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Archive for March, 2011

It has been a cold and wet March here in Arbuckle, California. Too wet to get out into the field and too cold to get vegetable transplants out of the greenhouse and into the field. I planted my production field to cover crops this past winter. The cover crop came in beautifully. I had an opportunity last weekend to begin incorporating the cover crop into the ground and start forming planting rows. I’m getting anxious to start planting!

picture of cover crop

Cover Crop

Picture of cover crop being incorporated

Incorporating Cover Crop

picture of planting rows

Forming Planting Beds

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My current flock of laying hens will be two years old in June. The hens are still laying nicely, but for optimal egg production, it’s time to replace the flock at two years because production does begin to drop. Rather than processing these hens for the stew pot, my preference is to sell my two-year old hens to folks who want to start or add to a backyard flock. I am in the process of rotating the flock now. I have recently sold off some hens and have been bringing in new chicks.

Whenever there are new chicks on the farm, my goose, Grace, goes into mother mode. She spends her days now guarding “her babies.” I’ve never seen such a mothering instinct. My hens could care less about the little ones, but Grace will not leave their sides (except at night when she is in her coup).

picture of goose

picture of goose

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There are a lot of terms floating around in the egg market these days that are leading to confusion among consumers: free range, cage free, organic, pastured, etc. I describe my Wise Acre Farm eggs as being from happy Free Range hens. My hens truly are out on range daily, however, according to the USDA, “Free Range” does not necessarily mean that hens are outside all day, or on any kind of pasture with access to a natural setting. USDA’s definition of FREE RANGE or FREE ROAMING is simply: “Producers must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside.” All this means is that the hens’ housing facility must have a door that allows the chickens to go outside if they choose. “Outside” could be a small concrete slab or bare dirt. This definition is virtually meaningless, saying nothing about the quality of the eggs or the living conditions of the hens.

If you are concerned about the quality of eggs you are purchasing and the quality of life of the hens producing those eggs, your best bet is to purchase eggs from a local producer. Farmers markets and farm stands are a great choice. You can meet the farmer at these venues and ask them directly how their hens are raised. In some cases, you may be welcome to visit the farm and see for yourself how the hens are raised.

I can’t speak for any of the eggs you find in your supermarket, but I can tell you that the hens at Wise Acre Farm are raised in the most humane and natural way possible. I raise my hens from day-old chicks. Once they are grown enough to be safely placed outdoors, they are allowed daily access to pasture. I raise a small flock of 50 hens in a large enough space to ensure there is no overcrowding. My hens are outside all day with free access to food, water, grass, bugs, dirt, sun and shade. They have a large coup with ten nesting boxes and ample roosting space. Hens are allowed free access to their coup for egg laying at their leisure. The hens are locked up in their coup at night for protection from predators. I do not provide artificial lighting or forced moltings. Wings are not clipped and beaks are not trimmed. Hens are not exposed to hormones, antibiotics or chemicals. Eggs and laying hens are sold locally from the farm and at our certified farmers market.

My customers know exactly where their eggs come from. Do you?

picture of hen

Wise Acre Farm Pastured Hen

 

 

 

 

 

picture of baby chicks

Future egg layers

 

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I started this new blog and I didn’t even introduce myself…how rude! I think I’ll tell my story with pictures. You can check the “About” tab at the top of the page for a little more information.

picture of vegetables

I run a Fresh Market farm business, raising a variety of fruit, veggies, flowers, herbs and free range chicken eggs.

Wise acre farm logo

Wise Acre Farm Logo. I designed it. I have a background in Graphic Design.

Gourd Artwork

I also have a background in Fine Art. I grow hard-shell gourds and create artwork with them.

picture of farmers market

I manage the Arbuckle CFM and sell produce and eggs at the Market.

picuture of farm stand citrus

Wise Acre Farm's Farm Stand is open weekends. I sell seasonal produce, flowers, herbs and gift items from the farm.

picture of chickens

I raise true free-range laying hens for egg production.

picture of llamas

I raise llamas and goats and various other critters.

picture of native plants in hedgerow

I work in natural resource conservation, helping landowners in Colusa County address their natural resource concerns.

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Bees and Almonds

Welcome to Wise Acre Farm in Arbuckle, California. This is a beautiful time of year in Arbuckle. We are surrounded by almond orchards and they are all in bloom. It’s been a very cold and wet late February/early March this year. The trees are blooming, but the bees won’t come out to pollinate when it’s cold like this. We’ve had a few sunny days when the bees were able to do their good work. Hopefully it’s enough to get these crops pollinated!

honey bee on almond blossom

Pollination

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