Category Archives: free range

Chickens

I just realized that I don’t talk much about what goes on around here with our chickens. They are our staple animal. They provide most of the funds that keep me going.

To give a bit of a background story, when we first started on re-establishing the farm we started with one jersey steer that was given to us to raise for our own food. A few weeks later, Mr. Farmer and I were discussing eggs and chickens. He missed farm fresh eggs and I love having chickens around so we decided to order a batch of 12 birds. Six each of Barred Rocks (which I like) and Rhode Island Red (which Mr. Farmer wanted).

Baby Chicken Chick, Three Days old

The week they came into the local farm supply store (locally owned and operated/not a chain store), we were called in to come pick them up. Mr. Farmer decided to stop on his way home from work, which is just about closing time for the store. When he got there, they had our 12 birds plus another 11 birds that hadn’t been picked up. So…they offered them to Mr. Farmer at a discounted rate. Needless to say, we ended up with nearly twice as many birds as I anticipated.

After about five months, they started laying eggs. At that time, we were eating eggs all the time and had no customers to buy any of the extras. In a months time frame, we would have almost 20 dozen extra eggs!!! We sat and discussed what we could do with the eggs. Donating them to the food bank sounded like I really good idea.

That is until we were told that the eggs had to be USDA certified! I wasn’t going to do that to donate eggs. So, we thought some more on what to do with them. Then as we were thinking about what to do on Saturday, it hit us. During winter time, the local Christian church that the whole family attends does a free will breakfast the first Saturday of every month. We contacted the Pastor and asked if we could donate the eggs to them and they gladly accepted! We provided 1/2 the eggs they needed for the breakfast every month from December to April. It didn’t help pay the bills, but it sure felt good to help out the church and the local community!

Farm Fresh Brown Eggs

Once April arrived, the eggs started to accumulate again! There were seven dozen in the fridge the day we met the new neighbors that had just purchased Mr. Farmer’s parents old house! They were excited to learn that we had animals, including the chickens and started purchasing seven dozen eggs per week! They have a family of five and almost always have eggs for breakfast! As they say, the Lord works in mysterious ways!

We also started selling to another neighbor up the road and then in May, Mr. Farmer’s folks pulled back in with their camper! Now WE were running short on eggs! Not a single one left at the weeks end. We sold the eggs for $2.00/dozen. We have also had people telling us that these are some of the best eggs they have ever had.

No one can seem to understand the importance of good food, clean barns and happy chickens. You can’t have happy chickens without them being able to do what they like to do. My chickens are not penned or fastened in (unless the temperatures outside are extremely cold). They are allowed to run around all over. They dig and scratch. They spread out manure piles from the cows picking out left over grains and any bugs that may come around the pile. They dig up other bugs out of the grass and worms when they can find them. They have free choice food and water. I offer them a custom mixed scratch grain depending on the time of year in the mornings. They now get the whey from cheese making too! And they love that!

A relaxed, curious chicken

Back to the story….

In April, we also had Belle arrive that year along with two calves and we got another calf from the auction barn (for $4.07, seems wrong but that’s what we paid). Belle allowed them all to nurse while we slammed her on the grain, good hay and all the pasture grass she could eat. Those chickens and their eggs provided us with enough money to keep the cows in hay and grain! Those eggs also paid for the chicken feed and the winter hay we ended up buying in that year for five cows and calves.

Our little herd of birds has grown now to 47 laying hens! Right now, we have five dozen eggs in the fridge…but with the holidays upon us, I don’t think we will have an issue getting rid of them!

Snowy Days

I have to tell you that I absolutely LOVE the snow! I love the flakes when they start to fall. I love the snow covered ground. I love how it makes the world look.

Yeah, the frozen pipes are a pain….But to get over it, just step outside and look around! Everything is covered in a blanket of white, glittering like diamonds in the sun.

This IS my favorite time of the year and another one of the reasons why, if for some unforeseen reason, if I ever have to move….I want to go where they have seasons, mostly for the snow!

