349 Mattison Reservoir Ave
Branchville, NJ 07826
Phone: 973 948-0906
The Farm Store is open on Saturday from 8-4 and by appointment. We always say if we're home we're open...but please call ahead!
WINTER FARMER'S MARKET!!
125 SPRING STREET
I'll be attending on the following dates!
Registered Alpine dairy goat kids available soon! Prices starting at $200.
See a brief overview under the CSA heading or call or e-mail for more information!
Special Facebook Promotion!
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We are pleased to be a destination spot for the NJ Audubon for eco-agritourism trips. The spring walk is May 18th from 8-12.
Helping to feed your family since 1992!
As a child my father instilled the importance of treating every living thing with respect. This is what we believe, and this is the way we treat everything under our care at DanaRay Farm.
Biodynamic farming is another type of natural farming that follows a different set of practices from organic farming and is in many ways stricter than organic farming. It embraces the idea that the farm should be thought of as an living organism that must be cared for as a whole and be in balance with nature.
Greetings from DanaRay Farm,
Go away and stay away POLAR VOTEX. It’s been the coldest January in twenty years…and with the coldest cold we’ve ever seen at the farm have come host of problems. In the high tunnel produce that “always” thrives has died. Rows and rows of greens that was planted to feed the greens part of the Winter CSA have croaked. So the fresh stuff part of the share just hasn’t been there. Thank goodness I put up a lot of frozen vegetables and fruit this year, so while the share doesn’t have the quantity of fresh greens I would like at least I do have the frozen stuff to hand out.
Someone asked me if the damage to the high tunnel will affect the upcoming spring season of the CSA, and thankfully the answer is no. The kale and chard will start to grow as soon as it warms up a bit and the rest of the high tunnel will be replanted starting in just a few weeks. These newly planted seedlings will be the first items handed out in late March.
Up in the barn the water pipe that comes from our shallow well has frozen as it comes out of the ground and into the heated pump cabinet. This has never happened before. Of course you can’t get it that area easily. Ray took the siding off the barn in a valiant attempt to no avail. So Ray has become Gunga Din…the water carrier. In the summer watering the animals isn’t even thought about. Everything is automated, so besides making sure the water is clean it’s always there and never thought about. In the winter we haul water in five gallon buckets, breaking out the old ice and then giving everyone fresh water, so it becomes quite a job. But now with no water in the barn Ray needs to bring the cleaned buckets to the house in the tractor bucket, fill the buckets and then bring them to the barn where we then distribute them out. Several trips are sometimes needed so we’ve added an extra hour of work every day just to get everyone watered. And then there were the mornings when the frost free spigot at the back of the house froze too, so add another half hour to get that thawed out too. Thankfully these last few warmish days have thawed the pipe, making this chore sooo much easier.
Our own personal glacier has taken over our driveway. We have a small seasonal spring on the side of driveway, and usually in the early spring we get a bit of ice build-up on the edge of our driveway. I guess the water table is nice and high and so we have an ice sheet about 20 feet by 40 feet and 5-6 inches thick covering our driveway. Ray tried to break it up, his thought was to use his backhoe, but alas after connecting it to the tractor the backhoe wouldn’t work. It was so cold the hydraulic fluid was too thick to pump and without hydraulic fluid the backhoe doesn’t work. It was also too cold for rock salt to work. So Ray used a liberal quantity of cat litter and sand to cover the glacier…it didn’t do much to get rid of it. In fact it’s still there under this new coating of snow, and perhaps will be there until spring…so please take care when coming to the farm. No skating is allowed on our driveway!
Despite the extremely cold weather the chickens are laying well. In fact they’re laying so well we have an abundance of eggs, so we’re having an egg SALE! If you buy 2 dozen we’ll give you a third for free! Wow! DanaRay Eggs for just $3.00 a dozen when you get 3!
From our hens we get mostly brown eggs, but we do get some white eggs too. When I wash them I put them all together, however they come out of the egg basket is how they go into the carton. So sometimes you’ll find just one or two white eggs and sometimes they’ll be six white eggs in a carton. Ray will usually separate by color, brown in one carton and white in the other. And people definitely have a preference, except around Easter, people want the brown eggs. I think this is because people associate white eggs with a more commercial enterprise while brown eggs are associated with a “farm” egg. We’ve been told we have the best tasting eggs, and I tend to agree, but the rich taste of our eggs has nothing to do with the color of the shell and everything to do with the way they’re fed. Our hens have a “wilder” diet than most chickens, they spend hours foraging for seeds, greens and bugs and this is what gives the eggs that awesome flavor. Now why are the shells different colors? Selected breeding.
The domestic chicken is believed to be descended from the red jungle fowl, a pheasant type bird from Northern India. This birds lays about twenty beige colored eggs a year. As the chicken spread around the world different people decided they wanted different things from this bird. Generally speaking the breeds of chickens developed around the Mediterranean Sea lay white shelled eggs, lay a lot of eggs, are thinner and have large combs and waddles. These birds lived in a warm climate and were used almost exclusively for egg production where they didn’t need extra padding to survive a cold winter, in fact they wanted all their energy to go into making eggs, not storing fat. The larger combs and waddles were considered attractive. While those breeds from Northern Europe lay brown shelled eggs, lay fewer eggs, are plumper and have smaller combs and waddles. In the colder climates you would need a plumper hen to make it through the winter, while the smaller comb and waddle would give it a greater chance of escaping winter without getting frostbite. These birds were also considered dual purpose, being used equally for egg production and meat. Why one group wanted white shells and the other wanted brown shells on their chicken’s eggs I don’t know, but they did and they bred them for those colors.
The modern White Leghorn is a small, skinny active hen that lays more than 300 large white shelled eggs a year. You only have to feed a 3 pound bird to get eggs and this is the reason most commercial operations use Leghorn chickens and therefore sell white eggs. While most hens that lay brown shelled eggs lay between 220-250 eggs a year, they weigh about 4 ½ to 6 pounds, so you’re feeding a much bigger bird to get fewer eggs, which is why you see fewer commercial operations use breeds such as Red Comets and ISA Reds. These are the three breeds we have in our flock…so that’s why when you open a dozen of our eggs you’ll see some with white shells and some with brown shells. I’ve always been tempted to get some Araucana hens…how would you all feel about blue and olive green shelled eggs?
Talk to you soon,
Dana and Ray.