What Does a Chicken House Look Like?

Fisher Hill Farm - Local Chicken and Poultry

We have three almost identical houses that the laying hens live in and they have a few key features that make them unique. 

First they need a place to lay their eggs everyday. We use community style nesting boxes that are about four feet wide and one foot deep. They have a slanted floor that rolls the eggs to the front of the box where we collect them. The really nice part about these boxes is that the eggs stay really clean and the chickens can’t get to them. Once in a while you can get a hen that likes to eat eggs and not only does that hurt your production numbers but it makes a big mess.

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Another advantage of this style nesting box is that the eggs are easier to collect and much faster. The red flaps on the front give the hens a little privacy and that encourages them to lay in the boxes. 

Fisher Hill Farm - Local Chicken and Poultry
Fisher Hill Farm – Local Chicken and Poultry

The house is also where the hens get all their food and water. The water will only freeze when the temperature falls in the low 20’s. All the chickens give off enough body heat that keeps it really cozy even in the dead of winter. The red waterers in a bell shape work off a low pressure system that keeps them full of fresh water all the time. Every morning the chickens get about six five gallon buckets full of fresh non-GMO feed. That works out to about a quarter pound of feed per bird per day. The goal is to give them enough so they don’t waste it and that the hens don’t get over weight. Also the feed formulation changes as the birds get older.

We work directly with a poultry nutritionist that comes up with the best formulation for their age and dietary needs.

Another key feature in the chicken house are the lights. Hens require sixteen hours of daylight every day to keep laying. In the summer that isn’t a problem. But come fall and winter when the daylight is shorter we have to supplement light on either side of the day. It doesn’t take much but just enough to keep them laying strong all year long.

Fisher Hill Farm - Local Chicken and Poultry
Fisher Hill Farm – Local Chicken and Poultry

The basic structure itself is a greenhouse frame that a Mennonite in Penn Yan built for us. It is covered with a single layer of white plastic to help keep it cooler in the summertime. Also in the summer we remove the metal skirts on the lower three feet of the house allowing air circulation on all four sides. It can get hot in the summer so we have added a large fan for cooling. 

Lots of pasture is available year round.

We can rotate fencing around the house giving the chickens fresh grass and letting other sections rest and regrow. We have portable fencing that allows us to move them to new areas as needed.

Fisher Hill Farm - Local Chicken and Poultry
Fisher Hill Farm – Local Chicken and Poultry

This house has been empty since the end of November and while it was empty we made a few improvements. We installed a new water hydrant because the old one would no longer shut off. No fun having hard well water that wrecks all your plumbing! We rebuilt the door and added metal siding on it so hopefully it will last longer and looks nicer too!

***WONDERING ABOUT OUR CSA? CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO!***

Fisher Hill Farm - Local Chicken and Poultry
Fisher Hill Farm – Local Chicken and Poultry

Last, we made a huge door  (5 foot by 10 foot) on the other end that serves a couple different purposes. First it will allow more air circulation in the summer and a nice shaded patio on the hot days. Second it will allow us to back the manure spreader inside so we don’t have to pitch the manure all the way across the house.

We are refilling this house next week with young hens to meet the early springtime demand of eggs. Once Easter hits and the weather gets nicer that demand just grows and grows.

I hope this was helpful and if anyone ever has a question don’t hesitate to ask.

Phillip

***WONDERING ABOUT OUR CSA? CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO!***

Fisher Hill Farm - Local Chicken and Poultry
Fisher Hill Farm – Local Chicken and Poultry

CSA Season Now OPEN!

We have officially begun our CSA season.

Buy now and the price is the same as last year. But hurry! This offer will only last until February 14th!

If you has a CSA with us last year then welcome back! We missed you! We love CSA because it gives us a chance to see you every week and learn how you use our produce, poultry, and eggs and get some new recipes for ourselves!

If you are not familiar with CSA, there’s a rich history to it.

Check this post out that explains where CSA comes from. 

A CSA helps to benefit everyone involved. Check out these amazing reviews from last year!

csa comments 1csa comments 2csa comments 3

Don’t wait, buy it today and save.

Click here for pricing. 

Crop Report: July 2019

Fisher Hill Farm - Local Sweet Corn 2

We like to put these out as often as we can to ensure that our customer base knows what they can expect to find on our tables at the market. This way you can plan ahead for your meal, pair our offerings with neighboring farms, or look up some recipes in advance to know what other ingredients you may need.

This past week we saw a lot of rain, which we needed, but it can sometimes put us a bit behind. Now that we’ve caught up and all the crops are watered we ready to go for another weekend!

Just as a reminder, we’re not just at weekend markets! You can find us almost every day of the week during the summer!

Fisher Hill Farm Summer Market Schedule

Fisher Hill Farm Summer Market Schedule

In other news, we’ve partnered again with Hearth and Cellar for another dinner on the farm where one of our barns is turned into a five star restaurant. If you haven’t been before then we recommend you join us this September 8th (which is actually Grandparents day!) right here on the farm. Tickets are still available but usually don’t last for very long. If you would like more information please click below:

Purchase tickets here. 