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Ag Stats

Yesterday provided me with two seperate opportunities to discuss agriculture within my region. The first meeting I attended yesterday morning was a Tioga SET (Sustainable Economies Together) that is focusing on increasing bioenergy awareness and development within the Southern Tier Region of NY. During the meeting, our major focus for this month was demographic, statistical trends and how trends could change through the development of bioenergy within the region.
One attendee made a comment that within the Ag Statistics, he felt that the farms with an annual sale of less than $10,000 should be dropped off the list because they are considered hobby farmers. I will admit, this did upset me greatly. I haven’t delved into my mind about the reasoning on exactly why it bothers me so much…so I am going to discuss it here.
I am one of those farmers that takes in less than 10K/year. Now, I don’t work any less on each individual animal than a farm that makes 500k/year. If anything I think I am more concerned about animal well-being, how my crops grow, how clean my barns are…the list goes on and on. What other reasons concern me about this? According to the NY State overall Ag Stats, this makes up a fair percentage of our farms. Then the rebuttle I recieved when asking what the real issue was over not including those farms, I recieved the following answer: Because they are not really contributing to the over food supply chain within the state. If those farms weren’t factored for Ag Stats, they wouldn’t recieve tax deductions and would have to pay tax on all the goods they buy.
Now, that develops into a whole different issue for me. As a land owner that pays 26% or more of the land value for taxes every year (grand total is 140/WEEK), I would atleast like to be able make enough “farm sales” to be able to pay for my taxes every year. I don’t consider myself a hobby farmer. I consider our farm part time employment! Two hours every morning and night equals four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year….more hours and devotion than someone flipping burgers at McD’s. Now considerating just those hours contributed, wouldn’t I still be qualified as a worker in agriculture?
Now, taking a step back and accessing this from the bioenergy sector…I personally think that these farms are the ones that could contribute the most. I think they are much more capabile of diversity too. Flexibility in agriculture is growing in importance due to the swinging shifts in Ag Markets. It makes each farm less dependant upon just the price of corn or hay.

Now let’s consider this…in Chemung County says there are 116 farms with less than $1000/year in annual sales. My mind tells me that these are probably farms that produce seasonal products for local farmers markets or they are selling something like eggs directly off the farm.

Extending that out to my afternoon, I attended the Local Food, Fiber and Fuel Event at Cornell University’s Mann Library. There were vendors that produced hydroponic fruits turned into jellies and jams, a weaver that made socks/hats/sweaters/gloves from alpaca fur, local vegetable producers and even local organizations that assist agriculture. Our both was set up to discuss how Ag and biomass can work together for alternative energy. While there, I started circulating through the tables and held conversations with each table about Ag Marketing and NY Agriculture. Not one person could tell me when they last time they saw any type of advertisments supporting NY Ag. This is one of my major concerns and issues. There is no development to educate the public about what products are produced throughout the whole state. Yes, the wine manufacturers have done a fair job of promoting their products…but yet, there are still limited advertisments or write ups across the state.
No one seems to know where advertising money for NY Ag comes from or where it could even be established. My growing concern is that one of the major players that should be promoting NY Ag states, “Even if every available acres was planted, it could still only supply 30% of the food requirements for NY.” I ask you to consider this, NY Ag also supports the major city zone around NYC. I am not saying they aren’t part of the states population but do they really factor in under the Local food supply chain for the Northern District of NY, which is about 8 hours away? Or even my local food market when NYC is a four hour drive? I am going to start breaking the state down by region and the amount of food “stuff” that could be supplied within those regions. More will follow up on this topic over the next couple of days!

Feel free to comment or add your input, it is extremely valuable knowledge as I move forward in developing some type of consideration advertising for AG in any area.

Summer’s Gone and So Is Fall

Well, the title about sums it up! Hard to believe that we are into November already! We still haven’t completed the addition on the barn either and I am sure that snow isn’t too far out in the forecast!

This fall turned into a slow brewing nightmare. Corn harvest still isn’t done on some of the fields because they are just too wet! Nothing like trying to get a chopper into a mud pit! Only got stuck once with the tractor but that was definately more than needed to happen.

Trying to keep up with harvest while building a ten foot addition down the full 72 foot length of our barn has not worked out so well. We got the poles in the ground, the roofing on and a new water system put in but that’s about the extent of what we have managed to complete so far.

