger and remote farms, and weeded out (pardon the pun) the local and smaller growers.

On the other hand, our creativity has not totally gotten the best of us in this situation.  Many people have spotted the error in our one-track creative process ways (which may have been more of a critical process since there were specific end goals in mind that led to the development of many technologies and GMOs).  While there must be a variety of solutions, many people are just committing to the hard work of starting their own local farms to insulate their communities against the dangers of fully relying on GMOs and non-local food sources (dangers like floods in the Midwest, or like obesity from eating so much freaking corn and processed products).  My friend would be lumped into that category, but she also has to constantly be creative on a daily basis in her work.  She is a Spanish teacher full-time during the school year, and then starts planting in the spring and harvesting and replanting all summer long.  She constantly uses creative thinking processes to find solutions to little issues.  One such issue was that it was pretty cold this spring and she wanted to plant.  Of course, she thought about starting seeds inside, but then decided that would not be the best solution, and decided to build a small hoophouse instead (which she had to use a variety of materials to build in a somewhat unconventional way).

Back to the chickens- she and another friend devised a “chicken plucker” in order to pluck the chickens after slaughtering them.  Plucking is not easy, and to rent a portable plucker or to take her chickens to a plucker would have been costly and time consuming.  Instead, they came up with this incredibly functional device:

I think that is a creative mind(s) at work!  To be able to use some common materials to create a relatively cheap chicken plucker is to think both creatively and critically.  I know she is a very artistically creative person, as she loves to arrange flowers, paint, sing, play guitar, etc.  I also know some of her creative thinking occurs in brainstorming with others, trial and error, and in using ideas that she reads about.  Possibly some of her suspension of judgment in her creative process comes from drinking an adequate amount of beer (as you see in the photo) while working.  On the other hand, if there is a specific end-goal in mind, is it creative thinking, or just problem-solving?

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