Following organic practices as we dedicate ourselves to regenerative agriculture
returning the land to a healthier alternative
Corvus Farm is committed to reclaiming conventionally farmed pastures and returning them to a more natural state. The fields on the pastures at Ano Nuevo have been largely conventionally farmed Brussels sprouts and flowers for more than 50 years. In conventional farming, the soil is broken up each year, disced, harrowed, and planted. To keep crops safe and growing, fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides are used to keep threats to the cash crop at bay. The obvious problem is that this practice kills the soil.
Regenerative Farming is the practice of returning the land to a healthier alternative. Rather than tearing open the soil each planting season, the goal is to keep it closed. Corvus Farm has planted a cover crop of organic field grasses, rye, oats, vetch, and clover varieties that mingle with the vibrant wild mustard to return nitrogen and nutrients to the soil. Ruminants like sheep, goats, and cattle graze down these plantings while their hooves aerate the soil and resow seeds. Poultry mobile range coops (MRC) then follow behind, where the hens scratch and turn in the manure from the ruminants while keeping the insect populations at bay. Then the seeds are allowed to regrow as the poultry move on to the next part of the pasture.
Regnerative farming sequesters up to 15 tons of carbon per acre. So if you wonder if a small farm can make a difference, consider the fact that Corvus Farm, on its nearly 30 acres, is sequestering 450 tons of carbon per year here. So take a deep breath.
A bigger step in the right direction
Pastured/ Cage Free
So what’s in a name? The short answer is “everything.” When we go to a supermarket and see a dozen eggs labeled as cage free, free range, or pastured, it seems like they are interchangeable descriptors. It’s important to understand what each means, though.
Conventional egg ranches keep hens confined in spaces roughly the size of a sheet of paper. The unnatural state is obvious to nearly everyone, and reactions gave rise to doing things differently. Enter the cage-free movement. While the birds can walk around, they’re still stuffed into tight quarters. Cage free still means large warehouse-style housing and cramped quarters. It’s not what you think.
Free Range is a bigger step in the right direction, but it still leads to some confusion. Free-range chickens are allowed “some access” to the outside world, but the duration of this time varies farm to farm. It strives for a more natural routine, but it doesn’t go far enough.
Pastured poultry is what it says it is. Poultry are allowed to be themselves to the fullest extent. At night, chickens and ducks naturally look for a secure place to roost away from predators and out of the elements. Our MRCs mimic this natural behavior, giving the birds a safe “home” for the night. Come morning, though, the birds are free to leave the coop and explore the acreage as they wish. Some chickens are broad rangers, heading out to the farthest corners. Others are home bodies who want to hang out close to the nest boxes and just relax for the day. I feel like each chicken should be free to do what it likes with as little interference from me as possible. That’s pastured poultry. And trust me, it makes all the difference.
Full of Flavor
Our Fresh Eggs
Of all the products produced at Corvus Farm, eggs are my favorite. I grew up eating cheap eggs, and I assume most of you did, too. If you’re still looking at grocery store eggs and balking at spending more than a buck and change for sterile, bleached, white huevos, then do I have news for you. Eggs are more than just a bright yellow texture that needs a ton of Tabasco to choke down. They have a full flavor. Their yolks are dark yellow to orange. And their shells come in a rainbow of colors from whites and creams, through browns and chocolates, to colorful blues and greens.
To make sure you get the best product possible, I supplement the chickens’ natural scratching and foraging with an organic layer pellet from Modesto Milling. That sounds pretty sterile, I know. But a pellet is a great way to meet the nutritional needs of a large layer flock. Often, though, a day’s pellets are left over, as the hens are eating things they find rather than a bucket of feed.
Chickens need more than quality feed for optimum health and great eggs. They need calcium, especially during the heaviest laying times of the year. I offer them crushed oyster shills on an at-will basis, meaning they can eat it if they need or want it. And the same goes for grit, which is a collection of small grains and pebbles they use in their gizzards to grind up the day’s feed.
The end result is a beautiful egg, both inside and out. Each egg is hand washed with just water. I never use detergents or chemicals to wash them. Then they’re packaged and delivered to market on the same day. The yolks tend to be a dark yellow hue, and some of them are downright orange. My eggs aren’t the bargain dozens in those Styrofoam containers. But I’m betting if you give them a try, you’ll be hooked on the full flavor and higher quality.
Changing the location
Mobile Range Coop (MRC)
When it comes to housing poultry, there are really two schools of thought. One views poultry as relatively hardy and able to withstand inclement weather and cold, while the other views poultry as more fragile and in need of a controlled environment for optimum health. I believe in the former. After years of viewing chickens acting more naturally, I am confident that the chickens and ducks are hardier than a lot of people realize. They’re wearing down coats! And the comfortable temperatures of the coast mean little exposure to extreme temperature fluctuations. Actually, it’s just the opposite. Even the hottest days seldom touch 80 degrees on the coast. And winter chills barely touch the low 40s. In other words, it’s ideal for poultry. So Corvus Farm focuses on keeping poultry in fresh air and on fresh pasture. MRCs are vital in keeping the flocks safe from wind and rain and predators while making sure they are always on the freshest areas of the farm.