Our herd has expanded yet again too! We now have three calves here. One bull calf that already has a group of girls to spend next summer at pasture with and two lineback/jersey cross heifers! Along with those three additions, there have also been three Dexter cattle added to our mix! I will post photos in our photo page as soon as I get some time. Our jersey rescue cow is looking good and we are awaiting the arrival of her calf! The vet was WAY off his estimates when he preg checked her…by nearly two and a half months!!!! We have been anxiously waiting too…mostly because it will be the first calf born on the farm in 25 years!!!!

Two of our steers went to the butcher shop last weekend…I miss them but I do like to eat. They were well cared for when they were here and raised with the intention that they also had a purpose.

Our young group of chickens are doing well. They have moved into a temporary hut shelter until the barn addition is completed and they are loving their barn yard! A few have started laying eggs but we still are not keeping up with the local demand for our eggs! We are selling around 15 dozen eggs a week now!!!! Everyone who buys from us keeps telling us that these are the best eggs they have ever had! Makes me happy to know that how we treat our animals here shows through!

I (Doreen) have been working more on spending time doing social media things too. Sometimes it is difficult to keep up with a new business, a farm (which really is another business) and just life in general. You can find our facebook page for the biomass happenings at and on twitter! I have my own account through twitter too…CNYFarmGirl! I know I am not as informative or as busy within the ag industry as some others are…but I do ask some good questions and have some thoughts about things on ag.
Right now, one of my newest questions: Are cows better off today with regard to animal welfare than they were 20 yr ago? Please give reasons on why or why not.
I am gonna talk more about that very soon! Hope everyone has a great day…time for me to head back to the barn!

Inspiration Number Ten-Stress Reduction

To me, having a farm means less stress…well, maybe the same about of stress, just a different variety. Having worked in sales and marketing for nearly 20 years and then working construction for a handful in there, farming brings a completely different aspect to my life. A place to escape……
When I get stressed out too much from work overload, I go sit in the pasture with the cows.

Davy, when he was young, greating me and wondering what I am doing.

When I just get sick of dealing with people and all of their drama, I go sit with the chickens and watch them dig and scratch around the yard.
Barred Rock hen digging for bugs and worms

When I just get tired of everything, I go hang out in the barn. When I get agrevatiated or too upset, I just spend hours outside around the animals.
Relaxation Time in the Barn

Sometimes, I think it would be better for me to just live in the barn and not have phones, cell phones and computers…to live the “old way” of life. To have no electricity. When running water meant having to use the pump. When you went to the basement to pull root vegetables out. When ice was delivered during the winter months to keep our “ice boxes” cold during the warm summer months. To use horses to plow. All of that sounds like heaven to me.

Inspiration Number Six-Teaching Children

Well since the last one was a big toss up between quiet times and when there is a flurry of activity. Today, I will talk and show the flurry of activity.
My number six inspiration for being a farmer is to pass down what has been taught to me. To be able to work with kids to show them that farming is hard work but, with the right temperment it is extremely rewarding. Farming also teaches us all valuable lessons in where our food comes from and what goes into that food.

One of the neighborhood kids petting "Big Momma"

Fresh corn off the cob for the birds on the farm
Learning about how tall corn grows and how it's harvested

Talking Turkey with three farm visitors

Our daughter and son-in-law are even doing what they can to pass the farm legacy on.
Our granddaughter and her first calf

Each and everyone of us that farms knows that it takes lessons to learn and grow to love what farming can do for an individual. In my prespective, every kid we show increases the chances of the future of agriculture on the family farm sized scale. We listen to our president all the time talk about how important an education is to the youth of today. Why not work with a kid, teach them valuable lessons so they can provide for themselves and spark their imagination and dreams in ways we may never be able to understand.
If you are in my area and would like to bring your children for a hands on visit to the farm, please contact me to set up an appointment. We NEVER charge and if you ask nicely, you might even get a farm fresh breakfast with most of the items provided directly from our farm!

Inspiration Day Three-Animal Antics

Day Three of what inspires me about farming: Animal antics!

Cows have personalities too
Turkeys who love to get up on anything
The blood hound who thinks she is a pointer and herder
Young Hen waiting on the porch railing for her "treats"
The "girls" waiting for the tractor to move out of the freshly plowed field