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Getting Closer to Closing the Circle...

Posted 5/2/2012 10:38am by Jacob and Katie Mullane-Bach.

It’s hard finding economical, certified organic hay or straw for mulching the fields. As for supplemental poultry feed that’s certified organic, it’s an hours drive, and we’re lucky at that as there’s only two distributors in the state of Michigan for certified organic poultry that we know of.  Even selling eggs at $5 per dozen, we are still selling at a monetary loss when the cost of raising chicks to adult hens on expensive certified grain, and that’s not even factoring in our labor time of rotating chickens in fields, feeding, watering, raising chicks, and collecting eggs. However, our farm does benefit from the chicken manure fertilizing the field as we rotate hens from pasture to pasture, and the nostalgic farm feeling does grow leaps and bounds with the picturesque chicken tractor in the farm’s forefront.  A partial solution to the high monetary expense of raising chickens will be growing much of our own grain for chicken feed. Our neighbor agreed to lease us 17 acres of clean, healthy soil that we will use for growing flax, camelina, oats, peas, buckwheat, sorghum and sunflower.  We currently purchase soy-free poultry feed from Raub Rae farm, and we will be attempting to grow and supplement the diet of our laying hens with a wheat, soy and corn-free mix.  Besides growing feed for the chickens, we’re going to use the leftover stalks of the grain, which is called straw, to mulch the fields.  Additionally, we’ll be using the field space to grow and save seed for our cover crops.

Above are 15 acres of newly plowed up sod that we're leasing. After spending an entire day doing absolutely nothing but using the tractor, Jacob has an entire new respect for farmers that used to plow 40 acres at a time wtih horses.

Below is a picture of the new culvert we put in to cross one of the ditches with ease. The entire farm is lined with ditches and crossing from field to field can become quite a challenge during wet times. Culverts and bridges drastically increase our happy factor.