Home / Slow Food / Farm Update / FoodCyclist Farm packs up chicken tractors and moves locations
Published on July 3, 2013, by in Farm Update, Farms.

Just when I thought life could not get any crazier, I went and made a huge decision. I am going to move my whole farm to a new location in a different town. In the short term life is indeed crazy, but the long term picture looks less stressful and full of opportunity. Let me explain.

The land that I started on was a great opportunity for me. I am eternally grateful to Curtis, the farmer who’s land it is, for the help and resources he has made available to me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him, and he definitely had a huge impact on how I got started. So thanks Curtis (though I know you won’t read this).

There were a number of factors that led to my decision to depart from the land I am on now, and move to “greener pastures”. You could say financial projections played a part. There is definitely a lot of pressure as a new Dad (any day now). However, that is not the root of my decision.

Following my passions

The FoodCyclist website and brand started because I chose to always pursue my passions in life. I wanted to shape my life around my passions, not my passions around my life. Kate and I have taken a lot of risks through the years, knocked a lot of things off our bucket list, and have no plans to stop. You only get one life, why not do what you love?

I love farming. For better or worse, haha. Though, it is not the only thing I am passionate about. Obviously Kate, my baby, my family, and my friends are at the top of the list, but I’m going to stick to the things that keep me busy, and hopefully pay a few bills. One of my other passions is craft beer. More and more of my CSA members are catching on to this, and frequently discussions about cooking chicken goes hand in hand with what beer to drink with it.

Though I love chickens, only being around big dumb meat birds takes a little of the flare out of farming. I needed egg laying birds in my life. To top it off, I was running my farm alone. All the work, all the toil, all the decisions were all mine. I like being around people, I wasn’t happy alone.

I could certainly continue as I was and have been quite happy. But I learned that when you see an opportunity to make a positive change in your life, you jump on it. Some times it works out, and sometimes it does not. That is the risk, but you never know if you do not try.

Finding like-minded people keeps your passions alive

When I moved to the area in January I was researching farms. Imagine my surprise that after years of being the “FoodCyclist” I found a farm close to home called “Food Cycle Farm”. In the vein of “there is no such thing as competition in farming” I got in touch with them and asked if I could be of any help.

We scheduled a meeting and I instantly knew I liked these people. Right after that I got tunnel vision making FoodCyclist Farm happen and didn’t speak with the folks at Food Cycle very much. (This FoodCyclist / Food Cycle thing is going to get confusing).

Fast forward a couple months. I heard that Food Cycle for one reason or another lost it’s farm manager, and was looking for help. I wasn’t sure at first, but I inquired into what they were looking for. It turns out they were looking to hire two people to manage the farm. One to concentrate on vegetables, and another to back the first guy up, do some marketing, and oversee operations and make sure all the elements of the farm play nice together. In short, I fit the bill perfectly. Bing bang boom, I’m in.

The fine folks at Food Cycle have the same dreams and the same ethics that I do. You will get to know them more as I update both my blog and theirs throughout the summer (I’ll share the links). For now know that I am super happy working with people on that same dream. That dream is outlined in brief below. Then I’ll get into the pictures.

Who/What is Food Cycle

I’ll let them tell you who they are in their words, then I’ll supplement with a few of my own to let you know where they stand.

Typical farm-to-table organizations seek to create a linear path, demarking a straight line to consumers. The Food Cycle is not a typical organization. We consist of several, interlocking businesses; currently, a farm, a distillery, and a brewery. In the very near future, we will scale ever upward. Our plans include a fine-dining restaurant, a casual eatery, and a small inn near the farm. Each interlocking business contributes outputs to and receives inputs from the rest of the organization, making it stronger, more sustainable, and as energy efficient as possible.

We love food that makes our taste buds sing, we love drinks that incite and inspire, and we love feeling good about the choices we make. The Food Cycle is a group of enthusiastic folks looking to create the tastiest, most flavorful produce, beer, and spirits imaginable, while maintaining an intimate connection with the earth.

