The Gray Fox Farm

Hudson, Ohio

Welcome to The Gray Fox Farm! We're a small produce and poultry farm in Hudson, OH. We sell our vegetables, chickens, eggs, and turkeys through a combination of our local farmers market, CSA, and directly to customers at the farm. Then we obsessively blog about it all. 

 

 

My chicken flock is like the cast of Mean Girls

The lone ranger chicken is having some struggles integrating into our existing laying flock. That's 100% normal. Anytime you add birds to a flock, or dogs to a pack, or a new kid to a class there's going to be conflict while everyone figures out where they stand. But clearly my birds have been transported to the set of Mean Girls and have been super rude to the new girl. Rachel McAdams has nothing on my Alpha chicken.

The flock started by booting the new chicken from the coop (telling her she couldn't sit at their lunch table). I found her outside perched on this branch (crying in the bathroom).

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I picked her up and put her back in the coop and forced the other birds to allow her a drink of water and some food. I did this with some stern reprimands, a long speech on looking out for the underdog, and shoving those big birds out of the way. In another life I might have been a really good guidance counselor. 

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Today I'm happy to report that the white chicken has decided to be the black chicken's protector. She obviously took my advice to heart.  I think she knows how it feels since she was once at the bottom of the order, too.

Fortunately this combining of the flocks was much less bloody than the big flock integration we did last time. That was more like gang violence than cafeteria jostling. This little chicken is pretty scrappy so I think she'll be ok. I'll keep you posted!

And then there was One

We took the rest of the chickens to the processor today. It was cold, and early, but we got down there without incident. If you've been on the Facebook page you might have seen this lone black chicken. It was the "freebie" that the hatchery sent. It's definitely a laying hen and our FB friends helped us identify it as a Black Austalorp. We've had those before so we're happy about it. Especially since we lost a couple of layers this week to some kind of attack. We're thinking it was a hawk. Hawks are kind enough to decapitate their prey. It makes for lovely cleanup. 

But this poor Australorp (Australian not Austrian) had to watch us sneak into the tunnel this morning at 5:30am and take away her entire flock. She was a bit shaken up when I got back to feed and water her mid morning. But she seemed pleased to have a pile of food all to herself after spending the last two months at the very bottom of the pecking order.

Wow! Look at all this food!

Wow! Look at all this food!

You're sure this is all for me? 

You're sure this is all for me? 

Imma eat it aaaalllll 

Imma eat it aaaalllll 

We put her in with the layers tonight so she'll be back at the bottom of the pecking order tomorrow. I'd like to think the memory of a day alone with an all you can eat buffet will be enough to see her through the next few days of getting picked on. 

Sometimes Farming is Hard

We did a run of 50 broilers for our winter CSA this year. This is normal. Except that we decided late that we were going to actually do the CSA this year and therefore ordered the birds late in the year. They weren't going to be ready until January. It's fine. The birds can survive temperatures well below zero and winter birds put on a better fat layer than summer birds so they taste better. There's a reason low fat foods taste terrible. Fat is what gives food flavor. Low fat = low flavor.

But I digress. These lovely, wintery birds were all set to go this week. We set up the processing equipment and started the day. And I balked. 

We process outside because we don't have a barn and it was cold. Really cold. And raining. Which made for miserable conditions. And I got all girly and cried and said I didn't want to finish the job. We'd gotten a fifth of the way through and I went inside, took off all my layers, made a cup of tea, and pouted. 

Sometimes farming is hard. It's hard to kill your animals. It's harder when you're cold and miserable and soaking wet. So I threw in the towel. Tomorrow morning we will load the rest of the birds into borrowed poultry crates and drive them to a processor 90 minutes away. Because I was cold. But let's be clear. I'm going to be just as cold tomorrow at 5:30am before the sun has risen and when the forecasted temperature is 5 degrees. I'm also going to be tired. 3 hours in the car before sunrise is exhausting and no amount of Bent Tree Coffee is going to make me perky. I'm fairly certain I will be greeting the Amish processor in my pj's. 

And then, because my life is strange, I will be going straight to a hair appointment. Because nothing says "farm life" like a cut, color, and blow dry post processor visit. 

 

Top 10 Posts of 2014

1. You Should Stop Making Dinner 

Clearly no one wants to make dinner because the number one post this year was all about why you shouldn't. 

2. How to Food Shop...Because You're Probably Doing it Wrong

I loved writing this post because changing the way I bought food totally changed my life. Also, I lost 20 pounds when I started shopping this way. 

3. How to Make Cucumber Water 

It's really simple but seems so fancy!

4. Why You Should Go to Happy Hour...It's not for the drinks 

I am a strong supporter of happy hour food. If anyone has updates for this one please put them in the comments. 

5. Making Peace with Thanksgiving 

This essay was a very personal one for me. I had never previously shared anything like it. Much love to the readers who responded so kindly to it. 

6. There's Such a Thing as a Winter CSA...and you should join 

If you missed the window on joining a winter CSA, ours or anyone else's, you should be hitting up one of several winter farmers markets in the area instead. You can find me shopping the Haymaker Market on any given Saturday. 

7. Safety First...or last depending on how you tell the story 

Blind bicycle riding made the top ten. I am not surprised. 

8. I am so sick of eating farm fresh, no spray, heirloom tomatoes 

What I wouldn't give for a fresh tomato right now! But at the end of tomato season I do get a bit worn out eating them. 

9. Getting Stung 

I would like to say I learned my lesson about googling medical issues. I haven't. 

10. Thanxmas 

Raise your reinbeers and toast to the best holiday event of the season!

Thanks for reading everyone!

Who Reads This Blog Anyway?

Apparently a lot of really cool and diverse people. At least that's what my Google Analytics page tells me.

You are a bunch of Americans, and quite a few Brazilians. Ola

Pretty much all of you speak English. Which is good. Because that's the only language I know. Unless you count a few years of high school French. Ou est le poulet

You love movies and news. You are serious about your iphones. You like to eat as much as you like to cook. This is good. Because I'm the same way. 

About half of you were new to the blog this year. Welcome. 

In addition to the blog, many of you follow the farm on Facebook or Twitter. Which is great because there are things we post to social media that don't get onto the blog. i.e. farm and food related news, photos, and really insightful thoughts on life. As long as they're 140 characters or less. 

So to the thousands of you that stopped by in 2014...THANK YOU!

We're working on updating the website for 2015 and we'd love to hear ideas for what you want more of next year. Videos? Pics? Blogs about carrots? Let us know and seriously, thanks for reading!

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