M. Denlinger Farm
Recently I had the privilege of visiting one of our farms along with others from Nature’s Yoke. When we pulled into the driveway, the manicured lawn, flowerbeds and well maintained buildings told us that, like many family farms in our area, the owners truly care about their farm. Happy to show us around, the owner was friendly, knowledgeable, and at ease talking to us about the history of his farm and its development over the years.
His wife joined us and it was evident from the start that they make a great team. A lovely sign designed by Mrs. Denlinger caught my eye, telling how this family views the simple egg as a lasting testimony to the reality of God. Inside the packing room, a low shelf ran along the wall holding various soccer balls, volleyballs, and basketballs. Why is there a mini locker area in an egg packing room? The answer tells a lot about family farming in America. It is still alive and well, and truly means what is says – families, working together at a profession that is also their lifestyle. In this case the Denlingers, who joined Nature’s Yoke in 2002, have four sons who have helped them farm since they were small. The family is able to work the farm by themselves, filling in naturally for each other since they all know the routine so well. When they have needed a day or afternoon of extra help in the past, they have called on their young people’s friends or church groups, making it a great time of hard work, good exercise, and of course pizza at the end of the day! On a normal day the family enjoys the fruits of their labor from their hens and their garden, often with a broccoli, tomato and cheese crustless quiche.
The farm has a unique design in that there are two barns with a connecting overhead bridge which enables eggs to be moved from one barn to the packing room located in a room off of the second barn. We were intrigued by the means taken to ensure that each flock’s eggs stay separate, including individual tags, tagged palettes and even cameras. Why all the trouble? Well, this farm, in addition to having all cage free and certified humane hens, also has a fertile egg flock. The barn areas and packing procedures are kept completely separate and we were blessed to see the carefulness and exactness used to ensure this. At the end of the visit, however, it was the farmer himself, with his integrity and trustworthiness, who made us happy to be dealing with local, family run farms like his.