Winner, winner (hatch-to-table) chicken dinner. This week, Farmhouse Delivery sat down with Sarah Helm, the daughter of Windy Meadows Farm owner, Mike Hale. 32 weeks pregnant and undoubtedly glowing with knowledge (even through the receiver) Sarah got us up to speed on all things chicken, how nurturing the animals, our planet, and ourselves is all possible at the same time. Add their Chicken Breast to your cart this week and give the Vietnamese Sticky Chicken with Daikon & Carrot Pickle recipe a go!
Farmhouse Delivery: Farmhouse obviously loves Windy Meadows! (We carry 10 different chicken products) – With that being said, let’s talk chicken! Tell us about your chickens.
Windy Meadows Farm: You know that feeling when you buy store-bought chicken, and just think “this is very bland” … well, we took one bite of ours, and immediately believed in our own product. Growing up, we had eight kids in our family. We lived on 40 acres and my grandfather was raising cows on the property. My dad was a beef guy (beef was the only protein that tasted good to him) but we wanted to try raising chickens to start!
Farmhouse Delivery: What about sustainability?
Windy Meadows Farm: Our definition of sustainability is investing in the soil to increase productivity. When it comes to sustainable farming, planting the same crops year over year depletes the minerals. The traditional method is typically to plant, harvest, plant, harvest. This doesn’t put much back into the soil, instead eating away what’s there…then the soil becomes so poor that it doesn’t support the crops.
Farmhouse Delivery: When it comes to hitting your sustainability goals, how do you strive to meet/exceed them?
Windy Meadows Farm: Rotational mob grazing! We take small plots, and bring the chickens onto these plots, where the grass has a chance to grow taller. All the matter is concentrated in those areas. We are always learning how to become more sustainable as far as farming the soil, but by doing this right now, we are controlling where the grazing happens and building the soil in that area. It increases both fertility and organic matter!
Farmhouse Delivery: So what’s the purpose of organic matter?
Windy Meadows Farm: When you increase organic matter in the soil, the good bacteria helps to unlock the minerals and become more available…. AKA the bio-availability of the minerals.
Farmhouse Delivery: As you grow, what other goals do you have?
Windy Meadows Farm: Rotationally grazing gives the soil 10-12 weeks, maybe longer to recover and the good bacteria to take over the bad bacteria, creating a healthy environment to raise the chickens. As we grow, we want to allow more resting time, to further maximize the health of the chickens.
Farmhouse Delivery: What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a small farmer?
Windy Meadows Farm: There’s always a learning curve. It’s been challenging to figure out how to keep our natural protocols with USDA expectations.
Farmhouse Delivery: What is most important to y’all as a business?
Windy Meadows Farm: Our goal is always to grow a healthy chicken. With standard chicken farming, chickens get sick. That’s not an option for us. Our goal is to raise a bullet-proof bird using natural remedies. We work with a nutritionist to morph the feed season over season. The feed includes things like oat, fish meal, and minerals: everything we need to nourish the chickens. It’s all about having the right nutrients – it’s how we eat. Just as we’d maintain our own diets, it’s the same idea for the chickens. We’re making choices based on higher mineral content to become more resilient.