Pick-A-Chick
6444 Adair Road
Moorpark
662-3251
$7-$30

I have always been somewhat disillusioned about where food comes from. As my son always says, “Food comes from the store.” I mean, it’s pretty easy to dissociate yourself from what you eat and how it got to your plate. But who really wants to think about that? I have seen the PETA videos, and while I have considered becoming a vegetarian, after visiting Pick-A-Chick in Somis, I feel there is a better alternative than to deprive myself of tasty, nutritious meat — especially chicken.

Most, if not all, vegetarians will tell you that the reason they don’t eat meat is because of a personal conviction — that people don’t need to kill animals to survive. Celebrity vegetarians such as Pamela Anderson and Janet Jackson would have you believe that all animals raised for food are raised in unruly conditions, not being given a chance to live any kind of a normal, pleasant life. Well, husband and wife Suzie and Tom Mosely, owners of Pick-A-Chick, want to show you that eating and enjoying meat is a natural part of life and their chickens don’t mind being a part of the food chain.

I had heard some interesting stories about this farm-style eatery. While I recently started my own garden, wanting to take part in the whole process of getting the food from the farm to the table, I hadn’t really thought about picking out my own chicken, and then having it killed right in front of me to bring home to roast the same night. But many of my friends and colleagues have already made the trip out to the backcountry of Somis, where the Moselys’ farm is, and say they can’t wait to go back.

“It is the freshest chicken I have ever tasted,” says my friend Sheila. “And now that I know these chickens get to roam acres of open space and eat only oats and fresh corn, I don’t feel so bad about eating them. They’ve had a pretty good life before they end up on my table.”

Suzie says it is a rather strange phenomenon when a customer comes to pick out a chicken for dinner. When a customer goes out into the field, several of the chickens will lie down.

“It’s almost like they know their time is up,” she says. “By making themselves so vulnerable, I can only assume they know they are a part of the food chain.”

This makes everyone’s life easier — especially the chicken’s. Tom says that, every once in a while, no chickens are ready to lie down so he and his wife have to chase after the chickens until a couple of them run out of breath and pass out.

“It really spooks some children when they come with their parents to pick their chicken,” Tom says. “But everything happens so fast that it doesn’t bother them for long, especially when they get to taste that juicy chicken for dinner.”
My son and I made a trip up there last weekend. The farm was just lovely, with the farmhouse painted in bright reds and yellows. The hills were green from the heavy rains, and the chickens — my god, chickens were everywhere. And the stench was terrible. But when we met the Moselys, their upbeat and kind nature made all the less-than-desirable aspects disappear.

The Moselys took us on a tour of the farm and into their ranch-style store, where I bought a tasty, homemade lemon-garlic marinade for dinner that night. Suzie gave my son and me rubber galoshes so we wouldn’t get our shoes messed up from the chicken poop on the ground.

She led us to a huge field where thousands of chickens were clucking, picking at grass and bugs, and some of them were even trying to mate. My son started looking around for a chicken and saw a robust brown chicken. It looked like it weighed 10 pounds. Suzie told me their chickens are huge because they don’t have them cooped up in cages so they get a lot of exercise, building their bulk.

Suzie had us raise our hands in the sky and yell out, “Time for dinner!” and wouldn’t you know it, that chicken fell right over! Suzie went and picked it up and brought it over to us. My son got a little upset as the chicken clucked and seemed to enjoy being pet. But I distracted him when I heard his tummy grumble. I asked him, “Chicken nuggets tonight or vegetables?” He said, “Chicken nuggets, Mommy.”

Suzie took the chicken inside the old barn and poof! Feathers were flying everywhere. It was not pretty — my son even cried a little. But once all the feathers were pulled off and he got to keep some of them for his arts and crafts project, he started feeling better.

That night, we had the tastiest chicken ever. The marinade and the big, firm chicken made us hungry for more. We look forward to another trip to Pick-A-Chick.   

 This story is one of many in our April Fool’s Day package this week.