Today is the solstice. I’ve come in from feeding and watering (happy that it was warm enough not to require carrying water) Thought this photo was a good one to celebrate the end of the solar year and the beginning of a new one , a good time to set intentions for the next year. May 2015 be a good year for all.
It’s been a tough summer. The hens here of laying age slowed down in July and have only just started back up. That’s normal, but I wasn’t prepared for how much they slowed down! But thankfully, they’re laying again and the new group of pullets I’ve raised from day 1 are starting to lay, and the second new group will start in October! I’ve ordered more birds, that should start laying early next year—it takes 5-9 months for birds to mature to laying age.
A lot of you have told me that the eggs from Terembry Farm are the first farm eggs you’ve had that really taste different—and demand has really increased! So I wanted to note some aspects of our farm operation that may be different—even different from those who are currently saying they’re non –GMO (but without certification).
#1) The birds are raised here from 1 day old on certified non-GMO feed and they free-range on pasture that hasn’t had pesticides or herbicides or sludge (that’s a whole other issue) for 14 years.
#2) The birds get to free-range and they get a diverse diet—not just pasture. Chickens originated in the tropics; they flourish with a variety of plants and bugs to eat.
#3) Some time to live life. I know the trend is pastured broilers; raise them as chicks and kill them at 2 months. Maybe 3 months if they are lucky. That’s not my thing. The birds here will get a decent life for about 4 years, until they stop laying.
#4) Organic and non GMO grain is incredibly expensive. Each bird needs about ¼ pound per day. I use a high quality Non GMO Project certified grain that is also free of pesticides and herbicides.
#5) Gentle treatment. I grew up on a farm; watched my mother handle animals with ease and grace. They produced a lot under that kind of treatment. It’s the right thing to do.
Someone asked me why my eggs are different. I think it’s because of the reasons above, especially because I raise them from day 1. Some local farms buy 400 pullets just starting to lay and produce a ton of eggs that are “pastured” and “non-GMO”—because the birds have only recently been put on pasture. And it isn’t until they’re on that pasture that they are “non-GMO.” These practices are some of the reasons I made the decision to get certification.
Good treatment from day 1 means a lot.
Anyway, thanks to all of you out there who have been so patient—and thanks to you who have told me these eggs are the best you’ve had—that means I’m doing something right. And thanks, also, to all of you who have been so patient when I can’t meet demand.
Eggs are available for pre-order at North Stafford Farmer’s Market on Sundays, and also at the Frenchman’s Corner in Culpeper and Kickshaws Downtown Market in Fredericksburg.. firstname.lastname@example.org
Just picked a gallon of wild blackberries at the peak of ripeness, and there’s more to pick! Wild blackberries are getting rare these days, and here no synthetic pesticides or herbicides are used. Blackberries are biennial; I won’t cut these down but will allow the nice stands in the west fields to continue to grow.
The chickens are enjoying the greenery and the warm temperatures, and humans here are busy! It is the season to harvest, weed and replant for that late fall harvest and there never seems to be enough time or light in the day. Farming for market and for a CSA brings the need to make sure nature hits deadlines–and I’ve come to the conclusion that nature does not like to be on a clock. Plants will produce, chickens will lay–but all in their own time and season. Understanding the rhythms on a farm takes time and patience.
This native perennial plant was used by early Native Americans. Potted some up for those interested in medicinal plants. Highly tannic, this can be used as a styptic and as a gargle for sore throat. Tons of it growing this year in one of the back beds. Great article on its uses here: http://www.twolanelivin.com/medicinal-properties-of-wild-geranium/.
Our blue eggs aren’t dyed 🙂 The North Stafford Farmer’s market opens Sunday and we’ll be there with our Non-GMO Project verified eggs, and live herbs, too.
The busy season is here!
Photo of herbs in the greenhouse — finally a bit of warmth! About a half acre tilled for planting, just waiting on a bit more drying after the last round of snow.
We may have at least one more snowstorm, but tell that to the bluebirds nesting near the greenhouse. The hens are enjoying being outside, and the fields around the farm are starting to green. The response to the NonGMO Project Verified eggs has been wonderful.