Formerly,Bar None Ranch, of Berlin, NY, we are now Climbing Tree Farm, of New Lebanon. We raise PASTURED POULTRY, LAMB, GRASS-FED BEEF, and WOODLAND/PASTURE-RAISED, MILK-FED PORK. We keep our animals true to their instincts- letting our pigs dig, our chickens range, our sheep graze. We feed rotationally graze on pasture and silvo-pasture (in the woods). We work with a local dairy to feed our pigs Jersey milk. We are conscientious stewards of the land, and our animals.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Laying Hens...again

Schuyler Montgomery-Nassif Gail's photo.

Schuyler Montgomery-Nassif Gail's photo.
Our hens

We started with 25 laying hens. It was fun. We knew each chicken's personality and quirks. We knew which chicken laid the biggest eggs, the spotty eggs, and which one was likely to lay eggs with double yolks. Our son was smitten, he played with the birds. We sold a few dozen eggs per week.

The next year we had 125 laying hens. It was fun too, but busier. Our son still played with the chickens. We sold tens of dozens of eggs per week. Our customers couldn't get enough.

For the next several years we kept 300-500 laying hens. It was crazy. They destroyed our garden. If we left the door open they would come in and (literally) poop on our kitchen table. It wasn't fun anymore. It was a job (but only marginally profitable). There were so many birds that our kids were scared to go in the fence with them alone.  We washed 450 eggs per day and sold what felt like billions of eggs per week. We had stacks of full egg cartons six feet tall. One of my messiest days (EVER!) was when the leaf on our table collapsed under the weight of 50 dozen eggs, breaking nearly all of the eggs. The floor flaked and peeled with egg whites for weeks, despite diligent and frequent mopping. Our customers were happy, but we weren't.

Around that time we took a Holistic Management class (look up HMI- it's awesome!). Unlike other business/ farming programs Holistic Management looks at what is best for your business, your land, and your family. It became clear to us that eggs weren't for us. They weren't fun anymore, washing all of those eggs was taking away time from our family, it was driving us crazy that the chickens were in our personal/family space (when they pooped on the table and ruined our garden). We went from 500 laying hens to 0. We bought eggs from other farming friends...and it was fantastic!

Eventually, we started missing having our own laying hens and our own eggs. We now have a dozen chickens. Our children play with the chickens, they are enjoying the responcibilities of caring for the birds and gathering eggs. Our daughter beams every time she does her chores- so proud of her chickens. She is learning to count by tallying up the eggs every day (a much more manageable task with about 10 eggs per day than with 450). Laying hens are fun again and we're happy to have them. Sometimes less really is more.


After an impossibly long, cold, snowy winter we are gobbling up the colors and smells of spring.

Our first chicks were out on pasture at the beginning of May and are growing beautifully.