You know the pasture raised eggs that are in such high demand recently as a weekly “extra” option? We’ve hit the jack pot by partnering with Culpeper’s Saddle Ridge Farm – home to 60 cows, 80 hogs, 350 laying hens and many broiler chickens – all of whom freely range the farm’s 115 acres of pasture. Not only is pasture raising livestock better for the animals, but the end product is healthier and more nutritious for you! When we spoke with Wendy Hasychak of Saddle Ridge, she shared with us about the farm’s humane farming practices and plans for growth to meet demand.
Wendy spent several years as a vegetarian before deciding to incorporate humanely raised meat back into her diet and you could say she went all in when she decided to partner with friend and now business partner, Keith Farrish. Keith founded Saddle Ridge about 5 years ago, and Wendy joined him a year and half ago. Along with two interns, Keith and Wendy run the farm’s daily activities.
Saddle Ridge has its sustainable system down to a science, wasting nothing, and keeping their animals healthy and happy at the same time. The animals move daily from one pasture to the next, and sometimes move multiple times a day depending on how quick they eat! The cows move first, happily leaping (Wendy says they literally click their heels) into new pasture because they know that there will be delicious un-mowed grass to graze on. The cows freely graze but before the grass gets too low, they are moved to another pasture to start fresh. A couple of days after the cows leave a pasture, the chickens are moved in to break up the cow patties and gobble down the bugs they find along the way. By the time the chickens have cleaned house, the cows have moved again, and the chickens have a new field in which they can start anew. When I spoke with Wendy, I assumed moving hundreds of animals from one field to the next would be difficult, but Wendy said that by now the animals know the routine. Everyone now knows that moving to a new pasture means new food, so they run and leap to get there quickly!
This mobility has lead to some innovation by Saddle Ridge. The farm uses mobile chicken coops on a trailer pulled by a tractor deemed their “Egg-Mobile.” So, when it’s time to move to new pastures, they drive the Egg-Mobile and their flock of Rhode Island Reds follow suit. Currently in the peak season, Wendy harvests between 22-25 dozen eggs daily from their flock. These eggs move quick, but the good news? The farm just welcomed 1000 chicks to the ranks! That means there will be 1350 egg producing hens soon! And don’t worry, plans to build several additional Egg-Mobiles are already in the works.
In addition to eggs, the Farm processes their broiler chickens on site, and sends their cows and hogs off site to a trusted processor who abides by USDA standards for humane handling of animals. There is one catch with adding meat and eggs to your weekly basket though, we rely on you as our members to leave ice packs in your cooler on delivery day – otherwise, all of the care and attention that go into the animal products sent to you by Saddle Ridge will go to waste in the summer heat.
Wendy and Keith take pride in the health and happiness of the animals who call Saddle Ridge home. Interested in checking it out? They welcome visitors, and will soon be conducting regular farm tours so that you can see what a great operation they run. In a couple of months, Saddle Ridge also plans to open a Farm Store on site for those who live close enough to stop by for their pasture raised meats and eggs.