Happy Holidays from Browder's Birds

Holly and I wish you - our enthusiastic, supportive and loyal customers - a very happy holiday season! We cannot express enough gratitude to you for your kind words, moral support, and overall interest in our first full season of raising certified organic, pasture raised chickens on the North Fork of Long Island.

Our final processing took place in early October and we finished distributing the last chicken in early November. Browder’s Birds completely SOLD OUT of chickens this year and as many of you know, we actually had to ration the last few batches. So many of you wanted multiple birds for the winter and we simply couldn’t supply all of the demand. Thank you for understanding as we did the best we could to get as many chickens to each of you as possible.

Upon reflection, our first year was indeed a success, but it wasn’t without significant stress, especially early in the season. As many of you know, our pasture in Southold was not ready early in the season due to a late planting of a forage mix in the fall of 2009. So, we brooded and pastured our first few batches of chickens at Biophilia Organic Farm in Jamesport. Phil Barbato was kind enough to provide us the barn space and pasture to grow our chickens. His pastures received a healthy dose of nitrogen from our chicken manure which made the trade off a good one for both of us. It was nice having the support from another organic farmer on a daily basis and we thank Phil for allowing me to bend his ear regularly. I know that got old very fast!!

The early batches were simply too large for our fledgling processing set up, so it felt like we were processing constantly as we worked through the heavy load. I adjusted the chick orders downward once we understood better how many birds we could process at a time. That made all the difference in the world and we settled into a nice weekly routine that lasted the balance of the season. In late June, our pasture was finally ready and we moved the whole operation to Charnews Farm in Southold which helped significantly. Commute time was cut dramatically and our pasture is very close to our brooding and processing areas making the entire process easier.

We became Certified Organic in early June and I was especially happy about that. This designation gave us instant credibility to customers who had not heard of us. We did receive some excellent publicity during the season being featured prominently in Newsday and Edible East End. Thank you Erica Marcus and Eileen Duffy for your interest in our business. The Peconic Land Trust has been extremely supportive of our efforts and I’m very thankful they allowed us to set up shop at Charnews. It’s a great setting and is becoming a small hub of local farming. Finally, I cannot tell you how many countless positive comments we received verbally or in writing from our customers. There really is a significant difference in our chickens vs. traditional store bought and our customers let us know that regularly. Thanks for the constant reminders!!

We’re excited about our initial plans for 2011. First, we're planning to increase our production while still staying in compliance with regulatory levels. Last year we experimented with the slower growing, smaller, yet very tasty red broilers, also referred to as Freedom Rangers. We're planning to add these as a permanent part of our business to compliment our Cornish Cross broiler. Second, we’re planning to sell each Saturday at the Westhampton Beach Farmers Market again this year. I really enjoyed that experience in 2010 and am looking forward to selling there again in 2011. We’ll probably start selling chickens at Westhampton on May 28th, Memorial Day weekend, so we’ll see you then. Third, we will sell again on-farm at Charnews in Southold. We had such great local support, so those of you who live in and around Southold, spread the word to your friends. Fourth, we’re going to experiment with about 30 egg layers this year. We’ll receive our pullets in late April and hopefully get our first eggs around the first of June. So, stay tuned for more on that. Fifth, we plan to hire Tom Hart as a part time apprentice for the growing season. Tom volunteered his services in 2010 by helping us process and we’ve decided to hire him to work several days a week with us. He’ll work the other days with Phil Barbato at Biophilia Organic Farm in Jamesport.

That about sums it up. We look forward to seeing you in the spring and stay tuned for updates from us. Thanks again for your support of our efforts. We really do appreciate it.

Chris Browder