A Brief History of Us
Approximately 5 years ago, the McAuley family purchased this retired dairy farm in Granville County, NC. John and Betsie had served as Joel Salatin’s second apprentice on Polyface Farm in Virginia way back in 1996. They had a pastured poultry business after that based in Youngsville, NC. A few years later, John’s career in technology took off and they decided to leave farming behind.
As their children got older, they wanted them to experience the joys, lessons, hard work, and entrepreneurship that a farming business brings. So in 2014, they purchased this farm and started Healthy Hen Farms which quickly became the Triangle’s premier source of pastured poultry raised on certified organic, soy-free feed. At the peak, the farm was producing over 5000 pastured chickens per year utilizing only about 6 of the available acres of pasture.
Now is a different season for them with their children starting to go off to college and grow into young adulthood. It is time to turn over the keys to the place they poured their heart and soul into for the past 5 years as they restored the farm to a fully functional, working farm like it used to be.
Farm Overview & Tour
We’ll start with a short overview of the farm. It has just under 47 acres of land with about half of that in healthy pastures and the other half in timber. The home is located on the highest point of the farm and has a circle drive around the entire farmyard, giving easy access to all of the many barns and buildings. The farm rolls down to creeks on each side and the back and has a high ridge full of hardwoods and pines on the back of the property. There are three ponds on the farm and two creeks that flow year round. The entire perimeter of the farm, even in the wooded areas, is fenced with a new 6 strand, electrified, high-tensile fence that includes a strand of barbed wire directly on the ground to prevent predators from digging to get in or your livestock/dogs digging to get out! You can raise just about any farm animal you can think of on this farm and it’s already set up and ready to go.
In addition to the setup for animals, the farm has many established trees and plants you will also enjoy. The farmyard and surrounding area has over a dozen mature, producing pecan trees. 25 Dunstan Chestnut trees were also planted in tree tubes and staked. These will begin producing as early as 3-4years from now and are capable of producing 1000-2000 pounds of chestnuts per acre. There are seedless blackberry bushes, a large blueberry bush that gives us over 5 gallons of blueberries each year, a lovely pear tree, fig trees, and persimmon trees scattered throughout the woods on the farm.
It is also a wildlife paradise. We have harvested several large whitetail bucks from the farm and routinely capture trophy deer on the wildlife cameras. There are plenty of turkeys and we even have a population of bobwhite quail on the farm. People comment on the quail all the time when they hear them because for many, they haven’t heard or seen quail in years.
Below we attempt to give you a virtual tour of the farm. Obviously you can’t experience the entirety of the farm without visiting, but we have tried our best to give you an idea of what you will be getting with this farm. You can click on any image and it will enlarge the image in a light box.
Below we’ve included just a bunch of shots from around the farm at different times of the year.
This is the overhead view of the farm. You can see the entry from the road. The gate is far enough off the road so that multiple cars or tractor-trailers can pull into the driveway and stop at the gate without being out in the road. You can see the three larger ponds indicated here. There is a smaller swale in the woods that stays year round but I wouldn’t really call it a pond.
The driveway enters from the road and wraps all the way around the house and farm yard as you can see. Most of the usable buildings on the farm are accessible directly from the drive. The perimeter fence wraps all the way around the farm boundary (about 2 miles total) and crosses all the creeks with creek crossings. It will keep your livestock and dogs in and predators out. We let our livestock dogs roam the entire farm because they can only go to the boundaries. There is also a 3 wire fence that separates the farm from the driveway and farmyard/house. This allows you to keep your animals out in the pastures without having to worry about them getting through the gate when someone opens it…or on the porch if they happen to be a porch dog!
You can see the pines in the middle of the farm. This area used to be pasture according to our neighbor who grew up on the farm. It now is covered with 50-60 year old pines according to the forest service. The sides and back ridges are covered with hardwoods and a few very old pines that the forest service aged to over 110 years old. Lots of red oak, white oak, hickory, poplar, beech, maple, etc. The entire farm has paths to make all of these places easily accessible.