Deer Run Farm

Allison's Journey

Thanks for visiting the blog! Allison's taking on big changes in her life, going from city girl to farm girl, from full time graphic designer to full time chicken farmer. Follow her on her journey by checking in to her blog frequently!
Posted 10/4/2017 10:36am by Allison Rostad.

Am I able to welcome myself back if it's my own blog? 

It's been too long since I've last posted, but if you've visited the website lately, you'd have known its due to being in the midst of our first fall hatch ever. I'm not sure I can even describe in the least how stressed out I'v been during this hatch season. You could certainly ask Josh and I'm sure he'd tell you I portrayed the devil occasionally!

On the outside I may look like I handle stress and high pressure situations well, but on the inside I'm going crazy! With just one more hatch week to go I'm looking forward to some relief! Setting the eggs and allowing them to incubate over 3 weeks is the easy part. Not knowing what could go wrong in the meantime is the stressful part --- really, really, really stressful part!

Since this is all still relatively new to us we're still working out kinks within our set up and get Whitmore Farm's equipment calibrated correctly in it's new home. Our first hatch went so much better than I was imagining in my head. Of course, I did have Josh's help that day. The second hatch was a nightmare!! And I still don't know why. Everything we knew to do and had done previously was done in the same manner as the first hatch, but somehow our hatch rate dropped significantly. I cannot express how frustrated, panicked and stress I was last Tuesday. Immediately thought to myself there was no way I would be able to fill all of my orders in time now. Yesterday's hatch was much better so I feel a little more relieved than I was, but still borderline worried I won't fill the rest of my orders next week.

Hopefully by spring I'll have boosted my confidence in hatching and the process that I won't be as nearly stressed out as I have been recently. We have plans to evaluate all of our equipment to make sure all is running to it's best potential by spring time. I hope to have a functional office by then too. This way all my orders and forms can all be organized in hopes to organize my thoughts a little better too. We plan to have our automatic waterer project complete before winter to alleviate extra work of having to take waterers to the chickens everyday. We'd love to have more of our TP Coops built for our grow-out pens before spring also. Lots to do and I hope to be able to share with you as we go. 

I've been photographing our projects as we've been doing them, but have yet had the chance to put everything together on a finished project too share with everyone. As soon as I do I'll add it to the blog - so stay tuned!



Posted 8/21/2017 11:07am by Allison Rostad.

As much as I wanted to do a Facebook live video of our chicks hatching out, I had my hands full! Sorry to anyone who got to the end of the last post and was looking forward to the live feed. We're hoping to try again this coming Sunday!

Anyways... We... Have... CHICKS!!!

Lots and lots and lots of them! We set roughly 400 of each breed and currently have 516 babies running around in a larger brooder and 296 that just hatched yesterday in our day old brooder. We still have one more hatch to take place on Sunday. So far we've had almost a 75% hatch rate which is pretty good for us newbies!

Due to all the vaccinating we do on the day their born, I haven't been able to take too many photos of the process. Luckily, Josh has, but he's not around for me to pull his images to share with you. Here's what I'll promise you readers though: next post will include several cute photos of the chickies, but you'll have to stay tuned and be on the lookout for the next post!


Posted 8/9/2017 10:16am by Allison Rostad.

In roughly 48 hours we will be hatching out our first -ever- chicks to grow out to replace our older hens! How exciting!!!

Of course, along with the excitement comes the preparation work!

Over the weekend Josh and I finished the walls in our old hog barn where we plan to raise these chicks. Instead of putting a lot of money into the project we opted to use pallets that we had laying around the farm as the middle wall structure and then screwed plywood to it to make it solid. Easy enough! I still have some chicken wire to hang to keep them from jumping one wall to enter another pen as they get older and experiment with their wings. Luckily, they don't start flying higher than 4 feet for awhile so I have time!

