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Welcome to Helping Hens Farm - Year Zero

Updated: Mar 30, 2020

We bought the larger mobile coop in January. I've posted a bit of background, showed off the coop, and shared some info on some large scale thinking I've done. But often times, it makes sense to start small. We're doing that in 2020. Now it's time to talk about the plan.

The Flock

We will grow our existing flow of close to 20 chickens to roughly 75-80. 25 of these will live in the existing coops, with 50-55 living in the big new coop.

The existing flock will remain the mix of odds and ends from a breed standpoint, with the new additions being added this spring. The new 50-55 will likely be high production hybrid layers (likely red stars). They will come later (more on that below).

The Idea

The idea is to turn food waste into healthy food for people in need by feeding food waste to chickens in a compost setup, and donate the fresh, healthy eggs the chickens to produce to those who need it most through partnerships with local organizations.

The Plan

Our plan, put simply, is to feed the larger flock almost exclusively on food waste and compost. We'll supplement the smaller flocks diet with a large percentage of food waste as well, although they will still get layer feed as they won't have direct access to compost.

As you imagine, 75 chickens should produce a good number of eggs, probably roughly 5 dozen a day in peak season once they're all mature.

Our plan is to donate 100% of the eggs from the larger flock (3-4 dozen a day?), plus excess eggs from the smaller flock that we don't consume or share with family or friends to partner organizations that can get them into the hands of people in need.

While our scale isn't huge - we're talking about 75 chickens and probably 7,500 sq. feet of "farm", we're hoping we can do a lot of good.

Year Zero

We are referring to this as "Year Zero" for the farm - the year we prepare everything. The coop has arrived, but there is a significant amount of work to be done before the larger flock arrives and eventually starts laying eggs.

I expect the larger flock to arrive as day old chicks in late August or very early September. This should mean they start laying in early 2021, just in time to officially kick off our "Year 1".

The Preparations

2020 preparations, which we'll break down in future blog posts, fall into several categories, which should keep us plenty busy.

These include:

- Coop repairs and preparations

- Significant fencing additions and upgrades

- New and replacement gates

- Move of existing coops

- Build-out of compost area

- Some landscaping, including moving a 10-yard dirt pile

Building Relationships

In addition to building compost areas, roosts, fences, and gates, we'll be looking to build relationships this year.

To make this plan work, we need to form relationships that allow us to consistently source food waste as well as relationships with organizations that can distribute our fresh eggs to those in need.

To help form those relationships, I'll be attending the Rhode Island Compost Conference this week. This will be my 3rd or 4th year attending the event, which is always a great day.

We hope you'll follow along the journey! Right now we're excited for the weather to warm up, the ground to thaw, and us to really start making some progress!

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