October Rose Farm and our Chicken Sensei

Bottom’s up at the water cooler.

Now that the summer is indisputably over and we’ve a mere month to partake in the bounty and friendship that is the Farmer’sMarket, The Husband and I did what we’ve promised ourselves we would do for a long time: we visited our favorite chicken farmstead people in all of Upstate New York: Susan and Brian Underwood of October Rose Farm.
One Lucky Rooster.
Some people venture into farming with well-defined master plans, others with an inherited knack (and/or land) from familial roots. Susan and Brian Underwood of October Rose accidentally stumbled into chicken-raising when their teenage son reared a flock of egg-layers to pay for a trip to the Boy Scout Jamboree and, upon his return, surrendered custody of his 25 hens to Mom and Dad. Since then, Susan and Brian have painstakingly gathered knowledge and know-how to expand their farmstead into a beautiful, orderly, and sustainable spread at the tip of Skaneateles Lake.
Evening chores.
Rotation method.
Since product quality is necessarily tied to quality of life, and October Rose chicken and eggs are delicious, we were not at all surprised when we visited Susan and Brian to find hundreds of beautiful meat and egg-laying birds on pasture in the fresh air overlooking the Skaneateles valley. The Underwoods utilize a rotation grazing method that promotes pasture health and animal happiness. Broiler birds in pasture pens are moved to fresh grass every day; the Eggmobiles, which run a daily average of 50 pounds of eggs apiece, are moved to new pasture every week. Unlike the cringe-worthy living conditions and pollution of industrial farms, October Rose’s animals serve as the Cleanup and Renew Crew: the birds break down and scratch insect larva out of the manure left behind by grazing animals and then enrich the quality of the pasture with their own droppings. This revitalized soil enhances the grassland for grazing animals, and the cycle begins anew.
It has been widely reported that October Rose turkeys are the best tasting in all of CNY, but should you wish to partake be prepared to plan ahead: orders for the Thanksgiving birds are typically sold out by June. Regularly available are plump, fresh chicken (whole, half and quarters) and fresh-laid eggs at the Skaneateles Farmers market every Thursday and Saturday, or by contacting the farm directly. I wouldn’t dream of making my chicken soup with anything but an October Rose broiler.
We’ve been customers of October Rose Farms for years. As a matter of fact, Susan Underwood – with her calm, hands-in-pocket patience – has become our Chicken Sensei. Without our weekly consultations with her at the Skaneateles Farmer’s Market we would not have dared foray into chicken-rearing ourselves. Susan has guided us through pasty-butt and broodiness and when we showed up to market a bit bummed after the unexpected death of one of our hens assured us that sometimes this just happens and, yeah, she knows what its like to regard a farm animal as member of the family.
Try having thatconversation with an industrial factory farmer.
October Rose Farm, twilight.
Watch this very fun and cool video of chicken-life on October Rose Farm.

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