Happy Harvest Farm

Saturday, April 11, 2020

This photo essay was printed in the Volume 15, Number 2 April/May 2020 issue of Backyard Poultry Magazine.

Happy Harvest Farm by Kelli Lage

I grew up in a small Iowa farming community. It was common to have classmates that lived on a farm, but the town kids were different. I was a town kid and the concept of farming was foreign to me. I couldn’t imagine waking up earlier than 7:00 in the morning, no less to get up that early and do farm chores. In elementary school, my class would take field trips centered around farm safety. I thought to myself, “When am I ever going to need this?” Then at the age of 19 I met, fell in love with, and married, yeah you guessed it - a farmer. 

My husband Ryan has been passionate about farming for as long as he can remember. He grew up on the family farm often helping his dad complete farm chores. When I met Ryan I admired the hard work he did as a farmer, but it never crossed my mind as something I could do as well. However, as our marriage began, I watched him work and I was drawn in. Over time he’s shown me the beauty of planting something and watching it grow. Without him, I would have never discovered my passion for agriculture. 

When Ryan saw my interest, he joyfully began to teach me. Since we both found so much delight in farming, it became a shared goal to start a farm of our own someday. At Ryan’s family farm we have beef cattle and grow corn and soybeans, but beginning our own journey always stayed in the back of our minds. 

After a couple years of marriage, we moved to the country. The previous owners decided to include their chickens along with the acreage, thus Happy Harvest Farm was born. Our dog Cedar can often be seen running around the acreage with a skip in her step. She likes to feel just as included as us, so she has dubbed herself the professional digger for planting. Chickens are now a huge part of our tiny farm. On Happy Harvest Farm we have 20 chickens, including 10 Rhode Island Reds and 10 Easter Eggers. We also plant vegetables. In the summers we travel to the local farmers market selling our eggs and produce.


A staple of our farm is the bright robin’s-egg-colored coop that Ryan handbuilt over a year ago. The coop stands 10 feet tall, 16 feet long, and 12 feet wide. Many pass by our acreage and it has become a focal point of conversation when we see friends and community members. I selected the color, because I wanted something on our farm that always brought cheer, even in the midst of gray winter months. 

For myself a first-generation farmer, and Ryan a fifth-generation farmer, we often see farming differently, but one aspect we both agree on wholeheartedly is that there is nothing better than doing it together.
After I thrifted this miniature bench pictured the idea came to have our spring chicks model it. If you know chickens, especially chicks, then you know I have about 100 outtakes for this photo.

All of my favorite things combine - tea, chicks, and photography. This was the first and only time I brought a chick into our home. It made for a cute photo, but this little one kept wanting to scamper off and explore our home. It seems all of our chicks like to learn about the world around them.
Here is our first rooster, Arnold, is pictured eating watermelon, with some chickens behind him. Arnold has since passed on, but we have fond memories. All our chickens love eating watermelon on warm summer days.

 It interests me to see how eggs from the same breed can look so different.  It’s always exciting to check the laying box each morning. Speckled eggs are one of my favorites.


This little yellow chick would have been content sitting in the strawberry tin all day. She made my photoshoot easy since she was ready to fall asleep in there.


This was the first time we added a breed other than Rhode Island Reds to our flock. I was quite excited about the color variety so I found three willing chick models of each breed and set them in the basket.


My favorite thing about new spring chicks is how curious they are. We bring them out to explore the world as they grow.


Here our lively dog Cedar is pictured by our John Deere 3010. She’s most content when she’s spending time outside. She is the best farm helper that we could ask for.
 Ryan, in the process of building our coop. It took him less than a week to complete.
Our chickens free-range during the day, and sleep in here to stay safe from predators. In Iowa, common predators are foxes, raccoons, and coyotes.
Once Ryan and I named Happy Harvest Farm we commissioned a stamp to use on our cartons. We were thrilled with the final product. I always find it cool when customers post photos to show off our logo.

This photo taken of the magazine article was shared on Backyard Poultry Magazine's Instagram page.

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