When I heard there was a free range chicken farm nearby that sold eggs, I immediately got on google maps to find the way to Armstrong Farm. The first day I drove around for 2-1/2 hours without hearing one cock-a-doodle-do. While a lovely drive on the Gold Coast of Long Island on a pretty Spring day, I wouldn’t admit defeat in my quest for healthier eating. I set out the next day and learned that the trick is to go down the road that says “Private Road.” In Lattingtown, there’s lots of those.
In the general vicinity of the farm and after a short chat with a guy in a pickup, I v e r y s l o w l y rolled into the farm. Immediately I saw that these chickens were not only free range, they had the run of the place. A flock of brown speckled birds came to greet me as I exited my car, probably wondering what took me so long.
With no humans in sight, the chickens seemed to inspect me while a handsome multi-colored rooster, with girlfriends following close behind, ran over to check out the visitor. I walked around, snapped pictures and enjoyed their freedom with them. I sat on a bench for a minute, thinking that this is the way to run a farm, not the cruel manner in which so many animals are forced to live.
Lately I have been buying more organic fruits and vegetables. Trying to live a better life for myself, my family and the animals that we consume, I’ve begun to intersperse my grocery shopping with trips to Whole Foods. What I like about them is that they have 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards:
Step 1: No crates, no cages.
Step 2: Enriched environment.
Step 3: Enhanced outdoor access.
Step 4: Pasture centered.
Step 5: Animal centered; all physical alterations prohibited.
Step 5+: Animal centered; entire life on same farm.
I learned from a flyer near the refrigerator that holds the eggs for sale, that the farm is home to 500 free range chickens who each lay 300 eggs per year. There are also 3 peacocks, 5 ring neck pheasants and a guinea hen. I don’t know what a guinea hen is, but I don’t see it, the pheasants or peacocks.
I purchased 2 dozen eggs, all huge and varying shades of brown. My mission complete, the hens cluck-a-clucked alongside me as I made my way back to the car. I gave a wave, said “Bye, chickens,” and swore I could hear them laughing at me, knowing I’d probably get lost on the way home.