We bought 160 acres in Marion County in 2018 with the idea of having a farm, but without living on-site or really even that close to it, and our busy schedules, it just wasn’t going to work out. So we sold that land to someone who can enjoy it every day of the year, and bought 50 acres in Baxter County where we live and are able to work every day. The property already had two barns on it; one has three horse stalls in it and the other is a nice storage barn. We converted one of the horse stalls to a chicken coop, and got 12 baby chicks from the farm supply store back in April of this year (2022). A snake killed one chick and Winchester killed three others, so we went back and got 6 more chicks a couple days later. My goal was to have 12 hens and then maybe add a rooster later, but in some sort of freak accident, we ended up with a rooster instead of a hen – it’s not supposed to happen, as all the chicks are sexed before being shipped. It worked out perfectly for us though, because our rooster is super laid back since we raised him, and the hens all grew up together so they all get along great. No pecking or fighting at all. After the dead chicks, we ended up with 6 Rhode Island Reds, 4 Barred Rocks, and 3 Buff Orpingtons. The rooster is a Barred Rock, we named him Checkers. We don’t name the hens in case we need to eat them (have you seen the prices of chicken in grocery stores lately?!) but now that they are all laying, they’re probably safe for a few years. We can raise a lot of pullets for food if needed.
Raising chickens and taking care of them has been really rewarding, and the boys have helped out along the way. We get so many eggs now that we just give most of them away to friends and family. If you get one of our eggs, you’ll know it – we stamp each one with a “Gaston Farm” image. Our hens free-range all day, we give them organic feed and very clean well water from a spring that isn’t very deep under our property. We like to spoil them with cooked rice, popcorn, and other leftovers that they can eat. If you get Gaston eggs, you’ll know you’re getting the best.
We don’t have any other livestock right now, but have considered getting a couple of horses or maybe some cattle later on. Duke wants us to get a goat. We do have a barn cat that we’ve never named, we just call her Kitty Cat, but she’s so sweet that she doesn’t want to kill mice so she’s basically just another pet at this point. She has a custom kitty treehouse that I built, with a heater and double-walled cedar walls and roof so it stays pretty warm. We also have a large pond on the property where I’ve been trying to re-establish the bass and catfish that were taken out from trespassers while the property was vacant. We have a lot of deer, a few turkeys, and possibly a black bear and mountain lion that pass through occasionally. Out of the 50 acres, only 15 are cleared, the rest is all woods. Our shop guys help clear land in their spare time, and they’ve basically turned parts of the property into what looks like a state park. There are three creeks that run through the property, one has a giant waterfall on it, and the guys have opened everything up so you can actually see what is here. It’s amazing; I’ll add pics when I get time. This property has been awesome for us, and we get to enjoy it a whole lot more since we live on-site.