When Nathan Dennis was 11, he wanted his own horse for passing grade five, but settled for his own chickens. He got two hens and a rooster. It was then and there that his love of poultry began. He couldn’t have guessed where he would be almost 20 years later because he didn’t get that horse.
Needless to say, he didn’t stop at a few birds. He added more each year until he reached a 99-bird flock, which he maintained at the family homestead until he started working full time at the dairy farms in Cormack, Newfoundland.
While living and working in one of the major agricultural areas in the province, Nathan was inspired to apply as a new applicant with Egg Farmers of Newfoundland and Labrador and sourced out a farm that needed some new life. He missed having his own flock. “I always had an interest in poultry, and I always liked the laying hens,” says Nathan.
The 29-year-old farmer was approved for a quota of 4,870 laying hens to start Long Range Poultry Farm in Cormack, an area of sprawling farmland nestled in the Humber Valley and sitting along the Long Range Mountains on the Northern Peninsula.
Nathan and the flock moved in to the renovated barn and are hard at work as the first commercial free-run layer farm in Newfoundland. When the birds have settled into their new home and are at full production, the Bovan Brown laying hens will produce close to 400 dozen brown eggs a day. “It’s always a challenge,” says Nathan, who collects the dozens of eggs three times a day, wading through the thousands of chickens who have free reign of the barn. “There’s never a dull moment.” He chose to operate as a free-run farm to fill a need he saw in egg supply in the province and enter a niche market.
“It’s not because I think free-run is better than any other operation,” says Nathan. “I think it’s something different and something the public wants.”
He’s embracing his new lifestyle as a farm operator, watching his eggs end up in grocery stores across the province. He is working closely with his two uncles to customize the barn further, creating new office space and systems that make the flow of production simpler and more efficient. “It’s not a fairytale,” says Nathan, but he can’t deny that farming has always been in his blood.
|1/2 pound (.226kg)||ground moose|
|1/2 cup (125 mL)||chopped onion|
|1/2 tsp (2.5 mL)||fresh basil|
|1/2 tsp (2.5 mL)||dried oregano|
|1/2 tsp (2.5 mL)||garlic powder|
|1/2 cup (125mL)||milk|
|1/2 cup (125mL)||mayonnaise|
|1.5 cups (375mL)||shredded old cheddar cheese|
|1/2 cup (125mL)||shredded parmesan cheese|
|1||unbaked pastry shell (9 inches)|
In a skillet, cook ground moose and onion until moose is browned and onion is tender.
Stir in basil, oregano and garlic powder.
In a small bowl, beat eggs, milk and mayonnaise; stir into meat mixture.
Fold in cheeses.
Pour into unbaked pastry shell. Bake, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes at 350F (175C),or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
Let stand 5 minutes before cutting and serving. Salt and pepper to taste.