Friday, February 24, 2012

How Raising Chickens Changed Our Life For The Better

Raising Chickens - Keeping Chickens

A few years ago Donald Keller and his wife, Sarah Bailly said they wanted to live an agrarian lifestyle that was eco-friendly as well as self-sustaining. They maintained a garden and grew some of their own food while in New Orleans, but their new adventure really began three years ago when they started raising chickens in their backyard.

Their personal passion simply for “good food” was the initial motivation for taking on raising their own poultry. There are many published studies indicating that farm-raised chicken not only tastes better and is healthier than poultry mass produced in a plant, Keller said.

Initially, raising each clutch or “batch” became a matter of trial and error, he said.

“We did a lot of research about keeping chickens, but no amount of research could have helped us to really know what we were up against,” he said. “It may have been a good idea to work on someone else’s farm first.”

But their laborious operation is starting to bear fruit. Less than a year ago Keller and Bailly moved to rural Iberia Parish to create Bayou Farm.

They began the poultry business on property of owned by a family friend who had relocated to Iberia Parish from New Orleans for business.

Keller calls it a modest operation, but the small business now has nearly 1,000 farm-raised laying hens on the Darnell Road property, and the couple are beginning to eye other business endeavors such as cultivating farm-raised eggs and raising sheep, as well as continuing to keep chickens.

The operation is touted as “considerate animal husbandry and wise land maintenance in South Louisiana.”

The farm requires non-stop maintenance, Keller said, but the way of life has become just as fulfilling as it is tedious.

“It’s about being outside first and foremost and working for yourself,” he said. “Connecting with the earth and being hand in hand with nature instead of trying to force nature or trying to bend nature. We thought, ‘Let’s instead try to cooperate with it.’ ”

Bailly was working on her master’s degree in English and teaching while they were living in New Orleans. But, she said, she is better off a “writer than a teacher” and has taken on the Iberia Parish farm full time with her husband.

The two sell their homegrown products in farmers’ markets in Lafayette and in New Orleans and the newcomers are still tapping into the Teche Area.

“We really love raising chickens here,” Keller said. “Acadiana overall just has good culture, food and good people with character. Everyone is willing to help out.”

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