Yesterday, I pulled apart the hatchers so I could clean the fan and heating elements. Boy was a surprised by the amount of down feathers, dust and dirt that covered everything!!

We have 2 hatcher units. Each of them took about an hour and a half to clean. Took a shop vac to it first to get as much sucked up and out of the way as possible. I disassembled the unit completely removing the fan from the box. I had a bucket of warm water with a bit of bleach added for disinfecting. In some spots I had to apply pressure and scrub and others it washed away without a worry. For the fans, I attempted to just wash everything with a cloth, but never again! Could hardly get into any of the small nooks. Instead, I put in under our commercial sink sprayer head and held the wires out of the way. Once I got it hosed off I took the shop vac to it just to suck up any extra water that could damage it. Eventually it was clean enough to be put back together and ready for Friday when we switch the chicks from the incubators to the hatchers!

From now on, equipment will be on a regular maintenance schedule to hopefully avoid this much dust, down and dirt build up in the future!

Our brooder is all set up too! We won't turn it on until Saturday evening to get warmed up for Sunday's arrivals. Other than that, I think we're all set for our baby chicks!

If you don't follow us on Facebook, you should! It's likely we'll use the new "live" feature on Sunday as the chicks are hatching. We will be administering the mareks vaccination at that time too and you may want to check it out!

Stay tuned!!! 

Posted 7/26/2017 9:41am by Allison Rostad.

Famous - having a widespread reputation, usually of a favorable nature; renowned; celebrated.

I suppose everyone has their own idea of what famous is. Above is the definition found on You may be wondering why I'm even talking about fame when it comes to this chicken journey of mine. On Monday of this week, I woke up to a text from Josh (he leaves for work by 5:30am) with a photo of myself on the front page of the local newspaper. Yes, I knew there was going to be an article in the paper, but I had no idea that it was interesting enough to be cover-worthy! So no, it's not real fame or anything, but multiple people have been asking, "what's it like to be famous?". 

To be honest, it's HARD! This whole thing is still very new to me! I have a lot I still need to learn and quite frankly, it's a bit overwhelming at times. 

This is the second article on our farm to make the front page of a newspaper within 3 months. It was actually kind of exciting the first time we were written about in The Lancaster Farming newspaper - the whole family was apart of it and it was about our cows; something that's been done for the past 21 years. That's a story I'm not afraid to answer questions about! Although I'm pleased with the press and the opportunity to be on the front page of The Frederick Newspost for the area to see, I'm just not ready for all the questions about the operation. 

Luckily for me, I do have super understanding customers that bare with me as I get answers from Will when I need them. It also helps that I'm being asked these questions now. I've asked Will many questions already, but there's so much I didn't even think about until someone else has asked me. Essentially those of you that have been interested in purchasing from us that have had questions - you're the ones really pushing me to learn more and more everyday. 

Instead of famous, I'd like to be able to be called an expert one day. To be called a famous chicken hatchery owner just sounds odd; like how does one even get in that category?! But to be called an expert chicken hatchery owner sounds like something I could live with :)

The links above are connected to the articles about our farm. Here's an additional one done in another local paper, The Catoctin Banner, from last year when Josh and I first started our retail sales of beef:What's in the Beef at Deer Run Farm?

Posted 7/10/2017 10:58am by Allison Rostad.

We've been working extremely hard here on the farm lately; working 8 am to roughly 9 pm most days. Every minute of every hour of every day has been required to get as much done as we have in the last month and a half. There's still so much more to do, but we're sooooo close!

I promised progress photos last blog, so here you are:

Transferring of the coops

You don't realize how big the coops are for each flock until they're being driven down the road on a tractor! All of the flocks have been successfully delivered to our farm as of last Wednesday.

chickens in the garden

I'd have to say there girls are just as happy here as they were at Whitmore Farm. They're already out being adventurous. This young Welsummer was the first to discover the garden on her own. It only took about 3 days before they began to invade the yard!

building material

We spent a good deal of our evenings into the early night framing the interior of the pre-fab building we had delivered on June 1st.

interior building construction

Luckily for us, we have family that have connections and know people that are able to help us out as we need it. Matt, our electrician, has been great working as a one man team to outfit our entire building.

interior insulation

I, solely, spent a few good days doing nothing but installing insulation in our building. (Thank God I'm finished and hopefully never again! Do you know how ITCHY this stuff is?!)

