The Great Farm Migration of 2014

Hello all, greetings after a major blogging hiatus! 2013 was an unbelievable blessing. The weather was all-time, the poultry was prolific, and the community was unparalleled. 2014 has already been an amazing year and there are two major new adventures to announce!

The first: we have migrated to a new farm!


We are now the proud leasers of “Big Spring Farm”, 38 acres of God’s country in Lexington, VA. There is plenty of room for our pastured poultry and diversifying livestock operations. We also have a huge coral, a livestock scale, and… a spring!

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No the above picture is not some stock image of the Mediterranean, it’s from our back yard in good ol’ Virginia. The third largest undeveloped spring in the state sits at the center of our property, pumping out over 3 million gallons of water a day and forming the 10 acre pond you see in the pictures above. I’m going to be experimenting with using a hydro ram pump off the spring to power the water system for the animals (if you are not farmiliar with a hydro ram pump, check out this video) as well as hyrdo-electric generators, aquaculture, and more.

The second:

We have launched a new business at the farm… Big Spring Events!

View More: is just so much natural beauty here in Virginia, and with Jill and I already in the wedding industry as photographers, this was kind of a no brainer. Check out the website link above for more pictures and info about the venue.

Also follow us on instagram (@buddypowers and @jillypowers) and Facebook for daily updates on the farm, weddings, and everything in between!


The Seasonal Slow Down

In my life and on the farm there are two things that tell me fall is just around the corner: football is back and the brooder is empty.  In Virginia, pastured poultry farmers have a fair weather window from about mid March to early November that is conducive to raising our animals outdoors.  So at the end of August we moved our chicks from the brooder to their pasture shelters for the last time this year. It’s a bitter sweet feeling. It means less daily chores, but it also means no more fresh chicken. My advice to any of our customers reading this is be prepared! AKA get a freezer for your winter stock pile!

We store our entire inventory and personal winter-time larder in a series of stand-up and chest style freezers, most of which we acquired via craigslist for $50 to $100.  So while no order is too small, consider placing a large order this fall to get you through the off-season and, if you don’t already have one, start looking for a cheap freezer to store your pastured deliciousness in.  Our last delivery date is October 25 and fresh chicken will not be available again until May of next year!

I leave you with a shot from this spring of our shelters starting down the hill, and an exhortation, HTTR!!!

shelter row




Poultry Processing Video

fresh chicken

Here is a great video from our friend Grady of Thrifty Farmer, that outlines the different stations on our butchering facility.  Both Grady and I butcher at Polyface Farm’s open air processing shed with a small crew of friends/poultry processing experts!  The video shows the kill station, then the birds in the the scalder, then the plucker, then removal of the head and legs, then evisceration, and finally quality control.  I think you will be amazed at how efficient and simple this process is.  Why do we butcher our poultry ourselves? -To guarantee the highest standard for our customers.  If we raised a superlative bird and then sent it to a commercial abattoir, then the quality of our final product is literally out of our hands.  We pride ourselves in handling each bird from baby chick to dressed chicken, producing a unique, gourmet broiler. Enjoy!

(*Disclaimer* Chickens are killed at the beginning of this video. If you prefer, skip ahead 1 minute into the video.)

Also, here is a beautiful sunset shot from this past weekend!

broiler sunrise

Pastured Broilers

Broilers, or meat chickens, are our centerpiece enterprise here at Powers Farm.  They begin their life on the farm in the brooder (check out this blog post for more on that) but most of their life is spent out on pasture in the broiler shelter.  We put about 75 chicks per shelter for five weeks, and everyday we move and feed each shelter.



The shelter provides three important things:

1.) Protection: from heavy rain, the hot summer sun, and most importantly predators

2.) Fresh Forage: Everyday, each shelter is moved one space forward to a fresh piece of pasture ensuring an untouched, heterogeneous mixture of grasses, legumes, and bugs.

3.) Fresh Bedding: With each move, the chickens also get a clean lounging space, and they leave behind an even coating of manure to regenerate the pastures.

The chickens’ water is delivered through a series of lightweight irrigation lines that trail behind the pens.  Every few days, I move the water lines forward to keep up with the shelters.  Inside the pen is a bell drinker that fills on-demand as the chickens drink.

