Twenty five years ago, the Slow Food Manifesto came into being, reminding us of the value of local food, time at the table with family, and a slower pace of pleasure. In collaboration with Slow Food International, we are encouraging you to take a minute and sign this manifesto, committing yourself to cooking a meal at home tonight for family, brewing craft beer, or just spending time with friends over some of your favorite home-made snacks. For all those who believe “a firm defense of quiet material pleasure is the only way to oppose the university folly of Fast Life,” follow this link and sign your name in agreement.
Well it’s been quite some time since we last shared anything about our farm. Since the last update, we’ve harvested our walnuts, coming in slightly ahead of last year’s harvest. We’ve also made some hard decisions about the breeds we are planning to work with for at least the next year. When I think about all the breeds we’ve experimented with in the past, it’s truly amazing. Here’s a partial list of the last 2-3 years from memory: Buckeyes, German New Hampshires, White Jersey Continue reading An Update from the Farm…
This is a post we’ve waited nearly seven months to bring you. So often in the past we have shared a new breed we were really excited about on our website, only to have to disappoint our friends when they realized it would be months before we had anything available. As a result, we’ve tried to be more cautious in our writing, or in some cases, just say little to nothing at all. But today we get to spin around over grassy mountain tops and let the world know that the hills are alive with… Belgian Malines.
The story of the Malines begins hundreds of years ago around Mechelen, Belgium (Malines in French). This region was famous for many things, including the Malinois sheepdog, Belgian Dark Ale, and the Mechelse Koekoek, or Malines. Centuries ago, the zoo at Antwerp introduced a number of asiatic chicken breeds to the region, including the Brahma, Cochin and the Langshan. Local poultry breeders crossed these fascinating new breeds with the native cuckoo colored chickens and the Belgian Malines was born. It is not hard to see how the combination of these massive breeds would result in a chicken that looks, and feels, like a bowling ball with feathers. The creation of the Malines had one aim: the dinner table. In this the farmers of the Mechelen region succeeded. The Malines is renowned for the quality of its flesh, being both abundant and delicious.
The Belgian Malines is a great example of dual-purpose poultry. At 22 weeks, the cockerels are large enough to feed a family of six, with enough left-overs for a nice broth. Though they are feathered from head to toe, they manage heat as well as any of our Mediterranean breeds, likely a result of their Langshan heritage. While not as prolific as the Sussex, they are good layers of large eggs, averaging 140-160 eggs a year. Perhaps more enticing for the beginning poultry farmer, the Malines is a gentle giant, willing to spend its day perusing the pasture with little more than a 4-foot fence to keep it secure. The roosters are inquisitive and curious, but display no aggression to their keepers. Happy to forage for their food, we’ve found they have a particular preference for fermented grain, but what would you expect from the land of Trappist Monks.
Sunbird Farms was lucky enough to be one of the very first to receive Belgian Malines from the original importers to the States, Greenfire Farms. From that original order in May of 2014, we chose only to breed those that displayed the proper white skin coloring. We currently have a wonderful flock that is near point of lay and anticipate having hatching eggs available by the end of September 2014. If you have any interest in this wonderful breed, please contact us at:
The Isbar was created by Martin Silverudd, a catholic monk from Sweden. During the 1950’s and 60’s, Father Siverudd created a number of interesting breeds, one of which was the Isbar. While a few varieties exist, the blue is perhaps the most beautiful of them all. It was Father Silverudd’s desire to create an auto-sexing bird that would lay a large number of uniquely colored eggs. The Isbar was the actualization of this dream. Strikingly colored in dark blue and with shimmering metallic hackles, the blue Isbar rooster is a treasure to behold. In addition to their good looks, the Isbar hens lay an egg that is as unique as the man who created them, a khaki green, sometimes speckled delight. Because of the blue color patterns, the auto-sexing traits may be nearly absent, but the charm of these birds far outweighs this inconvenience. We first brought Isbars to our farm back in late 2012/early 2013, when we purchased a couple of the last breeding stock from Greenfire’s first imports. We found the birds delightful, and thoroughly enjoyed their eggs, but unfortunately lost the majority to a predator attack. Now, in the fall of 2014, we have again been enticed by the lure of these beautiful layers. We are thrilled to have this new line of Isbars coming to Sunbird Farms, and we look forward to sharing them with you in the coming months. We also want to thank Greenfire for their work and research with this breed and are excited to carry on the preservation of the blue Isbar.
Bigger is better…Can’t have too much of a good thing…I’m better when I busy…Mother Earth…
This has been quite a summer at Sunbird Farms. It was the summer that wasn’t planned. Or maybe the summer that was over-planned. From international travel to a totally new job in the “real world,” it has been a summer of going and doing…some of it good, some more challenging than one might prefer. When you start responding to the daily question of “how’s it going?” with the tired, but true, “I’m still alive,” you know it’s time to take a little stock of events.
In late 2013, Sunbird Farms started working with the Red Wheaten Sulmtaler. We spent many months planning this project and were so excited to kick it off. Over the following months, we raised a number of Red Wheaten and Gold Duckwing Sulmtalers. The breed was delightful to look at, thrived on free-range, and laid a very nice clutch of beautiful eggs. However, due to a timely predator visit and a lack of sufficient stock to carry on, we “set-aside” the project and moved to other breeds. We are delighted to announce that we will once again have Sulmtalers and they should be up to speed by the fall. So in honor of their return, we have brought back an earlier post below… enjoy!
To our absolute delight, Sunbird Farms has been chosen by Slow Food to be a US delegate to “Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre,” the international Slow Food conference in Turin, Italy this fall! It is an honor and privilege, and we couldn’t be more excited to represent the local food movement in America, especially this year, the International Year of the Family Farming. We will be sharing our work with Ark of Taste poultry, as well as our efforts in promoting and preserving local food culture. We’re hoping you might consider supporting us as we work to raise the funds necessary for the trip. We will be sharing more about this exciting opportunity with you soon. Here is a video to introduce the conference:
And a copy of our support letter:
Support letter for Brice Yocum