Do you know what chickens pecking at your legs feels like? I do and it’s the equivalent of those little tiny pedicure fish that pick at and eat the dead skin cells off your feet. Except these ladies weren’t trying to give me a pedicure. They were probably thinking, “What is this woman doing in my pen and in my face?”
Or at least that’s what I gathered from the expression on her face.
Storey Farms is a smallish (almost 3000 chickens!) free-range, egg producing chicken farm in John’s Island, SC- right up the road from our house. The egg guys, Johnny and Jeremy from Chicago, saw a need for local chicken eggs in Charleston and pounced. They tossed out the duck egg idea when they realized that ducks are divas- flying around, laying eggs in the water, basically mucking up the process.
Before we actually got to the chickens we hung out with the real bosses of the farm, Java and Lucy, the farm dogs.
They were our shadow while we checked out all Storey Farms has to offer. Even when Johnny went ahead in the tractor, Java and Lucy stayed behind like good little tour guides. They are definitely Storey Farms royalty.
The most important part of an egg producing farm is obviously the chickens, so that’s what we checked out first. When we arrived some were eating, some were flitting about in the yard, and some were busy popping out eggs.
Johnny showed us where they eat, drink, play, and lay.
He also showed us a couple of mobile chicken coups on the other side of the farm where the chickens can hang out in a little grass. Can chickens be, as my Pappy would have said, spoiled rotten? Yes, chickens can be spoiled rotten, but in the end it’s good for everybody- happy chickens, delicious eggs!
I get the impression that Johnny loves his work, but while the chickens are relaxed, Johnny is on the farm basically from sun up to sun down and sometimes more. There is a lot of stress involved in making sure your free-range chickens are well taken care of- water, food, egg collecting- all at the right time so as not to mess up the chickens’ routines. But, man does it pay off. Look at this stunning chicken!
She’s like, “I just laid my egg, my feathers are looking right, and here I am ruling my roost in this nice sunshine. I think later maybe I’ll hang out in this cool grass. What are you going to do, Johnny? Oh, take care of my every want and need? Thanks!”
There are other animals on the farm too, including two very territorial geese and two giant slobbering pigs! Johnny said he’s hoping to raise the pigs for their own consumption, but for now they are just hanging out next to the chickens, eating Normandy Farms bread, like two bosses.
After we saw where the chickens live and lay, we headed up a short dirt road to check out the egg collection and washing. Our friends, Java and Lucy, obviously played our shadows for the walk. Funny story: Java is unable to pass by a body of water (there are a few small bodies of water in and around the farm) with out going for a swim. He even chased the heron down in this beautiful little swamp/lagoon.
When you don’t catch the heron, but you had a nice dirty swim anyway:
The walk in had tons of washed and cleaned eggs ready for packing up and delivering to local restaurants,
but the coolest part was the egg washing machine (made in the 1940’s, I believe). First, you put the eggs on the conveyor belt,
then you shine a bright light through them to check for cracks or imperfections.
Then, they travel down a little more through water and some bristles, and roll out the other side!
On the way out we met what will eventually be Storey Farms’ first venture into free-range meat chickens, but for now they are cute little chicklets. Just don’t think about it too long.
We left Storey Farms grateful for the opportunity to see where our eggs come from and in awe of the amount of work it takes to bring Charleston fresh, local, free-range eggs. Make a trip to the John’s Island Farmer’s Market to snatch up a carton or eat them at many local restaurants. Storey Farms hasn’t been around too long, but they are definitely here to stay. Thanks to Johnny for showing us around and obliging all my questions and photos- we had a great time. Don’t work too hard!
Alfonso had to make sure he got his obligatory farm portrait made- just look at the landscape (and that sweet face!)!