Sari Clark has fond memories of the years her family spent on a small dairy in Minnesota—she loved the chickens, cows and draft horses. Now, she raises AWA-certified laying hens on her own small farm which she calls Joy in the Morning, which sits on 26 acres in Ramah, New Mexico, in the foothills of the Zuni Mountains. Her land is adjacent to El Morro National Monument, or Inscription Rock, where ancestral Puebloans, Spanish and American travelers carved signatures, dates, messages, and petroglyphs over hundreds of years on the rocks surrounding a reliable waterhole hidden at the base of a sandstone bluff. Sari’s property is mixed Juniper, Piñon and Pine forest and mostly sand mixed with occasional ridges of limestone rock and she uses one acre of the property to raise chickens on pasture for eggs.
The hens at Joy in the Morning are always raised outside on pasture, and Sari tries to obtain certified organic or non-GM feed whenever possible. Sari believes that pasture-based management is better for the birds because it allows them to obtain a more natural diet their diets and perform their natural behaviors. “They certainly exhibit behavior that looks like they have more fun when unconfined!” Sari says. She pursued AWA certification to verify that she was doing the right thing and to gain knowledge so that she could continue to improve her animal husbandry practices.
Sari values her ability to closely monitor her small flock of birds, allowing her to quickly identify any problems within the flock. On top of that, she just enjoys managing the birds: “I like the chickens for their eggs and, as an older person I appreciate their small size and easy management,” she says. “But I also get a kick out of their behavior. Lately, I have noticed that if my large dog barks at them, they just ignore him, but if he uses his coyote warning, they run for the coop.”
Sari isn’t interested in growing her flock much more, although she sells out of the eggs her girls produce every week. She would, however, like to develop an on-farm breeding program, allowing her to raise chicks from the better layers in her flock, and plans to continue to improve the quality of her pasture areas. “I do not intend to grow very much, but to tend what I have better,” she says.
Sari sells Joy in the Morning pasture-raised eggs to her neighbors or at El Morro Feed and Seed on Hwy 53.