Our Far-out Free-range Eggs

We raise poultry to produce free range eggs, and we teach others how to do the same.

| April/May 2006

My husband, Kevin, and I live on a small farm in northern California named Far Out Farms. Although our property is only two and a half acres, it's large enough to produce several cash crops, including apples and supernutritious free-range eggs from pastured chickens and ducks.

We moved here seven years ago, but I first saw the property at least a decade before, when my two young sons and I drove by on the way to our favorite state park. We saw an old sign for the Far Out House hanging in a cedar tree at the driveway gate. The property was so heavily forested that we couldn't see the house from the road, but there was a hand-painted hippie bus parked outside. For fun, we made up stories as we drove by. We pretended that the Far Out House was everything from a hideout for secret agents to a nudist commune.

I was a single parent for many years, but the boys are grown up now. One day, one of my sons introduced me to Kevin, an older friend he worked with. Sparks flew, and Kevin and I got married. Shortly afterward, he noticed that the Far Out House was for sale. Kevin had heard my son's stories about the house, and just for fun, he grabbed a real estate flier and brought it home. His jaw dropped when I started seriously scanning the flier. Six months later, the Far Out House was ours.  

It didn't take much to stir my farming genes. My family has been farming in California for more than 100 years, ever since 1889, when my great-grandfather and his two younger brothers came over from Germany. They purchased a 40-acre farm that supported our family for several generations. I discovered my own love of growing crops in junior college, when I paid my way through school by working in the college greenhouse. Since then, I have gardened on campuses, in wading pools and in the grassy strips between parking lots. I love being able to feed my friends and family from any available patch of dirt, but when we purchased the Far Out House, it was my first chance to raise food on a larger scale.  

Fixing up the Farm

The first thing we did after purchasing the property was to hit the books and learn more about rural living. The house is so far out of town that it is completely off the electrical grid, and everything on the property is solar-powered. We knew we would have a lot of work to do because the property was unkempt and generally run-down, so we read about wells and pumps, sewage systems, generators and solar power.

The Far Out House was not built for beauty; its builders had function and conservation in mind. To the best of anyone's memory, the house was built in the 60s. The lumber was milled on-site from cedar trees cut from the property. All the windows and fixtures are secondhand. There are no bedrooms, only sleeping lofts accessible by ladder. The previous owners added a kitchen and dining room in the 70s, and a small office and a bathroom sometime during the 80s.

5/5/2007 7:13:32 AM

I have a small backyard flock, with several hens and a rooster. These birds free range and have been healthy up to now. Recently, I noticed that my rooster was limping. I thought that he had strained something. Lately, however, he appears to be limping worse; both legs and feet appear reddish in color. Does anyone know if this condition can be rememdied, and if so, what I need to do to restore my rooster back to good health? Thanks for your help.

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