“Many hand make light work.”  So said my wise and very experienced Grandmother.  We’ve found that not only do many hand make light work–it’s a lot more fun, too.  Here’s some of our projects:

This weekend we trekked north of Traverse City to 9 Bean Rows farm, home of Nick &  Jen Welty.  They do a CSA and farm market vegetables with eggs and heritage chickens on the side.  We helped them move a half a pile of compost by wheelbarrow (the boys kept thinking of the John Deere at home) and plant a few beds of seedlings.  It’s always fun to see how other folks do things.  It was a pretty picture to see the white chickens scratching in the woods among the white flowers.  Not so when the hens discovered the tender lettuce, cabbage, and broccoli shoots in the garden in the evening!They paid well, too.  They fed us all with a great chicken BBQ and salad potluck.   Joe and Sam recognized the chickens as roosters they’d processed a few weeks ago.  Would that be double dipping, to get paid and then get to eat the product?  They earned it both times, trully.

  We have a special group of chicks brooding right now.  They are a heritage breed called white wyandottes.  Chef Eric Patterson is working with some producers this summer to acquire vegetables and meats that were once common in Michigan but are now very rare.  White wyanndottes date back to the 1800’s and are a uniquely American stock breed of chicken.  The other chicken breed we’ll be raising for this project is the Java chicken.  This breed is also uniquely American and contributed to many other breeds as they were developed.  Both breeds are known for hardiness, egg production,  and nice heavy, tasty roosters for meat.  They should be good foragers, so they will be out on pasture to take advantage of the forage.   Both breeds are fairly rare, though the Java chickens are very difficult to find and stocks run out quickly.  I’d made an order and when I tried to increase the order a couple weeks later found they were sold out.  We’ll keep you posted as this project with Cook’s House develops.

We continue to work with prospective chicken farmers who lack processing facilities.  River View Farm, owned by Mark Schaub, continues to use our facilities for his chicken processing.  Mark Sisson and his daughter Diane have recently become licensed through our shop so that they can raise and process chickens for sale at farmer’s market this summer.  Mark will also be building chicken tractors for the Sissons as they pursue raising pastured poultry. 

Cherry Capital’s Dave Hovest continues to work with us, as mentioned before, to produce exceptional quality sausage products from chicken.  He’s put together a tasty dried cherry and chicken sausage, a maple sausage featuring Still Point Farms maple syrup, and a spicy chorrizo sausage.  Jim voted the Cherry Royale as his favorite.  

Many hands, many heads, many ideas, lots of possibilities.  Collaboration and community are what make this fun.