It’s oddly quiet at our Wrenshall farm today.

That’s because for the first time since 2012, we’re between flocks. For the past several weeks, we’ve been posting on Craigslist and moving  birds on. This clearing out of livestock is an important step in natural chicken keeping, allowing us to throughly clean out the barn and keep pathogens and disease in check.

Many of our girls were still laying and are tucked into winter coops across the Northland, others (whom we kept WELL beyond prime) will pass on the good nutrition they’ve gleaned from their diet of prairie grass, bugs and non-GMO corn as nutritious meals.

It’s also a rare opportunity to trick out their digs. Last year, Jason and his brother hastily moved our birds out of their hoop coops and into their new space the day before Thanksgiving last year – a bitter cold day. Honestly, we hadn’t even officially closed on the new property yet, but the great landowners (shout out to Dean & Sandy!) trusted us and believed in our mission to provide better lives for our laying hens.

So, now we want to do a better insulation job (we just finished paying last winter’s propane bill in August), install an additional garage door to make chicken access to the prairie easier and add some more toys — perhaps like the pulleys to hang nets full of hay, I learned about at “chicken school” I attended a few weeks back. It’s a fun activity for restless birds on a cold, snowy day. We’d also like to take the time to think through other improvements on our imperfect farm, trying to get better with every decision.

Locally Laid eggs will still be available in our region from our partner farm in Henriette, just over an hour south of here. And in the spring, we’ll have a fresh micro-brood flock.

Thank you for your continued support as we take baby steps to becoming the farm we dream about in our heads. Improving is a slow, painful (and expensive) process, but we’d like to think we’re heading in the right direction. We couldn’t do that without folks who believe in this kind of agriculture.

But despite knowing it’s time to move this flock of good birds on, and having to put on our grown-up, farmer’s pants to do it, it’s just a little bit too quiet on the pasture today.