When we first moved to our farm in 2007, my husband and I wanted to find a way to produce income off the land to help pay for it. We hired a trusted consultant, Jim Gerrish, from American GrazingLands whom we had met several times over the years, read some of his books, and heard speak numerous times. He would spend an entire day with just the two of us, talking over our ambitions and goals, our past agriculture experience and then walk our pastures, take some soil samples, and then offer up some suggestions. We felt it was a great investment into our specific needs. Always big on attending conferences and seminars, we felt rather than spend money on a conference and maybe come away with an idea, for just a little bit more we could have custom attention to our farm.
Our hopes were to begin a cow-calf herd and look into possibly raising grass-fed grass-finished beef. We had spent the past 13 years prior raising stocker cattle using management intensive grazing. We would purchase calves around 300 – 400 pounds and then raise them exclusively on grass for several months. The goal was for them to weigh around 800 pounds and then sell them to another producer to finish out.
Jim came out and we sat around the kitchen table a good part of the morning. After lunch and taking a walk around our fields, getting soil samples, and also talking about the cattle handling facilities where Jim offered up some great suggestions we have implemented, we returned to the kitchen table.
Jim shared his insights and expertise, then said, “If you want to add some income to your land and have it not take very long, I would suggest you start off with some chickens.” Now, that was about the last thing this girl wanted to hear! I looked at Jim and said, “Oh no! We are NOT getting chickens. I hate chickens!! In fact, I hate birds or anything that has feathers! Chickens? Nope! We are not getting chickens!” Did you hear God laughing again?
Fast forward a few years and our son had entered into the corporate world. That did not work out so well for him. He hated the traffic and the stress. He quit his job and came home to the farm with no idea of what the future held for him. We needed some fences repaired and trees cut down off fences from a major ice storm. It was a good fit. Work for a young man uncertain of where to go next and our fences were getting repaired.
While around here, he started picking up and reading The Stockman Grass Farmer. Next thing we know he’s reading us quotes, reading books we had here on grazing, pasture, and then ordering books from Amazon written by Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms. It became quite amusing each day to have him walk into the kitchen, clear his throat, and give us his latest insight, “according to Joel” or “according to Jim” or “according to Greg.” Who was this guy?!? He never read anything and now he couldn’t get enough! Our world was about to change; rather MY world was about to change. The addition of feathers was in my future!
Long story short, and likely more parts will be revealed in future blogs, we launched Fresh Pasture Farms, LLC in April 2010 with the addition of…CHICKENS! I’ve learned how to be around them and not be timid when reaching under a sitting hen for eggs, plus keep an eye on the roosters who are protecting the flock and might see me as a threat.
It didn’t take long before I came to love “the girls”. Each day I look forward to seeing them. And each day I have a greater appreciation for all of the animals God created. I see how similar they are to us and their differences; all beautiful in their own unique way. A testament to the creativity of God.
And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds – livestock, creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:24-25 ESV)