Interior walls installation

Skipping forward a week or so through the process, we have ceiling painted and hung and FRP on the walls! 

We did run into a little issue getting our newly purchased, used, 3 door refrigerator into the washroom. Turns out, you should always measure and then measure again on a door opening or item in which you want to put through that said door opening... Needless to say, we had to pull the door and frame off of the building, barely slide our 1100lb. refrigerator inside the building and then re-install the door. Until just this past weekend, we've had to work around the fridge to get everything complete.

Today I will finish painting and sealing the floors in washroom and hatchery room. Josh will be finalizing (hopefully) the plumbing to the washroom this evening. If all goes well, we just might have the opportunity to move hatchery equipment from Whitmore Farm to our before the weekend's end. 

June has been a long hard month for us, but we think July we will finally see the handwork pay off!

Posted 6/21/2017 8:52am by Allison Rostad.


Ah, so nice to get that out :)

There's been soon much happening lately. Between finishing the hatchery building (which is coming along nicely), preparing a grow out room for future chicks and taking care of the chickens we've already received there's just not enough time in the day! 

The walls are up in the hatchery building. I finally finished the insulation in it and most of the plywood is up (thanks to all of Josh's hard work after he gets off of work). Today I'll (hopefully) finish painting the ceiling plywood so we're prepared for FRP on the walls tomorrow. We're so close to having it done, yet still so far away! 

The "to-do" list keeps growing. I cross one thing off and add two more every time! I only have time to type this update for you all because I literally have no muscles in my right hand after hardcore painting yesterday. I should be outside tending to the second set of birds that are to be delivered today, but the road crews decided today was a good day to shut down our road to work on a pipe. This is exactly why the to-do list keeps growing! There's so much that happens that we cannot predict - throws us off track. 

I'll be attending the Gaithersburg Market again tomorrow. While it's a nice little break off of the farm, I can't help but imagine all the work I could get done if I was home. If each of you reading could stop for a visit at the market I may feel less guilty not being at the farm ;P, you know you'd like to buy some fresh, pastured eggs and red angus beef!

Next blog I'll be sure to have photos to share. Buying this hatchery has been quite the journey and it's only been a month and a half!

Posted 6/6/2017 2:50pm by Allison Rostad.

The past week and a half has not been the easiest. You'd think leaving your 9-5, Monday through Friday, every week job to work for yourself would be stress relieving,... it certainly hasn't been lately. Who would have thought there would be so much to do in so little time to acquire chickens! 

Besides running all over God's green creation to pick up cheaply-priced, used, commercial equipment (because that's what we can afford as a start-up), I've cleaned out an entire barn once used to house hogs and an entire chicken house that hasn't seen a bath in well over 20 years. I've run to Lowes to purchase lumber for the interior walls of my new building -- and then run it back because God forbid I actually purchase the correct size! Instead of working 8 hours a day, I've found myself working 10-12 hours a day here lately. 

Now, I'm not complaining. I'm just saying... it's been busy! But all for good reason. Plus, I've learned a lot; like how a power washer would be my new best friend and that if I interchange the hand I'm using to cut chicken wire for   windows I'll be less likely to develop a blister on my palm. 

So far we've had our water line dug up and added a "T" where it would come through to my new building, we've had the building delivered on time, the electrician has been by to review the electric plans, we've bought a 3 bowl commercial sink and a hot water heater. We're in the midst of building the interior walls -- just one more to go! --- and we have an inspector coming this Thursday morning to review our plans for the birds and our biosecurity measures.


