FARM: Pine Ridge Farm
WHERE: Chazy, NY
PRODUCT: Free-range, Certified Humane, Certified Organic eggs
Curtis Latremore never thought he’d end up a chicken farmer. See, Curtis has three children, and his middle child, Kegan, was born with autism. As Kegan reached his early 20s, Curtis and and his wife Lori began to consider how their son might make a living. During a visit to an organic chicken farm in New Hampshire, it became apparent that Kegan had a special connection with the birds—he just loved being around them. Building on his interest, the Latremores hatched a plan (pun absolutely intended): they’d become poultry farmers!
“We just took the idea and ran with it,” says Curtis. The Latremores opened their farm in 2011 with two barns, each housing a maximum of 20,000 chickens. Two years later, a third barn was added, bringing total capacity to 60,000. Currently, 59,997 hens, mostly of the Lohmann Brown variety, and three roosters call Pine Ridge Farm home. “The roosters’ ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’ makes the hens more comfortable,” laughs Curtis.
The father-and-son team spend their days in the barn, tending to their flock. For Kegan, whose hero is Temple Grandin—“he wants to be the Temple Grandin of chickens,” says Dad—it’s fun, meaningful work. “He’s really good at picking out a bird that’s sick, or that isn’t quite right.,” says Curtis. “He loves getting down on his hands and knees, being near the birds, searching for eggs. He can mimic the bird noises pretty well, too.”
Eventually, the Latremores would love to grow their operation enough to be able to hire more folks with disabilities for a variety of jobs. Curtis realizes that hanging out in a barn around thousands of clucking hens isn’t for everyone, especially those with sensory sensitivities, but there are plenty of other tasks that need doing, like packaging eggs.
We asked Curtis how his birds stay warm in weather like this, and his answer surprised us: “I actually have to work to keep them cool! Our barns are probably better insulated than most houses!” That’s right: his outbuildings can get up to 88 degrees, so fans are running, even in frigid temps like this.
One last note: Pine Ridge Farm eggs are sold cleaned but not washed, meaning their membranes are intact. This makes them safe to store at room temperature, if you prefer.