For a long time we were determined not to have
livestock on the farm. We really wanted to be a
fruit and vegetable operation only. However, over
the last 2 - 3 years, we have seen a lot more bug
damage in our orchard than we had hoped for.
Common wisdom dictated that we either started
using harsher organic applications than we were
comfortable with OR we drop the organic
designation and start using conventional
pesticides. Neither of these were appealing to us,
so we opted for a third choice, incorporating
chickens into our farm. Chickens can be very
effective against ground vectors of insects and
can also demolish larvae in fruit drops. Organic
and GAP certification rules prohibit us from
using the chickens directly in the orchard, but
we will be placing flocks strategically around the
boundaries of the orchard where we think they
can be most effective at munching pesky bugs.
Our final decision to add chickens had a
number of clauses included. We wanted to be
sustainable, as chemical free as possible, for the
chickens to be pastured and to supplement with
non-GMO feed only. After looking at coops at a
number of farms that we visited, and seeing
manufactured strand board as the primary
building medium, we were very concerned over
the off-gassing of the materials and the general
chemical exposure. We looked around and
found a small, independent local mill that
could supply us rough sawn oak. It was a
win/win for chem free, low carbon footprint and
local business. It also holds up really well!
Some of our first batch of chickens
enjoying a scratch in the hay
Working on our first "test" chicken coop. This
will be used for young birds moving forward
Unfortunately, our kickstarter campaign was unsuccessful, however, we are
pleased to announce our own Community Funded Agriculture project!!
For the time being, we are focusing on egg production from our
flock. We may add meat production later, but we like to take
things one step at a time. We were fortunate to find
Nick's Organic
Farm
that sells their own on-farm produced organic, non-GMO
feed. Moving forward we plan to grow the flock to approximately
400 chickens for our farm. They will live in 2 coops, one on each
end of the orchard. Any electrical needs will be run from solar
collection and water needs will be at least supplemented through
rain water collection. We will have eggs at the markets this
season, in smaller amounts at first. We are looking forward to this
becoming an integrated part of the Blue Faerie Farm approach!
The new expandable coop nearing the end
of construction.