A few years ago, when Gerald Leuschen was living near Petaluma Poultry, a little Rocky Junior rooster escaped and ended up at Leuschen’s home. He kept the chicken, named it Buddy and, soon, Buddy’s Farm was born. Before long, a friend gave him his first hen, who was named Goldie. Soon there were eggs, called Goldie’s Best.
Today, Leuschen cares for a flock of about 800 birds, nearly two dozen of which are roosters. Currently, the hens are producing about 30 dozen fertile eggs a day. By the end of summer, when some of the younger birds come into production, there will be about 40 dozen a day. The eggs are sold direct to customers from the farm.
There are several breeds, Rhode Island Reds, Production Crosses, Sexlinks, Buff Orpingtons, Auracanas and a few others that produce eggs in a range of earthy browns and blue-greens.
Leuschen opens up the 1100-square-foot coop–made of old hot tub pallets and recycled corrugated roofing–at the crack of dawn, gives the birds organic feed manufactured by Hunt & Behrens in Petaluma and leaves them to roam nearly 11 acres, guarded by two llamas. These are truly pastured hens, not simply hens with access to a small square of dirt.
Buddy’s Farm is a family endeavor. Leuschen may open things up in the morning, but at night, he and his wife Suzanne, along with their two sons, aged 9 and 12, gather the eggs, and, once the sun has set, lock up to coop. The chickens, of course, put themselves to bed. They cannot see in the dark and so find their spot on the roost, enforced by a strict pecking order only the chickens themselves truly understand, before the sun is fully set.
At night, critters–foxes, raccoons, opossums, skunk and other nocturnal creatures–roam the pastures. Leuschen lets things unfold naturally unless he starts losing birds and then he traps the troublemaker and releases it elsewhere. During the day, hawks and eagles can be a problem; he’s lost a few birds recently.
His birds live as natural and stress-free a life as possible, without antibiotics, hormones or artificial light. With roosters part of the flock, the eggs are fertilized. To check on fertility and to increase his flock, Leuschen incubates three to four dozen eggs every few weeks.
He does not wash the eggs his hens produce, which means their natural protective coating is intact and they do not require refrigeration, though it does not hurt them to keep them in the refrigerator. Incubate them–or store them in too warm an area–and you’ll end up with your own chickens.
Currently, Leuschen is building a flock of ducks, too, for both egg and meat production. And by the end of summer, he expects to have chicken, as well. It should be available every 8 to 10 weeks or so thereafter.
Goldie’s Best sell for $5 a dozen. When Leuschen receives several orders from a single community, he will deliver his eggs. Currently he deliveries to Cotati, Rohnert Park and Petaluma.
Buddy’s Farm was founded by Gerald Leuschen in about 2010 and is located on Blank Rd., between south Sebastopol and Cotati. To arrange to pick up eggs, call Leuschen at 326-4800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Check Buddy’s Farm’s Facebook page for announcements about meat chickens and duck products.