Our laying hens live a dream life here. When we had thousands of chickens they roamed acres of beautiful certified organic pasture each day. foraging for bugs, chasing each other around, taking dust baths, or just sleeping in the sun — whatever their natural inclination. We collected their lovely, jewel-like eggs several times a day: buckets and buckets of eggs that we washed and packed for our customers.
These days we only have 80 hens and they live in a chicken palace. We still give them the best feed, grass and veggies we can In fact our efforts caring for them hasn’t changed much. We just don’t have thousands of birds on the farm these days but Soul Food Farm hens are still our favorite part of the farm. We’ve left some of our story here of how we care for the chickens so you can see that pastured eggs are a humane and feasible way to farm.
Our job as caretakers is to make sure our “girls” have fresh water and feed each day, that their laying boxes and hen house are clean and filled with fresh straw, and that we restore the pasture after they have eaten it down. In many ways we are trying to “farm the sun” — to grow the pasture to feed the chickens so that they will lay the deep-yellow-yolked eggs that are a sign they are naturally chock full of beneficial Omega 3 fatty acids.
We have over seven different breeds of laying hens that co-mingle and share three different hoop houses. The chickens strut back into their houses at night and we close them in for added protection from predators. First thing in the morning, usually at sun up, we let the girls out to catch the morning air. They love to spread across the fields before the sun gets too hot and force them to seek out the shade. The houses were designed and built by Eric and our workers to keep the hens cozy and dry in the winter; during the hotter summer months, we raise the sides of the houses a little to let in the breeze.
The chickens lay their eggs in laying boxes and, of course, out in the tall grass; we are constantly hunting for their eggs. The eggs range in color from your traditional brown to dark chocolate and pale pink. Customers love the unusual colors, including dark olive and a pale greenish blue, produced by the few Araucana chickens we have. (Did you know that different breeds of chicken lay different-colored eggs?)