Foxhollow Poultry Farm, near Elkhart, is one of our favorite vendors at the Downtown Des Moines Farmer's Market. We've gotten our Thanksgiving turkeys from them for the last couple of years, and enjoy their chicken and eggs on a regular basis. So we were pretty excited when we recently had the chance to head out to the farm for a visit.
Owner Tai Spratt-Johnson and her husband, Tom, have operated Foxhollow Poultry Farm for 8 years. They started with emus in the early days, which according to Tai, were a bit difficult. She told us emus are very fast birds, they can reach speeds of nearly 30 mph, which allowed them to scale very high fences and resulted in them spending a lot of their time rounding up emus.
Their small family farm now focuses on raising French and heritage poultry, including turkey, chicken, geese and ducks. They also sell eggs and some produce at their stand on 4th Street at the Des Moines Farmer's Market.
What really impressed us is how dedicated Foxhollow Farm is to providing their customers with a great product. They raise their poultry and breeding stock humanely, with access to the outdoors to roam freely, and with plenty of room when they are indoors. They use no anti-biotics or growth hormones in any of their poultry or egg producing hens.
It was so fun to see such healthy birds wandering around the farm, eating grass and bugs. They are given supplemental feed rations, which, according to their website is vegetarian feed with added flax seed for increased Omega 3.
Tai gave them some treats while we were there - ears of sweet corn and oranges - and they sure enjoyed that on a 100 degree day.
There were so many varieties of chickens! Tai knows each and every one too, and while we toured the farm we learned a lot about the distinct qualities of each one. I knew I'd never remember all of the information (should have taken notes!), but just look how beautiful they are!
The specialty breed at Foxhollow Poultry Farm is a poulet rouge type chicken. They raise a lot of this type of chicken for metro area chefs that love the more intense flavor it provides. These chickens take longer to raise than the standard "broiler" chicken you'd find in the grocery store. The body composition is different, as well, and the taste and texture is fantastic.
I took so many photos during our visit, so I'll just let you enjoy some of the great birds we saw. I think this one was one of the 'naked neck' varities, but whatever it is, it's a beauty. UPDATE: Tai says this is a Chocolate Turkey. Oops.
This was inside the chicken house - lots of birds just hanging out, wandering around. It was pretty cool.
The colors were amazing.
These peacocks were way up on the rafters. We used to have a peacock that hung around our house for a summer, but that's another story. These were beautiful.
I think this one was some sort of lavender variety - just gorgeous colors.
Foxhollow Poultry Farm partners with a group in Bloomfield that takes care of processing their poultry for sale. Tai drives down there once a week to pick up birds that they will sell at the farmer's market or at the farm.
Tai said that egg production has been down due to the extreme heat, but she did manage to find these 3 eggs while we were there. Different colors from different varieties and ages of chickens.
Of course we couldn't leave without some chicken and eggs for ourselves. Here's what Grant picked out. We also scored some patty pan squash that was excellent.
And we enjoyed the flavorful chicken the next night - really, you need to do a taste test for yourselves with a grocery store broiler and a Foxhollow Farm chicken side by side. There truly is no comparison. The flavor from the poulet rouge breed is so much better!
So, the next time you're wandering the Downtown Des Moines Farmer's Market, stop at one of our favorite vendors, Foxhollow Poultry Farm - we know you'll appreciate the hard work and dedication to quality they give their products. Not to mention the excellent meal you'll have!
Also, we'd like to thank Tai for taking time out of her busy day to let us tour her farm and see her amazing birds. We had a great time.
Foxhollow Poultry Farm
12898 NE 56th Street
Elkhart, IA 50073
More information at www.foxhollowpoultryfarm.com
Check out their Facebook page here