The beginning of Soul Food Farm was a fat, happy hen laying an egg.
Our laying hens live a dream life here. They roam acres of beautiful certified organic pasture each day. They forage for bugs, chase each other around, take dust baths, or just sleep in the sun — whatever their natural inclination. We collect their lovely, jewel-like eggs several times a day: buckets and buckets of eggs that we wash and pack for our customers.
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 commingle 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?)
Currently we have 1,100 hundred laying hens. We now have our egg-washing machine up and running — finally!
The Soul Food Farm Egg Share: In March 2011 we wil begin offering an Egg Share, where by paying in advance for 100 dozen eggs, you help the farm — and get a price break! Details and FAQs
Pastured eggs are seasonal — the hens lay less as the days get shorter. In industrial confined egg operations they use artificial lights and a horrible practice called forced molting to overcome this. Soul Food does not do either. That means that starting in October, our egg production declines and by November, may be half what it is in the summer. However, while the ladies are resting and not earning their keep, they are eating even more expensive grain because of the cold weather. That’s another reason why pastured eggs cost more.