Here’s the weekly roundup from Watson Farms and your direct connection to your farmer. Enjoy the latest edition of Pasture Posts! (Web versions of this newsletter can be found here on our website!)
Beyond free-range eggs
A quick Google search for “free range eggs” makes it apparent that there are A LOT of farms and companies vying for your egg dollars by promising that their eggs are somehow better for you or for the hens or both. We are one of those farms, and we would like to take this opportunity to explain in more than a tagline carefully crafted by a highly-paid public relations team what you get with our eggs that you probably cannot get elsewhere.
First and foremost, each of our hen flocks will cover about 30 acres of pasture in the course of a year. We do this by setting up a loop of electric netting fence each week. Within this loop are the hens and their pasture house, which is a 20’x50′ portable greenhouse structure that provides shade and shelter. It also houses everything else the hen needs such as feed, water, and misters for extremely hot weather. The hens can freely move in and out of all sides of the house in order to forage for grass and bugs. We call this model truly pasture-raised, and there are other farms across the U.S. that use these methods, but many times the consumer has to be very inquisitive to separate the posers from the authentic.
But isn’t free-range the same thing? Not exactly. We feel that our methods go beyond free range. Our hens can definitely range far and wide within their approximately 1 acre of netting fence. The difference is that we re-set this fence to brand new pasture each week! In most systems that are simply free-range, the hens are never or very seldom moving to new pasture.
One of the best things consumers can ask their farmer about their eggs is how much pasture do they actually cover in a year’s time. This brings us to another important point, which is the ability to actually ask the farmer a question about the eggs he or she is selling.
The fact that we operate a farm that you can actually visit is one that should not be overlooked. Next time you’re in the egg section of a supermarket, take note of which egg brands actually invite you to visit their operation. When customers come out on a tour at Watson Farms, they always see the laying hens who are often foraging through their pasture while their dedicated guard dog lies in the grass nearby. When time allows, we sometimes permit groups to go inside the netting fence to see exactly where the hens lay their eggs and how the feeders and drinkers work. Likewise, customers simply coming out to pick up an order or shop in the store, are often within line of sight of the henhouses. This all speaks to the fact that a direct connection to your farmer promotes transparency and honesty between you and your food, even while the industry continues to shy away from customer visits.
Another key difference between Watson Farms and the eggs you might find in a grocery store is our lack of “certifications.” The reason we don’t bother with organic, humane and other third party certifications is because we know that the only certification that really matters is that of the consumer. We want to allow you to get to know us and our operation directly so that neither of us have to pay for the added expense of another organization coming between you and your food.
Another distinction that we think is important is to only feed non-GMO feed which makes up about 80% of our hens diet. We have cultivated relationships with a number of farmers who grow these non-GMO grains for us. We store the grain here on our farm where we then mill it as we need to. This not only ensures fresh feed for our animals, but also allows us to be certain what is in our feed and what is not. We use no antibiotics, animal by-products, waste oil, additives to artificially produce orange yolks, or any other shortcuts that producers might be tempted with.
One precaution that we take in order to keep our hens comfortable during the winter is to house them in an old turkey barn bedded with pine shavings. The birds can go out to large pasture areas anytime they like and we alternate between the two sides of the barn in order to rotate them to fresh pasture as often as possible. This setup is only used during the wet winter months which when rotating them on our pastures would do more harm than good.
So here’s the takeaway: When chickens can naturally forage for fresh grass and bugs, their eggs are the best that they can be. We keep our chickens on the freshest grass possible in order to provide you with the best eggs possible.
Check out the video below of Noah and Bell the dog one evening as we were doing our nightly rounds with the hens.
Now offering Organic Produce Boxes!
We now offer an organic produce box through our partner, Wild Hope Farm!
This is some of the finest USDA Certified Organic produce that there is, and it’s grown about 15 minutes from our farm!
Each box will contain 8 to 13 delicious items. Only a limited number is available so hurry up and reserve yours.
The deadline each week is Tuesday at 5 pm and the first boxes will not be ready for pickup or delivery until Thursday, July 22.
We are only able to offer this produce box for Farm Pickup, GSP, and Charlotte/Fort Mill/Rock Hill Home Delivery customers right now. (We hope to be able to extend it to Charleston and Columbia customers soon.)
Reminder for Premium Herd Members: With your premium membership, you get free delivery for a produce box just like for any other products we offer!
Head over and check it out and pass the word along!
New Farm Pickup Instructions
Farm pickups are now done during store hours. See below for pickup procedures.
FARM PICKUP SUBSCRIPTION BOX CUSTOMERS: You may find that some of the pickup instructions in your auto-generated renewal emails conflict with our new hours and policies. Please disregard these outdated instructions and replace them with the following:
You must wait until you receive an email saying that your order is ready for pickup before you come to pickup your order. Please allow 1 business day for us to assemble your order. Farm pickups are done during store hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 10am to 6pm; Saturday: 10am to 2pm; Closed Sunday and Wednesday. When you arrive, you can either stay in your vehicle and someone will come out to assist you, or you may come inside the store building while we retrieve your order. You may call 803-581-8926 with questions.
We just harvested a flock of chickens with more on the way. Our Little Chicken Bundle has been very popular lately! Check it out for yourself or use our UPS option to send it to friends or family that may live outside our delivery areas!
If you enjoy our products please consider passing the word along to your neighbors, friends and family! We don’t spend a lot of money of advertising but rather depend on customers like yourself to advertise for us if they are amazed by our products and customer service.
All you have to do is refer someone to us and when they place an order for the first time they will get a link to a form where they can say who referred them. You and the new customer will receive a $15 credit! So make sure they tell us your name. Hit the button for more info!
Charleston: 12 noon Mondays
GSP: 12 noon on Wednesdays
Charlotte/Rock Hill: 12 noon Fridays
Farm Pickup: Please wait until you receive an email stating that your order is ready to be picked up (usually 1 business day from when you place your order). Farm Pickups will now be done during our store hours:
- Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 10am to 6pm
- Saturday: 10am to 2pm
- Closed Sunday and Wednesday
Did you know that we have a webpage that displays all the reviews we have received?
Check out this ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review:
“Great Service and Great Product! Everything we have tried Beef, Pork and Chicken has been amazing….we are buyers for life!”
We would greatly appreciate it if you would be kind enough to leave us a review. It helps first-time customers purchase with confidence.
Thanks again for being partners in this endeavor of local, pasture-raised proteins that has truly transformed our farm. We look forward to continuing this transition while serving you long into the future.
Pasture Posts is written by Matt Watson.