The Dog That Isn’t A Pet……
How do you protect a free-ranging flock of several hundred laying hens on a rural 100-acre property from hawks and coyotes eager to procure a tasty meal in accordance with their natural inclinations ?? Enter Floer – a pure-bred Portuguese cattle dog (Cão Fila de São Miguel) owned by Josh and Felicia DaSilva, tenants and teammates at our Cloverbud Ranch property in Portsmouth, RI. You won’t find her stepping smartly around the ring with a coiffed handler at Westminster Kennel Club. This breed is a landrace – developed by farmers over two hundred years selecting for performance as a working companion on several islands in the Azores chain to which Josh traces a proud farming heritage. She is a working girl with one task only – guarding the hens with whom she has lived since she was 12 weeks old. Floer is the good kind of obsessed. With the judgement to use the appropriate deterrent for the perceived threat level, she escalates aggression only when pushed to do so. An aggressive posture before the fearsome bark before the blinding charge, flashing jaws and head shaking that leaves only a dark damp spot on the ground.
We are excited to have assembled a group of 5 complementary artisan farmers that will enable us to offer a complete Cloverbud Ranchshare selection of top-quality organic produce, pastured proteins and wildflower honey. DaSilva Farm chicken and eggs add an important component to our range of products grown on-site and available at the farmstand this summer. While they do not come from the same birds, both are grown out in extensive pasture-based program with certified non-GMO grain. The broilers are a strain of Cornish Rock developed to grow quickly. 3-4 week old chicks are placed in mobile tractor pens moved daily for 4-6 weeks in the field. The eggs come from Rhode Island Red x Barred Rock cross that lay well into the fall and winter when shortened day length can reduce production. The dark yellow yolks and dense tasty whites will forever ruin you for store-bought battery cage eggs. Floer and her girls stay out in the field from May through November. After the last broilers are processed, everyone spends the winter at another location out of the weather in a covered greenhouse.
The birds are free of antibiotics and hormones, taste better than confined commodity chicken and improve the land by picking through and dispersing cow patties left by our rotationally grazed beef cattle. They scratch the mass apart in their search for tasty fly larvae, spread it out over 4 times the area and increase soil nutrient cycling by a factor of 5-10 fold. This important work builds fertility quickly and eliminates the need for fertilizer. DaSilvas take the birds to USDA processing and will be offering whole and half broilers, breasts, thighs, drums, chicken sausage and pot pies ready to pop in the oven. You can choose our Cloverbud Starter Share for $500 – a generous mix of 10 lbs. Grass-Fed Ground Beef, 10 lbs. Grass-Fed Steak (mix of sirloin, T-Bone, Ribeye, Kabob cubes), 3 Whole Pastured Chickens (choose when you want them), 3 lbs. Free-Ranged Heritage Pork Bacon, 3 dozen Free-Ranged Eggs (choose when you want them), 3 Veggie Boxes (you choose weeks), 3 Flower or Herb Bouquets (choose when you want them), 1 lb. Jar of Wildflower Honey