Everyone participating in the Food Cycle has exacting standards; our ability to control and monitor our ingredients, production techniques, and supply chain allows us to create the highest-quality products possible. Our chickens are inquisitive, our beers are rich and malty, our spirits will fill you with warmth.

That’s quite impressive! Lots of plans. This is their second year building up the farm and it looks amazing there. They have cleared and cleaned a lot of land, put in hop poles and planted a hop yard, a newly planted apple orchard, several mobile chicken coops with pasture-raised eggs, two greenhouses, several buildings, and a boat load of passion for what they are doing.

With all the land they have my chicken tractors fit in quite easily. The deal is I get to keep my business and run it off their land, while working for them on the farm. It’s the perfect scenario for me. I get to work with great people, be a part of a new brewery, increase the amount and the type of chickens I get to take care of, and I get a little more stability and security in life.

I think 1,000 words might be good enough for now. It’s currently getting late and I am waking up around 4a.m. for my processing day tomorrow. I am about 50% moved on to the new farm and working from essentially three locations makes for a lot of driving and longer days. Thanks for taking the time to read, and enjoy some of the visuals.

chickens talking to chicks on the poultry farm

Only the youngest birds made the move to the new farm. The older birds would have had more trouble with the commute, so I am waiting to leave 100% until the older chickens have been made into dinner. Here the young guys and gals excitedly discuss their future home on Food Cycle Farm.

moving chicken tractors to new farm-7184

Here is the first field my chicken tractors will be on. The grass was mowed before I got there but it is growing up fast now. The little birds don’t eat as much as the big guys and the big guys are still back on the long grass. This grass is full of clover which is high in protein. The younger the chicks are the more protein they need so this is perfect. In the background you can see the corner of the hop yard, a chicken mobile with mobile fencing, and one of the greenhouses.

moving chicken tractors to new farm-7186

The little chickens are loving their new surroundings. It is always a good day for me when I get to move them from the brooder to pasture. The fact that it is on a new farm means nothing to the birds, but it makes me happy. Everyone made the trip just fine.

chicken tractors on grass

I still move them every day. They are already leaving their mark on the new farm. I cannot wait to see the effect of their manure on the grass. It goes with the whole Food Cycle philosophy, the chickens feed the ground, which will feed more chickens, and the chickens then feed us. The healthy grass also sequesters carbon and makes the air cleaner. The list goes on, long story short, it’s a good thing.

growing hops

There is a new hop yard just put in this year. It still needs cables put up but that hasn’t stopped the hops from growing. We’re going to run the chicken tractors between the rows to add some natural fertilizer. It really is pretty there. I am excited for the beer that is going to be brewed with these hops. The head brewer, Dan, really knows his craft. I have sampled their beer, and I can tell you, I wouldn’t have agreed to all this if the beer wasn’t amazing. They’re still waiting on some licenses but should be selling beer by 2014 (don’t quote me on that).

chicken mobiles through hop yard

Through the hop yard you can see the chicken mobiles where they have the egg laying chickens. They have large sections of pasture fenced in against predators. I’ll have more photos of them as time goes on. Right now I am running back and forth between the two farms and my time is limited. Looking forward to being in one place.

green house

These two monster green houses are a welcome sight. After all the trouble that I had starting plants this year, next year will be a cinch. I don’t know 100% what the plans are for the green houses. We’ll see what happens. A lot going on, and everywhere a lot of potential.

chicken mobile tractor

I know I trusted these guys when I saw that their chickens were as happy as mine. This was during the hot part of the day and most of the birds were taking shelter in the shade under the chicken mobile. This mobile fencing that they designed works pretty great. Two guys can move it in minutes, and it keeps all the chickens in. Hopefully all the predators out.

moving chicken tractors to new farm-7193

At the end of the day what I was most worried about was my chickens being happy. Well, they’re happy, and so am I. I don’t know how I keep finding these great opportunities in life. Maybe it’s that the more good you put out into the world the more you get back. Maybe I am just lucky. I don’t know what the future will bring, but it can’t be that bad. I’m going to be a dad in another week or two, and that is the most exciting thing of all.