Eggs have always been a part of Jacob’s life. He grew up around the barn, helping to gather eggs, feed and care for the chickens, and over the course of his childhood, grew up to know how to make a mean omelet.
But for his family, egg farming didn’t come until his grandfather was losing customers in the original family business. You see, Jacob’s grandfather was in the ice business. That business was a big one around St. Catherines, in which the family would deliver ice throughout the summer to keep the home ice box cool. But then a remarkable new invention was stealing business. The refrigerator was making an incredible surge into every home. Realizing that the ice business was collapsing under him, Jacob’s grandfather had to do something. Finally it came to him! He already knew each customer and which ones had new refrigerators. Why not drop something off into their fridge? Farm fresh eggs. That idea started a new way of life for Jacob’s family, and Jacob couldn’t be happier. “Egg farming is an incredible way of life. When you take care of the chickens, they take care of you.”
On top of producing fresh eggs, Jacob’s family also cares of pullets. These are the baby chicks. They arrive to the farm when they are a day old and are raised until they are ready to produce eggs. The grown laying hen then gets sent to egg farmers across Ontario.
So as Jacob finishes up his degree in agriculture business from the University of Guelph, why is he prepared to take over from his father and continue the farm? “The short answer is because I enjoy it. The long answer, because I love the idea of managing my own business, and caring for the birds that have cared for my family for so many years.”
Jacob is also excited to be sharing his family’s stories with the Dinner Starts Here project and across social media platforms. “Talking about the effort and care that goes into every egg is something I’m proud to do, and hope other farmers do as well. It is more important than ever before that consumers realize where their food comes from.” Jacob also notes that part of the reason he wants to talk about his farm is because he feels there are many misconceptions about egg farming. “If I can help someone realize where their egg comes from, the care for the birds and the strict quality control, then that person will feel better about feeding it to their family.”
Jacob also works with Gray Ridge Egg Farms, helping fellow egg farmers improve their own farms through animal nutrition and egg handling. “I’ll stand behind every egg that is collected, washed, graded, packed and put into your local grocery store because I see what goes into ensuring that a Grade A egg is a safe and nutritious egg.”
Among Jacob’s future ambitions include a brand new chicken barn that is to be constructed over the summer of 2013. “This barn will feature fully enriched cages, which feature room for the bird to lay her egg in a nest, perch and have full access to fresh food and water. “ I think this type of construction is a perfect balance between a clean and safe environment for the bird, farmer and the egg,” says Jacob. Not sure what that all means? Just follow Jacob on Twitter at @JakeandEggs or find him at DinnerStartsHere.ca