Over the past couple of years Kate and I have been all over the United States. Whether by bicycle or by car, we never stayed in one place for two long. Our spirit of adventure is a strong as ever, it just has taken on a different form.
We are crazy excited to be starting a family! As with any new adventure, it has changed the path we are choosing to take, and steering the directions we are taking our passions.
Starting a Chicken Farm
With riding our bicycles 5,500 miles across the country visiting family farms of all kinds, it is not surprising that we developed a real passion for sustainable food production. With out apprenticeship at Devon Point Farm complete, we felt confident with tackling an agricultural venture of our own.
With the desire to start a farm, a baby on the way, and a new set of goals to achieve we decided on a place to call home for a while. That place is New Milford, CT. Our town is on the Western side of Connecticut, close to the border with New York. There we are renting a one bedroom apartment as we settle into a more stationary life.
I have partnered up with a few other local farmers to get established in my first year of farming on my own. Curtis Eck, a local hay and grain farmer is working with me to have my chickens live on his pastures in between his cuttings of hay. My birds will get to enjoy all the grass and insects that are attracted by the hay fields, and his fields will enjoy the fresh fertilizer that my chickens leave behind. A win win.
Since I am starting a Chicken and Herb CSA I needed a drop off point where CSA members could pick up their fresh birds. Since I will be working with Curtis who has over 400 acres, I needed to pick just one spot. Another local farm offered up a great opportunity, and I will be working with them. White Silo Winery in Sherman, CT (less than 10 minutes from my apartment) makes some of the best wines I have tasted. They not only make wine from the grapes they grow, but from their raspberries, blackberries, rhubarb, and black currants. The owner Ralph has a wonderful pallet, which is evident in his wines. They are going to let me have my CSA pick-up at the winery on Fridays. I will have the beautiful backdrop of a charming Connecticut winery to hand out the chickens to my members.
I may even have built my network a little further as of yesterday. I have been driving around talking with other farms, nursery owners, farm store owners (like Tractor Supply Company, and Agway), and anyone else who wants to talk farming for a minute. I met a nursery owner who might have some green house space I can use to start my herbs this spring. Greenhouses can run up into the thousands of dollars, and I don’t need a ton of space at first. He could save me a large capitol investment as I get established. As you may have heard, no one gets rich farming, so every little bit helps.
If it “takes a village to raise a child” then it certainly takes a similar community to start a farm. My hope is that the work I am doing to help educate more people, along with the hundreds of others like me, will make it easier for future generations to successfully make the choice to start a farm.
Kate has gotten full time employment in one of the local schools. She will be working there and helping me with the farm until the baby comes. When that time comes, wow, it’s going to be crazy around here.
What’s in store for the future?
This year I will continue with my photo updates on the blog. I loved sharing our farm experience that way, and I know a lot of people really enjoyed the photos. FoodCyclist.com is now my farm website as well as the blog that follows our journeys. Since my farm is centered around chicken herbs, I will be posting information about the benefits of pasture-raised meats, recipe ideas that you can make use of whether you buy from my farm or not, as well as some insights into farming.
It certainly has been an adventure so far pursuing the dream of starting a farm of my own. There is a lot more than just planting and weeding.