Honeymoon Farm April Newsletter
Things are happening so fast here on the farm - I feel like it was just yesterday that we went to the post office to pick up our first batch of chicks. Now our second batch just graduated to the pasture! I do admit - I’m excited to have our dining room back from the chicken take-over.
One of the greatest things we get to experience while we jump into our farming adventures is working through trial and error. Though we do research - a TON of research: reading books and articles, listening to podcasts, talking to other farmers, and getting onto farmer forums - it really comes down to doing, seeing, smelling, hearing, feeling what we’re doing and identifying what is working and what could use improvement.
For example, we will never raise this many chicks in our dining room again!
Adapting and overcoming obstacles seems to be a common theme lately as we experience COVID-19. This is really where our creativity shines! And where teamwork and community really come together. We've been working a lot with Sarah at Flying Plow Farm to make our mushrooms available while we can't go to the farmers markets, and our friend Mike and his friends helped us to put together the chickens’ new homes while we were busy with other farm activities. We are so grateful for friends like Sarah and Mike!
The error side of trial and error reared its ugly head when we unfortunately woke up to find three chicks had been killed by a raccoon despite their shelter - so we then installed a tighter and stronger wire around the bottom of the coop to prevent raccoons from reaching in and grabbing at the chicks. We are trying a few different ways to build the pens, and this will definitely be a feature transferred to the next design idea we have. The picture below is the first batch of chickens' first night outside!
We’ve upgraded their home, and we also upgraded their food - we started off with an organic chick starter from Tractor Supply, which though was convenient to pick up when we needed it, we soon were reaching the limits of their stock, and we weren’t happy with the quality of the feed. We called around and found a local feed mill that we can pick up fresh ground non-gmo feed sourced from local farms. This was music to our ears! Look at this beautiful feed - you can see the corn, and I promise you that the texture is superb. The chickens have noticed too ;)
May has a lot in store for us - we are starting to plant outside. Until we put in the raised beds, we’ll start with large containers for our annuals that we’ve started in the greenhouse, and we’ll be receiving our baby perennial plants from an organic nursery in NC this coming week! We will be growing our perennials from cuttings to ensure that they grow healthy and strong. We’ll let them get established in the raised beds and grow for a full year before we cut any for the market. We'll have some extras for sale when they come in.
Gary celebrated his 27th birthday on Monday! We celebrated by working until well into the night on the farm so we could reclaim our dining room from the chickens - I'll gush for a moment and just tell you how much of a determined hard working guy he is, and how supportive he is, and he is one of the most selfless and caring people I know (don't let his intimidating stance fool you!). Here's a photo of Gary and his dad, Gary Sr. working on the farm together. Did you know Gary's been working with his dad on the mushroom farm since his 11th birthday?
Our first batch of 100 chickens will go to the processor on May 15th - we will have to wake up very early, and drive them to Gettysburg, PA where they will come out as poussin (“poo-sah”), a French term for a spring chicken. These chickens are all a delicious white meat, around the size of a Cornish game hen.
Our second batch of 100 chickens (who were just evicted from our dining room brooder) will be brought to the processor at the end of July to come out as Poulet (“poo-lay”), a French term for chicken. This is not just chicken - it has a deep, complex flavor and texture, and a rich yellow fat, unlike that of grocery store chicken. They get this delicious flavor because of their breeds - ones traditionally used for meat - and because they grow slow on pasture supplemented with a high quality non-GMO feed. These are the chickens that our great grand parents grew, and are like the chickens prized in Europe and found in French cooking.
We are really excited to taste how they come out - we will have some great information and recipes for you to learn how to use it in your cooking to get the most of these flavorful chickens, and plan to work with Chef Stacia Epps of Maison Intimate Catering to bring you some dinners and tastings of our chicken, mushrooms, and herbs once it is safe to do so.
Want to see photos and videos of the chicks as they grow? Follow us on Facebook and Instagram!
Summer will be a busy time for us with chicken processing, but also, as I mentioned in our last update, we are changing our wedding plans. However, it actually gives us a really unique opportunity - we get to invite you to our wedding this year! We will be live streaming our ceremony and some of the main events of our wedding on Facebook Live so that our family and friends that can't be with us physically can celebrate with us wherever we are. You're welcome to join us on the 4th of July at 5:00pm as Gary and I tie the knot! I'll share the live stream to the farm page, but you can also check out my parents' house on Facebook (they run a fake bed and breakfast in Downingtown, PA) where we will be live streaming the whole thing: The Toll House
What crazy times we're in, but what exciting things lie ahead... What are you looking forward to most in the coming months? I'd love to hear! Just hit reply to let me know.
Stay safe and healthy!
Honeymoon Farm &
Where to find our products
Pre-order for pick up at one of our retail partners
In addition to our mushrooms, shop for a wide selection of organic and local produce, meat, bread, dairy, and much more with Flying Plow Farm. Delivery schedule includes Southern Chester County, Havre de Grace, MD, Bel Air, MD, and Newark, DE. Check out their site for more details:
Pre-order for pick up at your local farmers market
- Newark Co-Op Farmers Market- we are working with the co-op to establish a pick up point at the co-op until the farmers market is up and running again. Stay tuned for information about this! In the meantime, we do have delivery available to Newark (see above).
- Havre de Grace Farmers Market (Saturdays) - pre-order for pick up through Flying Plow Farm
- The Hub Farmers Market at Broken Spoke Winery (Sundays) - pre-order on our website, pick up from Chesapeake Gold Farms at the market.