Wednesday, March 30, 2011
CHAPTER 8: Eggs and Cheese and a Story about Chickens and Eggs
Nick Rupiper of Rup Nut Farm used to have a very small destination farm stand on a private driveway off Norrbom Road, north of Sonoma, out First Street West. You’re not likely to stumble across it. On a regular day only about five cars pass by. But two or more days a week when the trapeze crowd gathered to fly on a rig located down the road a bit, the stand did a lot of business, but perhaps not enough. Nick’s Chicks, then numbering about 90, provided the eggs. His garden provided the rest. When I took this photo in October, 2009 it was apples. He was heading toward kale, chard, and Brussels sprouts. Nick moved his stand and his chickens to a larger piece of land in 2010 and all are doing well.
Nick’s been raising chickens for about four years. He was introduced to them in a psych class at Sonoma State taught by professor and organic farmer, Shepherd Bliss, who also raises chickens. Bliss says, “Chickens are the farm animals that I personally find most healing…. They can be funny, as well as beautiful. I enjoy watching and hearing chickens dance, talk to each other, clown around and dig into the Earth with glee, and herald the dawn.” Bliss contends that human and chicken interactions have a lot in common and that humans could learn a lot from them. He continues, “I sometimes take chickens as ‘Teaching Assistants’ to my psychology classes at Sonoma State University, much to the delight of my students.” Nick found Bliss’s enthusiasm inspiring and contagious. He also got some first hand knowledge from his friend Tobias and has always had a chicken or two as part of his magic show.
Nick started out with three chickens, then bought six more, then another six, then another fifty and another fifty. Currently he has about 15 varieties. They lived just across from the farm stand and at the Sonoma Garden Park. He says, “I raise my chickens with care and treat them the way I would like to be treated if I were a chicken. That means fresh green grass to run, peck and scratch on, a clean coop, organic feed, and fresh organic fruits and vegetables from behind the market (they compost otherwise, so they let me take it to feed the girls). I really do think these chickens are the most happy chickens I have seen.”
Now that he has a fair amount of experience with chickens, he’s building chicken coops for people in the area who want their own. In addition, he plays drums with the Green String Farm Band and does some teaching on the side.
You can email him at email@example.com to find out where he is currently selling his eggs. I know he sells thems at the Sonoma Garden Park on Seventh Street East on Saturday mornings.