If you have any specific questions about how we raise our broilers just comment below, and we invite you to come see for yourself how simple and wholesome this system of raising chickens is!  Our door is always open!


Last Friday I was delivering food to our Fredericksburg buying club, and on the way there I saw something that reminded me of the great dichotomy in American agriculture.

turkey truck

This is a fairly regular siting in our area.  Many of our neighbors have turkey houses and near by Harrisonburg is home to Cargill and Pilgrims pride processing plants.  I felt kind of small delivering a few coolers of chickens in my little SUV compared to the 18 wheeler in front of me.  But more than anything I felt motivated to push our farm business forward, because I know that all those turkeys are going to end up in peoples sandwiches, sausages, and supper; and I wish they had a better alternative.

This morning I was out moving turkeys and snapped a few pictures to remind myself and anyone that reads the blog today that: 1) There is a beautifully tasty, ecologically and economically conscious, alternative to whats in the grocery store; and 2) that it is worth the effort, either to seek out as a customer, or to raise as a farmer.  So heres to redeeming our food system one turkey at a time:)

turkey shade

Above: Turkeys love shade, so we move this portable shade structure across the pasture with them. Below: We use electrified poultry netting to create paddocks for these awesome grazers!

turkey fence

Here’s an evening shot of the turkeys roosting on the shade structure.

turkeys roosting

For more information on the realities of the industrial turkey paradigm check out this article:





Chicks in the Brooder

As the farm slowly wakes from its winter slumber, one of the early signs of spring is a brooder full of chicks. We start all of our poultry in a 20ft by 20ft brooder house that we built in the field right by our house.

finished brooder

The brooder is built in sections and then bolted together to make dismantling and relocating a possibility.  Since we farm on rented land, we like all of our infrastructure to be mobile.  This also lightens our footprint from a permaculture standpoint.

Here’s our farmer friend Grady helping fasten rafters during the rebuild this winter.


We use propane to heat the structure via two pancake-style burners.


And the best part, a fresh batch of chickies!

fresh batch

Welcome to Powers Farm Blog


My name is Buddy Powers, I and my wonderful wife Jill, will be keeping you updated on the happenings here at the farm. The goal of this blog is simple–to give you a beautiful and educational view into our lives as sustainable farmers.

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So how might one start a sustainable grass-based farm?  Well, here’s some of our story…

Jill and I both grew up in suburban northern Virginia, an unlikely home for sustainable farmers; but I always liked the idea of farming.  I liked the idea of working with my hands for a living, in the beautiful outdoors, and of providing one of the essentials of life for my community, good food.  However, all this remained just an idea for a long time.

Jill and I met while attending Christopher Newport University, I was a philosophy major and she was in the business school.  As our realtionship grew, I began sharing with her my dream of some day becoming a sustainable farmer.  At first she pretty much thought I was crazy, and rightfully so.  I had never farmed before.  I didn’t have land in my family.  I didn’t even grow up around agriculture.  Maybe I had spent too much time philosophizing with my friends, but I still was crazy enough to think that farming was the thing for me.

After graduating from CNU in 2010, I caught my big break and landed an internship with the world renowned pioneers of sustainable livestock husbandry Joel and Daniel Salatin, at Polyface Farm.  This was a time of realization for both Jill and I.  For me, I saw my farm-dream was not as far fetched as I thought.  These guys were actually doing it.  For Jill, she fell in love with the beauty and sense of purpose that good farming just radiates.  It was a wonderful time of learning and change for both of us.

By that fall Jill and I were engaged!  By the spring, Jill and I were married and starting a pastured poultry business in conjunction with the managment of a Polyface face rental property called Grey Gables.  That summer we rasied 5,000 broilers, 450 laying hens, 250 turkeys, and managed a herd of about 130 Polyface cattle.  It was a time of joyous victories, some hard lessons, and growth for our fledgling farm business.

For the last two years we’ve continued contract farming with Polyface, strictly adhering to their high quality standards, and developed our own direct customer base.

This spring we moved our whole farm operation to a new location!  So to kick off our first blog, here’s a few shots from the last few years and our new farm!


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