There's still so much more to do, but I'm definitely looking forward to the weeks to come as we're soon to start the transfer of coops to our farm as long as we're approved by the inspector! I'll be sure to update everyone as things progress, but also check out the farm's Facebook page: - we try to update it as often as we can (or remember to do so).

Posted 5/25/2017 12:59pm by Allison Rostad.

As I've been learning more and more about our newly purchased chickens and absorb as much information about the hatchery business, I've had so many questions. And more so, so many questions I fear that I will be asked by a potential customer without knowing the answer!

While vaccinating our newly hatched baby chicks for Mareck's Disease on Tuesday, the age old question hit me: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I haven't been asked yet, but being in this business, I have a feeling I won't be asked just once...

So to get to the bottom of this and to prepare myself an answer I turned to our handy-dandy Google! AsapScience has a YouTube channel and they did a video where they "took a crack at this curious conundrum". 

Watch Video Here

Now, I'm no scientist, but I do believe the egg came first!

It's true. We already know that no DNA is exactly the same. So they have a point when they discuss the many years of genetics changing over time. We've domesticated the chicken and we specifically breed them amongst their own kind now to keep getting similar DNA. Long before their domestication though, a chicken may not have been a chicken. Like the video explains, a "porto-chicken" (a bird that was not considered a chicken as it had a different genetic make up) could have mated with another and their DNA's created an egg that hatched a chicken (or the genetic make up of a chicken), rather than another photo-chicken. Therefore, the egg came before the chicken!

Pretty amazing how DNA works! 

Now, I may not have made any sense to any of you so I hope you watched the video as I said I'm no scientist. Perhaps there are other opinions out there also, but this one just makes the most sense to me. So if anyone asks, the egg came first and you can tell them Allison at Deer Run Farm told you!

Posted 4/30/2017 12:48pm by Allison Rostad.

If you ever have the opportunity to be your own boss, do it. Not because it'll be easy or because you can do anything you want. Rather because you'll have no-one else to blame if you fail. Sounds harsh, but to me that's living life right. Full accountability for the success of your life and future. 

At the end of June 2017, Josh and I purchased the successful poultry enterprise from our neighbor, Will Morrow from Whitmore Farm. This enterprise would include 4 breeds of chickens that lay eggs for both consumption and hatching. We're talking roughly 200 birds per colony. That's 800 freaking birds! Kind of a big deal as neither Josh nor myself know much about chickens. Pretty big risk when you leave your steady job of 4 years to hope you can pull off all the same success that the previous owners did plus some.

So when I mentioned about accountability... this is what I mean. If I fail at this new business... that's on me. I will have risked everything I already had going for me. I can't fail - for my future's sake!

In an effort to at least look like I know what I'm doing, I first gathered two chicken books in hope to learn as much information on the 4 breeds we will be receiving mid-June. I've been in "training mode" this past week with Will at his farm learning the business while they're finishing up their Spring hatching season before the birds are transferred to our farm. Luckily, I've always been pretty good at absorbing lots of information at one time. 

For instance, I had no idea that the eggs a hen will lay will always have the same shell pattern on every egg! The Delaware breed are mostly white and produce a light tan egg. The Ameracauna breed lay these pretty blue green eggs, but they're by far the worst to collect from - I've got a pretty little scab forming on my right pinky finger from one of them pecking me! Both the Welsummer and Marans lay dark tan eggs. These eggs are the hardest to wash as the color can be rubbed right off! 

Hatching the eggs is like the best thing! They're super cute and fluffy with a ton of energy when they pop out of the shell. I've had to learn how to vaccinate the little ones on their first day of life too. Not my favorite thing to do, but it ensures a healthy beginning for them which is important!

As I learn and attempt to perfect the processes to this business I plan to share my journey with everyone. "The only source of knowledge is experience" and my experiences through this journey could teach someone else something too!



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