Pastured Poultry

So today is quite important. Today is the day that we officially became pastured poultry producers.

After a week of intense labor and stress, we have finally succeeded in constructing all of the pasture shelters for the turkeys and broilers and moving the giants out of the brooder and onto the grass. To alleviate the stress of crowding, we had actually moved 250 birds onto the pasture three days ago. Our neighbors, Gary, who grazes shorthorn cattle on the property, and Conrado, who lives in the other house on the property, helped us truck down on Gary’s trailer 5 of the 300 pound shelters and then carry them into the field. We would have been screwed without their help.

The last two days and especially today were a determined and exhausting campaign that got the final 250 birds and remaining 5 pens out as well. However, with the help of our friend John from Santa Cruz (I feel like he should get a column on the blog too now. He knows as much as we do about this farm by now!), we got the shelters out and filled. Here we are on the left.

The birds are doing great! The shelters are keeping them comfortable and safe. We’ve had some interesting temperature changes each day and wind, but they look great and I am very happy to report that no foxes or raccoons have been able to even get a paw inside of the shelters. So while the chickens and turkeys are all setup, in the interest of getting the birds out on the grass as soon as we could, Shae and I postponed working out the details of creating the infrastructure down by the pens for watering, feeding, and moving them. As a result we are moving them by hand each day (however, my neighbor Laco is welding for us the custom dolly that should solve this), hauling 5 gallon buckets of water across the field, and carrying sacks of feed out to the birds. Frankly, this is only temporary, but it isn’t much of a surprise. Our two management creeds are “Just start” and “Stress the farmers not the land or animals.”

We also are now officially taking pre-orders for this first batch of chickens and the Thanksgiving turkeys. Things have been going great and we have already gotten a flood of orders, which has been a big part of keeping us motivated. Even though we don’t have a Paypal account setup yet and didn’t at the time have a business bank account, it was important to us to give individuals and families first crack at our inventory before restaurants. For all of you, I'd be more than happy to send you the order information sheet if you are interested. You can reach me at: Kevin@earlybirdranch.com

I’m downright exhausted (which could also be due in part to the leak in our air mattress that has had us essentially sleeping on the hard floor between 4:00a and 6:00a), but we are thrilled…and proud. There’s more to do, but we can see what we’ve done. We can see the chickens and turkeys expressing their natural tendencies and exploring the pasture. And we can see the quality of the experience we are having While I am a bit puzzled by how we are going to manage all of the things on our to-do list, I am excited by the fact that we have to do them all, and so we will find a way.