Featured Flock Owner: Flyaway Farm
Eggzy was formally introduced to California flock owners this winter after a mention in Sunset magazine. That article brought us dozens of new users and flock owners, all of whom helped to fuel Eggzy’s activity over the winter months. In celebration of those newer users, this month’s featured member is Sarah from Berkeley California — where she keeps a plucky flock of 13 hens in her backyard!
Eggzy: What is the name of your Eggzy egg stand?
Flyaway Farms: It’s called Flyaway Farm. The name is a bit grandiose for the 20×20 run and coop I have in my backyard, but I dream of it being more. I chose the name Flyaway Farm because my first flock of hens had a habit of jumping over our fence into our neighbor’s yard. We kept building it higher, they kept finding new ways to jump it. I’d come home to find them walking down the sidewalk or scratching up garden beds down the street. We finally got our fences high enough.
I’m humbled and delighted to have met people who take their food as seriously as I do. I have customers who plan their Saturday morning around coming to my house to say hi to the hens and pick up their eggs. — www.flyawayfarmfresh.com
Eggzy: Why do you use Eggzy?
Flyaway Farms: I started using Eggzy to get connected with people looking for good eggs. I’ve come to enjoy the production management tools as well
Eggzy: Where are you located?
Flyaway Farms: Berkeley, CA, 94703. I live in a very dense urban neighborhood. Our back yard is bordered by several neighbors, but fortunately all of them seem to like the sound of hens chattering in the morning.
Eggzy: Tell us something about yourself.
Flyaway Farm: My husband and I have a five month old son. I was worried that keeping chickens would lose its allure when I had a baby, but it’s been the opposite…chickens seem easy compared to a newborn! I also work full time for a large advertising agency, which is not as unlike mucking around with a flock of hens as you might expect.
Eggzy: How long have you been keeping chickens?
Flyaway Farms: For about three and a half years. Over that time, I’ve raised five generations of hens. Many of the “girls” from the first flock are still alive and well.
Eggzy: Why do you keep chickens?
Flyaway Farms: I keep chickens for their eggs. I’ve always been fascinated with food production, and hens strike me as the perfect food producer. Unlike an animal raised for meat, a hen produces again and again. And unlike a plant, she’s entertaining! And don’t get me started on the versatility of eggs…they are one of nature’s perfect foods.
Eggzy: How many birds to you have?
Flyaway Farms: I have 13 adult hens and 10 young pullets who should start laying in June
Eggzy: What do you feed your birds? Organic? Conventional? Table scraps?
Flyaway Farms: Organic feed pellets supplemented with scratch, table scraps, and occasional donations of greens from our local grocery store.
Eggzy: How do you raise your birds, are they pastured?
Flyaway Farms: With a couple of exceptions, I have purchased my hens from Ideal Poultry in Texas. They are sent in a box via the US postal service and arrive as 2-day old chicks. The post office thinks its hilarious. Remarkably, all have arrived in good health and have gone on to be wonderful layers and pets. After a few weeks in the garage in an enclosure under a heat lamp, I move them outdoors with the adult hens. Our hens roam freely in a 20×20 fenced yard under a redwood tree. They ate all of the grass and weeds long ago, so they spend most of their day hunting for bugs, scratching in the soil, or preening on the many branch perches.
Eggzy: Do you have a favorite breed?
Flyaway Farms: My two Barred Plymouth Rocks have been the friendliest. They have always been very people-oriented and like being held by visitors. I also love our Americaunas for the beautiful green eggs they lay.
Eggzy: Do you name your chickens?
Flyaway Farms: I did at first, but I gave up long ago. They never came when I called them anyway!
Eggzy: Do you sell your eggs?
Flyaway Farms: Yes, for $6/dozen. Thanks to Eggzy and word of mouth, demand for my eggs far outpaces my supply.
Eggzy: Do you cull birds from your flock?
Flyaway Farms: Berkeley has a town ordinance against roosters — something I respect, since I want to stay in the good graces of my neighbors. Luckily, I’ve had only one wrongly-sexed chicken in all the birds that I’ve raised. At 16 weeks, “she” revealed herself to be a “he” and started crowing. After fortifying ourselves with numerous tutorials and many deep breaths, my husband and I went through the act of slaughtering and butchering that rooster. It was an intense and surprisingly intimate experience to raise and then kill an animal in your charge, and not something I take lightly. Additionally, I had a couple of very loud hens early on that I found other homes for. I don’t have any plans to cull for any other reason, but I know that it’s something every responsible flock owner needs to be prepared to do in case of flock sickness, injury, or old age.
Eggzy: Do you have any advice, tips or insights you would like to share?
Flyaway Farms: For prospective flock owners, know this: there’s a steep learning curve for keeping chickens, but it gets easier over time. Hens anchor you to the rhythm of each day (up at dawn, in at dusk) and of each season (prolific, boastful layers when the days are long, molting and quiet in the fall and winter). Once you’ve eaten an egg from a hen you know, no egg will ever taste as good. But, keeping animals comes with a tremendous responsibility to ensure their safety and well-being, and one clever predatory raccoon can undo all your good intentions as easily as it can open a latch. If you love the idea of fresh local eggs but don’t want to commit to a flock, find someone who already has hens and strike a deal with them. That’s what eggzy is all about. I’m humbled and delighted to have met people who take their food as seriously as I do. I have customers who plan their Saturday morning around coming to my house to say hi to the hens and pick up their eggs. It’s exciting to be on the production end of such a vibrant and sincere food community.