So, a while back, I mentioned that Theresa and I spent the day with Martin, one of the chicken/egg farmers at Red Fire Farm whom we’ve become friends with. We spent the day picking strawberries with him-he needed to pick strawberries for jamming with Sarah and we wanted to get our 8 quarts of free PYO strawberries as CSA members in- and also checking out the chickens and goats he tends to. We got to discuss and see what was new with the chicken/egg business (Stony Brook Eggs) that he and Patrick run alongside and on the land of Red Fire Farm. I’ll tell you a little about how their operations work and share lots of good chicken photos.
Firstly, Martin and Patrick used to be Red Fire Farm workers who split off from the farm to create their own egg business, Stony Brook Eggs. They entered into a deal with Ryan (the farmer of Red Fire Farm) to use the land on Red Fire Farm for their chicken operations.
This has worked out really well, because Red Fire Farm gets to provide eggs for their CSA shares (yes, this is the source of the Red Fire Farm Eggs that people get with their CSA shares) and also gets enrichment of their soil from the chickens, while Patrick and Martin can start their business without the painful capital investment for land (at least until they get off and flying so to speak).
The last time we checked out the flocks, there were two, and they were living in hen-mobiles with portable fencing. These flocks are still there- being moved around in their mobiles and we got to help feed and water them later in the day on the other side of the farm. We got to check out their new chicken greenhouse for their third and new big flock of birds (these are the young ones that haven’t been laying as much, due to being so young still).
The new greenhouse was a wonderful structure with portable fencing around it to allow the chickens to forage during the day and a nice structure to provide a decently safe place at night to roost. The greenhouse as its name implies also enables them to keep the chickens a lot warmer during the winter.
Martin and Patrick managed to build the greenhouse using a lot of local products- local wood, local fabric, etc. The interior of the greenhouse has lots of amenities, including many nice roosting spots, brooding rooms (they hope to get their own breeding up and running…) swank feeding areas, and a nice hay floor good for making compost with chicken manure.
So, the chickens forage quite a bit on the luxuriant farm land (on bugs, vegetation, and who knows what else) and also get feed to make sure they are getting everything they need. The chicken feed that Martin and Patrick have developed is pretty impressive. They are mixing their grains (all pretty local) and actually milling it themselves for their chickens. What the chickens get is a few types of feed: one milled grain with a mixture of barley, oats, triticale, corn, peas and soybeans, (with kelp, sea salt, high mineral clay, aragonite shell, and some vitamin supplementation) and the other is hulled barley for the chickens to pick at.
We got to check out the mill they use for the chicken feed. Now that is a wicked mill! Our grain mill is really something puny and delicate comparatively.
These chickens (the ones we took pictures of are the new flock) are Red Rock chickens, a cross between a Rhode Island Red and a Barred Plymouth Rock. They are excellent layers and overall nice hardy birds. They also are very friendly, but I think that has something to do with the care they get from Martin and Patrick.
We also got to visit with some goats. Martin has his own set of goats, three personal goats, and a small herd for a goat meat business. I didn’t take pictures of those, but I did get some pictures of a set of goats that a Red Fire Farm worker keeps.
We had a great time with Martin talking about sustainable living, community building, chickens, goats, and farm life. We definitely had our soft city slicker moments where Martin handed chicken watering units over to us. While Martin had been carting these around like nothing, we staggered to haul them around to the appropriate places in the pen. I will say, it is hard work to take care of animals. Especially when you are doing it in a sustainable and caring manner. We had an easy and fun time with Martin checking out the birds and goats, and helping a little bit with watering, feeding and egg collecting. But, Martin had an unending set of things to do for the animal’s care, and we were really thankful he took the time to hang out with us on a Saturday afternoon.Feel free to check out Martin and Patrick’s website to learn more about Stony Brook Eggs.