 

What you will find on our tables at market this coming weekend:

Bunched Beets

Spring Onions

Sweet Onions bunched with greens

String Beans

Scallions

Shallots

Swiss Chard

Kale (Red Russian, Curly)

Lettuce

Radishes

Zucchini and Summer Squash

Cucumbers

Basil

Sweet Corn

New Potatoes

Fresh Chicken

 

As always we look forward to seeing all of you at the market this weekend and it’s supposed to be nice weather, too.

 

 

The Dirt is Finally Flying: A Crop and Field Report

Fisher Hill Farm - Tractor at night in field

It has been a super busy stretch here at the farm. We’ve had a few consecutive days without any significant rain and the wheels have been turning.

Since last Thursday we have been going hard and nonstop. Thursday we transplanted broccoli, cabbage, kale, swiss chard, and beets. Also had time to fit in a 15th wedding anniversary dinner with my beautiful bride. Friday we transplanted more beets, pumpkins, planted fall ornamentals, did some discing to smooth out the recently plowed soil. Saturday after market I picked up huge rocks with the loader. Sunday I did more discing. Monday we laid down black and white plastic mulch. Tuesday we transplanted celeriac, scallions, fennel, eggplant, tomatoes.

Fisher Hill Farm - Eat Local
Fisher Hill Farm – Eat Local

We’re finally starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. The only big items left are peppers, sweet potatoes, and winter squash. It doesn’t sound like much but they are all really big plantings.

The weather this spring has really been a downer. All the rain kept the fields saturated and the cool weather slowed down the drying out. I feel lucky that we have been able to chip away at the early spring crops and they are looking OK.

Fisher Hill Farm - planting in the field
Fisher Hill Farm – planting in the field

The cooler weather crops are doing great (onions, kale, lettuce, radishes, etc). Unfortunately, the warmer weather crops are pretty slow to get going (summer squash, cucumbers, beans, etc). Everyone on the farm has been working hard and the market table should reflect that.

This week’s share is a combination of new spring crops and storage crops from last season. We have really dialed in how to store many different veggies through the winter and you’ll enjoy them.

Veggies:

Asparagus

Lettuce

Radish

Bok choy

Micro greens

Pea & sunflower shoots

Rhubarb

Scallions

Spinach

 

Storage Veggies:

Potatoes

Onions

Carrots

Parsnips

Sweet potatoes

Rutabaga

Turnips

Kohlrabi

Beets

We also will have fresh chicken, eggs, and duck eggs available too.

 

Here’s where to find us from now through October:
Monday, Thompson Hospital (Canandaigua), 2:30pm-5:30pm
Tuesday, Victor Central Schools, 3:30pm-6pm
Wednesday, On-Farm pickup, 4:30pm-6:30pm
Thursday, Rochester Public Market 7am-12noon
Saturday, Rochester Public Market 6am-1pm
Sunday, Brighton Farmers Market, 8:30am-12:30pm

Fisher Hill Farm - Tractor at night in field
Fisher Hill Farm – Tractor at night in field

 

When Bad Things Happen to Great People

Fisher Hill Farm Blog Post

Back in 2011 I decided that I wanted to try growing turkeys for Thanksgiving.

Over the years customers had been asking where to get them and I thought it would be a great sideline to the vegetable business. Little did I know that this would be the catalyst to our poultry business. 2012 we raised the first meat chickens and 2014 was the beginning of the egg layers.

But if you’re going to sell poultry you’re going to need to get them processed.

I was eager to raise them but wasn’t ready to start processing them. After talking around I was recommended to a Mennonite family in the Penn Yan area. That fall of 2011 was the beginning of a long friendship with the Hoover family. We had been no strangers to Mennonites and had done business with different families before that. Since the beginning we had built a strong friendship and began to watch our families grow. His kids where starting to get married and ours were just starting. Even though we came from different up brings we still had many common interests including Kubota Tractors!

Unfortunately the Hoover family was dealt a devastating blow Wednesday afternoon January 30, 2019. A small fire started in their woodworking shop and quickly spread to the rest of the barn, including the horse stalls, buggie garage, and poultry processing area. All the horses, buggies, and small animals made it out safely. No one was hurt and their house was unaffected (thank goodness).

It’s truly amazing how fast the community comes together to help someone else out.

But the truly amazing part is how the Mennonite Community comes together to help out a family in a time of need. The fire was  Wednesday and next day a whole crew was clearing the debris away, making the plans, and had already started to rebuild. By Friday afternoon they were ready to set trusses and by Saturday night the building may be closed in already. Mennonites don’t believe in insurance but rather they pay into a community fund that is managed by the church. Then when a crisis happens the church steps in and helps the family out.

It’s truly amazing how fast the community comes together to help someone else out. I hope that everyone can take a step back and take a macro perspective.

Too often we are so concerned about the little things in our own life and we too easily forget about everything around us.

I’m very sad that The Hoovers will not be able to process our poultry for a little while but they recommended an Amish family that can get the job done.

Phillip

 

Photo for this post by Walter Adam