C. Jay Page likes to say that “it’s never too late to do the right thing.” Her husband, Doug, grew up on a raisin farm in California’s Central Valley and established a successful egg business before he left for military service in 1943, but never returned to the family farm. He always dreamt of returning to his farming roots, but it wasn’t until July 2009 that the timing was right to realize his dream. The couple bought a farm just five miles from the farm where Doug was born and raised, and named it Page River Bottom Farm after its position in the Sanger River Bottom.
Part of the Pages’ motivation to move back the country was a sincere desire to produce healthy, pasture-raised animal products. After observing many of the health problems she had suffered from for years improve after the addition of more fats and animal protein, C. Jay began to research the benefit of such a diet. She learned that the omega-3 fatty acids in pasture-raised meat, eggs and dairy were the same kind of omega-3s in fish oil and were known to be beneficial to human health. Since they couldn’t find a good source for such products, they decided they would just have to produce their own.
The Pages began by adding pastured laying hens to the land they purchased and leased 20 more acres next door. The Pages’ farm house, which is in the center of their 25-acre property, sits on a bluff overlooking the river and nearby mountains. The farm’s location gives it “first rights” ditch water, ensuring their pastures will receive water during their long, dry summers. Although the land had been abandoned for the six years previous to their purchase, it had borne the brunt of over 50 years of industrial farming practices, so their primary concern has always been to rebuild the depleted and damaged soil. C. Jay and Doug regularly add compost, mineral amendments, and expired raw milk in order to increase microbial activity.
With the help of her granddaughter, Alice Simons, C. Jay rotates her animals through her irrigated pastures. After several years of careful pasture management they have seen huge improvements in the soil and pasture health. They sowed sorgum and Sudan grass in the fall to increase the productivity of winter pastures, while clover and herbs were seeded early in the year to increase the diversity and mineral content of the forage. “We believe an animal that can follow its instincts and eat what it needs will be a healthy animal,” says C. Jay. “If the animals have healthy land to graze on they will be healthy and therefore happy doing what they do best, which is eat, rest and sleep. We provide free choice minerals to the animals also so they can recycle those minerals back on to the pasture when they have used them.”
C. Jay decided to pursue AWA certification because her animal welfare practices are important to her customers. “Our staff is instructed to move slowly among the animals, to treat them with respect and to be grateful for the lives they give, so that we all may be nourished. Our customers know and trust us so they know our products are wholesome. They want to know they are ‘free range,’ meaning out on a pasture and not dirt,” C. Jay says. Pasture-raising is an essential part of their high-welfare practices and the healthy products they provide. “Pasture-raised animals are healthy, parasite free, happy animals that grow beautifully and taste ‘the best we have ever tasted,’ according to our customers.”
C. Jay believes that Page River Bottom’s attention to pasture- and animal-health and the superior product it creates accounts for the growth of their customer based since 2009. She hopes that in the coming years, the farm will be financial viable so that so that a younger farmer will be able to carry on what they have started.
Page River Bottom Farm’s pastured eggs are available at local farmers’ markets, stores, and direct from the farm 8am – 6pm Monday – Saturday or through their Community Supported Agriculture program. To learn more about the farm, visit www.pageriverbottomfarm.com, or contact C. Jay at email@example.com or (559) 638-3124.