There certainly is a lot involved with starting a farm. Mine is no different! Winter is coming to an end, spring is only days away, and the sun is showing her bright face more and more as the days go on. Let me tell you, I am psyched!
It seems that I always manage to keep myself exceptionally busy. This year is certainly the busiest I have ever felt in my life. It’s a good busy, a rewarding busy. Farming is as much a lifestyle as it is a job. Whether you run a chicken farm, an herb farm, a vegetable farm, or any kind of farm. You do this because you love it. That’s me, in love with farming.
For those of you new to the blog, in particular my new CSA member, welcome! I have enjoyed sharing my experiences through the years on this website, and I plan on continuing that through this year and the years to come. You’ll catch on to my format pretty quickly. I love to take photographs. That way you can choose whether to read through everything I write, or if I drone on, like I am dong right now, you can skim the pictures and get a version of the story that way.
Starting a Chicken Farm
There is a significant amount of things to do before the chickens actually get here. I’ll spare you the details on the business side of things. I talk about that on my farm podcast. And that content is a little dry for this website. What I would like to share is one of the places the chickens will living, as well as a sneak peak at what they will be living in.
There are three fenced in areas. When the horses are in #1, the chickens will be in #3. When the horses move to #2 the chickens move to #1, and so on and so forth. This way the animals are separated and calm. The birds can scratch the horse droppings for bugs and larvae, and the pastures have time to rest a little. It is all clean and natural, just like a farm should operate. I try to create situations where everyone benefits.
The land there butts up against the Housatonic River. It is quiet, secluded, and peaceful. The drive there is a little tough on the shocks, given that it is a dirt road. But I drive an old beat-up SUV, so I make the trip just fine.
Because of the roughness of the road and the longer drive for some people, I have decided to work with White Silo Winery in Sherman, CT for my CSA pick-ups. That way there is good parking, easy road access, it is closer to town, it is beautiful there. The pick up will be Friday and there is always have the option to stop at the Winery for a wine-tasting. How’s that for a Friday? Pasture raised chicken and perhaps a bottle of vino. Who else offers a wine tasting at their CSA pick-up?
There are a LOT of predators in the area. Fox, hawks, eagles, coyotes, weasels, and even a bear. There are a ton of ways for the birds to meet their end (besides me). These cages ensure the birds are safe from all manner of predators. That being said, some losses may happen. It’s deeply upsetting to me when they do, but that comes with being a farmer.
I tried a couple designs when researching how the birds were going to live this year. I finally settled on this design for a number of reasons. It is nicer to work with than some other designs. The birds have more room. It is easier for me to get in and out. Also, this doubles as a cold-frame for season extension at the beginning and end of the season. I can stretch greenhouse plastic over the top and use it as a little movable growing area.
Starting an Herb Farm
I am not all about chickens at FoodCyclist Farm. I am growing culinary herbs this year as well. I like to use fresh herbs when I am cooking, and I want to offer that opportunity to others as well. Paired with the weekly chicken of the chicken CSA there will be a small bunch of herbs to compliment your roaster. I will have recipes to share as well to give members (and anyone online cooking chicken) ideas for what to do.
I intend to grow a limited number of vegetables as well. These will be for me and Kate, as well as some friends and family. If I can grow enough, I will bring them to the CSA pick-up as well. No promises there. Irrigation is still a bit of a question for me.
Kate and I are excited for this year! As we are excited for every year. Very happy to have you with us as we embark on our farming adventure in New Milford. I am hoping that I still get to do some bike riding this year. The farm is bike-able from our apartment which is great.
To incorporate craft beer into our farming efforts, I have been researching recipes that include beer. The obvious being “beer can chicken”.