Small Farms 002: A Day in the Life of A Pasture-Raised Egg Farmer
We tag along with a Handsome Brook farmer for a day
So, we’ve taken you through the life of Handsome Hen, but what does the life of her farmer look like? We have more than 75 farm partners that contribute to Handsome Brook’s network — a dynamic team of hardworking folks, dedicated to improving the lives of our hens and the quality of your eggs. How do they do it? Well, let’s take a peek into an average day on the farm from the perspective of Jacob Weaver near Liberty, Kentucky.
Release the Hens
6:15a: As the sun begins to rise over the hills around the farm, so too does farmer Jacob. It’s time to tend to his hens, who also started stirring with the break of day. Jacob can rest assured that his hens slept comfortably last night — each perched on a raised wooden ledge that Jacob and his team built into the barn. This position (slightly off the floor) is where the hens feel safest. From about 8-9am, the hens migrate from their ledges to their custom-made nest boxes, where they’ll lay their morning eggs.
9:00a: After a quick breakfast, it’s time for Jacob to set the hens loose for a day of adventure. He raises the barn’s shades, allowing the sun to shine through and prepare the sunlight ahead. After opening the large barn doors and pop holes running along the sides of the barn, Jacob watches as the hens eagerly stream onto the open pasture.
The hens won’t use the whole acreage at once, so Jacob has chosen one of the freshest areas for them today., Using temporary fences, he marks off their foraging grounds. This is the best part of Jacob’s day — seeing the hen’s begin to roam, free to explore.
It’s Harvest Time
11a: Years have taught Jacob and his team special tricks for harvesting the eggs — tricks that save time, energy and stress for both the hens and the humans. This is why the floor under the hens’ nest boxes is gently sloped to the center of the barn. It allows each egg to delicately roll down and land upon a long central floor, underneath which a long conveyor belt sits, easily transferring the morning’s eggs into a packing room. Jacob and his team are ready to receive them, placing them softly into flat trays and storing them in a refrigerator until the Handsome Brook Farm truck swings by to pick them up.
11:30- who’s keeping time, really: Throughout the day, Jacob tends to other tasks on the farm while occasionally checking in on the well-being of his hens. He might stop by to trim the grass (predators can hide if it gets too tall!), make sure the water is running smoothly to pasture, or check the stability of the small wooden structures he’s built to protect the girls from sun and hawks.
To make sure the hen’s are healthy and active, he'll pop by the barn 2-4 times to see to it that all of the girls are getting outside, moving around, and eating amply (no hen left behind!)
2:30p: Around mid-afternoon, just after his own lunch, Jacob stops by the barn to prepare an evening snack for the girls — an organic, nutrition-packed mix of milled grains, which he places in feed bins hanging throughout the barn.
Bring ‘Em Home
6:30p As the hen’s return from pasture, Jacob and his family are ready to greet them with a Handsome welcome. They’ll walk the barn, taking note that all the girls made it back and are settling in safely for the night.
Jacob will secure the barn doors and drop the window shades, creating a comfortable environment for the hen’s peaceful slumber. He’ll head back to the family home for a farm fresh supper, and start all over again in the morning.
Days on the farm are long but rewarding, and allowing the hens to roam freely and indulge their curiosities creates an unmistakable difference in the overall energy. The relationship between farmer and hen is a special one on Handsome Brook Farms, and we hope this allowed you a glimpse into what makes pasture-raised farming so unique.