Archive for the 'Animals, Critters & Beasties' Category

Proud to announce: Rachel’s Eggs ranked 4th by Cornucopia Institute

The Cornucopia Institute recently updated their Organic Egg Scorecard. Our certified organic Rachel’s Eggs have been ranked 4th among over 120 farms across the nation, with 2160 of a possible 2200 points and a “5-egg” rating (2001-2200): “Exemplary”—Beyond Organic!

Here’s the link to their latest report; http://www.cornucopia.org/organic-egg-scorecard/

click here to see OUR scorecard, with 100 points in 19 of 22 categories!

Our assortment of heritage breed hens rotate around our farm’s avocado grove in their chicken tractors, a bottomless pen designed to keep them safe from predators. They’re moved at least twice a week to fresh pasture, where they scratch around for goodies. They’re supplemented with certified organic, soy-free, non-GMO feed. During the wintertime, our eggs are snapped up as add-on egg shares by our CSA members, with a waiting list. Between mid-April and October, when the CSA isn’t operating, anyone can purchase our eggs though our ‘summer offers’ program.

Our other local organic egg producer, PNS Farms, who we mentored a few years back, has a 5 rating as well, with 2120 points out of 2200. Our CSA members also enjoy their eggs.

Requiem for a rooster

George Washington died yesterday. He was a free soul, easygoing but solicitous of his female companions. My daughter named him a few years ago – don’t really know how he earned his name, but it was his very own.

We’ve had trouble with predators in the past, and our hens are therefore housed in chicken tractors (moveable, bottomless pens), to help protect them. However, we have a few ‘wild’ chickens, mostly roosters, who live free on the farm. In order to survive, they have to have a bit of that wildness more commonly found in the smaller breeds. Survivors tend to be quick on their feet (and nearly impossible to catch!). Their little birdbrains have to maintain honed isntincts to keep them from being caught and eaten. If they’ve managed to survive to adulthood, they usually live for a few years.

I’m not quite sure how old George Washington was, but he was at least 3 or 4. He was beautiful white with black specks scattered here and there in his feathers, and he was on the short side. He carried himself beautifully. I enjoyed watching him strut around, checking on his ‘girls’, going from one chicken tractor to another one. I thought I had a picture of him somewhere, but couldn’t find it…

George would show up at the cat food bowl on the kitchen steps, several times a day, looking for tidbits. I think cat food is one of the roosters’ favorite treats. He would jockey with the cats and the other roosters, Crazy Chicken 1, Crazy Chicken 2, and Rover, for position at the bowl. 

I’m guessing a pack of dogs, or perhaps a fox, came in the night, flushed him out of his sleeping perch, and attacked. I saw piles of feathers here and there, and much later in the day, our farm interns found what was left of him off in a corner, near the road.

We’ve lost a personality. George Washington will be missed.

Cornucopia Institute posts Miami Herald article- Bee Heaven owner: Organic farming is good for the foodie — and the land

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via Bee Heaven Owner: Organic farming is good for the foodie — and the land.

Chickens and Groves, stacking enterprises

All around the farm in Homestead and the Redland area it is full of groves, primarily Avocado groves, but also Mango and a few other tropical fruit. 99% of them are not organic and use herbicides to keep the weeds down under the trees and in the pathways. As you drive around the area you can see block after block of fenced in groves with brown deadness underneath them. All I can think is what a waste of space and what a shame that they are regularly putting down hundreds of pounds of chemicals into the ground and into the aquifer that all of our farms depend on.

chicken tractors in between avocado trees at Bee Heaven Farm

chicken tractors in between avocado trees at Bee Heaven Farm

Chickens and groves are like peas and carrots. There is plenty of research, experience and literature supporting the many facets of the symbiotic relationship between these two enterprises. At Bee Heaven Farm we have 10 chicken tractors fertilizing and mowing our 2 acres of Avocado groves while simultaneously laying eggs for us to sell. Inside each tractor, which is basically a bottomless metal chicken coop with wheels, live 7 to 10 chickens. They get moved to a fresh patch of grass twice a week making their way down the pathways between rows of Avocado trees (and in

mowed and fertilized path left behind as the tractor is moved

mowed and fertilized path left behind as the tractor is moved

some sections Mango, Longan and Lychee trees). This system works very well for many reasons. It is very easy and quick to maintain; it takes only a few minutes to refill feed and water as well as move each one. The chickens are laying delicious/nutritious eggs with bright and firm yolks because they get a daily diet of grass and bugs along with their organic feed. As the tractors are moved along they leave behind a weed free path and the chicken manure that is also left behind serves as a balanced fertilizer for the fruit trees. Using this system a farmer can produce two different products to sell on the same acreage.

In my opinion, all of the conventional groves in the area could be raising eggs or chicken meat using this system and instead of spending money on chemicals they could be making twice as much money on the same amount of land.


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