Chick Farm in Wells, Maine
Our Woodlot
Our farm includes roughly 170 acres of forest, providing firewood to heat our home, habitat for a diverse mix of wildlife, and recreation for many members of our community. Read more...
 
The Story of "Mr. P"

Our unofficial Chick Farm mascot is a beautiful and rather territorial ruffed grouse named "Mr. P". Click here for his remarkable story.

 
Farm Projects

Seems like we always have a project going on around here!

In Progress   New poultry processing facility... details coming soon.
 
Apr 2009 to Nov 2010  

Chickens in the Asparagus Patch

It all started with a weedy little asparagus patch and a few laying hens. Asparagus is a popular spring crop that grows well in Maine and tolerates our farm's sandy soil. The biggest challenge – particularly for organic asparagus – is weed control, and we were definitely losing the battle.

Then we got the bright idea to enlist the help of our laying hens. With their energetic digging and scratching, chickens are generally a bit too rowdy for vegetable gardens. But once asparagus has ferned out after harvest, the stems are rugged enough to handle a little chicken abuse. We moved our portable hen pen into the asparagus patch and let the girls do their thing. The results were encouraging.

Tben we heard about Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE), a division of the USDA that promotes and supports research projects by and for farmers. We submitted a proposal and, to our amazement, it was accepted! The two year grant provided the funds for us to establish two asparagus plantings, each with 640 row feet, and conduct a two-year study to determine if using chickens would help control the weeds and thereby cut down on the labor required to grow organic asparagus.

You can read our proposal and final report on our SARE Project Page. To fulfill the outreach requirement, we presented our results at the 2011 MOFGA Farmer-to-Farmer Conference. Our presentation in PDF format is here and a good summary of the presentation was published in the Spring 2011 issue of the Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

So did it work? Yes! There are a few caveats, as we explained in our final report, but we continue to use our chickens in the asparagus and we've had a lot of interest in the project from other farmers. And the chickens absolutely love it!
 
May 2008 to Oct 2009   This photo album and accompanying slideshow describe the installation of our new Garn wood gasification boiler. Using firewood from our woodlot, we can now provide heat and hot water for our entire house, including the attached apartment. Someday we hope to also use the boiler to heat the chicken house and a greenhouse.