October Update: After the end of the Farmers Market Season

The first year of any homestead business is always filled with uncertainty, risk, and hopefully reward. Our first Farmers Market season was no different.

October Update: After the end of the Farmers Market Season
Two packs of our wonderful free-range duck eggs at the Plymouth Farmers Market

First of all, we would like to thank all of our customers for buying our eggs at Farmers Markets this year. Launching a small business from scratch is never easy, with your support we have made it through our first market season.

Since we started selling at Farmers Markets we have sold out of eggs every week. It's a trend we'd like to continue even as we grow our flock and production.

Online orders worked really well and helped us manage inventory. Our customers enjoyed the peace of mind of knowing their eggs would be ready waiting for them when they arrive at the market.

Weekly Egg Club

We are still trying to organize logistics around a weekly subscription option for our eggs. With our flock still in a state of flux (new eggs and flock update below), we aren't able to start just yet. But stay subscribed to our email list and fill in our interest form below to get on our wait-list:

Sterling Farmstead Weekly Egg Club Interest Form
As we plan out how our egg subscription will work, we wanted to see what the interest would be in pick up times, dates, and locations. Please fill out the information below and we can add you to the wait list and keep you in the loop with our plans going forward!
Fill in our Interest Form for the Sterling Farmstead Weekly Egg Club

Our Flock going into Fall

Finally - our 2022 flock is finally starting to lay!

After the last market of the season, we came home to discover Laying Tractor #2 (home to 30-week old Blue Plymouth's and 22-week old Dominique's) was furnished with its first egg.

Given the 8-week age difference of the two groups of chickens in this enclosure, we know that the Blue Plymouth hens are beginning to lay. (Their first egg layed October 15th, delayed by almost 3-4 weeks due to the heat wave in early September)

The "Blue" color variety of chicken and duck breeds can be quite appealing with a change from black neck and head, with grey-laced plumage. Once of our best examples of the of coloring in our flock so far is "Adiana" pictured below:

"Adiana": one of our Blue Plymouth Chickens hatched this year: March 17th 2022

We have nine Blue Plymouth hens, and one rooster. The blue color of the Plymouth Rock breed was admitted to the American Poultry Association Standard of Perfection in 1920.

Our Dominique Chickens are also due to lay in the next week or two (also in Laying Tractor #2). I don't have many pictures of them yet, but there are some in the background of the image below:

Dominique Chickens

This breed is possibly the oldest American chicken breed, also known as Dominicker and Pilgrim Fowl: their feathers were used to stuff pillows in the olden days. They appear similar to a "Barred Plymouth Rock", but with a rose comb instead of a single comb which helps make them more cold-hardy. The name Dominique is french, but the breed is thought to have been brought the America from Island of San Domingo. In the 1970's the breed nearly went extinct, but through homesteaders and flock owners it's now recovering. The Livestock Conservancy classifies Dominique as "watch" status.

We're excited to have a part of American history existing in our flock, and to encourage heritage breeds that need saving.

For more information about endangered livestock breeds, check out the Livestock Conservancy:

Home - The Livestock Conservancy
Our mission is to protect America’s endangered livestock and poultry breeds from extinction. Many of America’s once-common farm animals face extinction if we do not take action now.

We now have birds in staggered schedules to begin laying from now all the way through till next March (2023).

With the flock expanding to over 160 animals, we previously posted about how we were building cloud software to help manage all poultry operations, document animal welfare, feed consumption, track egg collections, and keep an extensive farm journal.

We're pleased to announce that we are launching this platform as its own business: "Flock Happy". As the software becomes more feature-complete, Flock Happy will begin to onboard beta-testers to use the app for their own backyard flocks, homesteads, and farms to provide feedback.

Flock Happy has just two main initial goals:

  1. Help families, homesteaders, and farmers raise happy, healthy animals.
  2. Connect communities with their local farmers, animals, and produce.
Flock Happy
Manage animals, track eggs, and bring order to your homestead.
^ Website for our new startup: Flock Happy

This year we have used our software to generate unique QR codes for all of our egg packages. Each code shows our customers: when their eggs were packaged, which farm they came from (ours), what size, grade the eggs are, and how the animals are raised (pasture raised). Even more than this, the platform will make smart determinations on which animals could have contributed to the pack and what color eggs they lay.

Coming up this fall and winter

Seasonality is the name of the game in any scale farming or produce operation. With the seasons starting to change, we have lots planned for the coming months:

Winter Housing

The chicken tractors in the pasture have worked really well to raise the birds over the spring and summer, but with last winter being so harsh we need to move the flock to ensure their comfort and safety. There is a set of horse-stalls on the property that will be used to house many of the birds through tht worst of the winter. Others will remain in chicken-tractors, but out of the open pasture and into more shelter.

Harvest Days

Sustainability and closed cycles are very important to us, and a big part of that is raising animals for meat as well as eggs. In the next few weeks we will take some of our flock for meat.

We have 9 turkeys that we hatched out from eggs this year in February and raised through the season. Only two of these will be kept for breeding stock, the others will be harvested for Thanksgiving.

Our duck flock also has too many males (twelve right now). We're looking to harvest about 8 male ducks to help balance out the flock; keeping the best of each of the breeds.

Whilst we are not directly selling these meat birds this year, we will be offering some to family and friends (maybe in exchange for help on harvest day).

American Bresse Chicks

In mid-December we are expecing a shipment of 25 American Bresse Chicks to the farmstead. This is a breed that is new to the USA, originally imported from France (the "Bresse Chicken") it's  known as the "Queen of Chicken", revered for its unique marbled meat and excellent egg production.

American Bresse Chickens from "Bresse Farms"

If this breed works well with our climate, they could become a major fixture of the farm over the coming years.

With the cold weather: December isn't a great time of year to be raising 3-day old chicks, but with this breed being rare, new, and in high-demand, they're not easy to find... So we have to take what we can get, when we can get them.

Thanks for reading, supporting our business, and shopping local!

Stay subscribed for new posts, and video content coming over the next few months. :)

We also post more pictures from around the farm on our instagram account:

Sterling Farmstead (@sterling.farmstead) • Instagram photos and videos
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