Magnolia Forest was born on a whim in March of 2010. We were in the local feed store picking out seeds for the summer garden, and they had just gotten their first shipment of chicks in. Neither my wife nor I were raised on a farm, neither of us had ever had any experience with chickens, but they were so cute we just thought it might be fun. We bought 4 little Buff Orpington pullets, the minimal needed supplies, and headed home with not a clue that our lives had just changed forever.
That first year with those chickens was so much fun. I found plans online and built my first coop and run, I still remember the day I got my first egg, I still remember when a 25lb bag of feed would last a month... We both fell in love with those chickens, and by the second year we were ready to expand. I built a bigger coop, a bigger pen, and bought 12 more pullets. Barred Rocks and Easter Eggers from the feed store. Now we had way more eggs than we could eat, so friends and family were learning the difference between farm eggs and store bought eggs.
By now we were experienced chicken people, and that original coop was too small to be used any more. I was going to tear it down, but my wife said she had seen these chickens when she was a little girl, and she wanted a flock of her own to put in the small coop. They were called “Silkies”. That flock was the introduction of the first rooster to the farm, and that’s when everything changed. Silkies are hatching machines. Nothing makes a silkie happier than to sit on a clutch of eggs for 21 days, then strut into the yard with 6-12 cheeping little babies in tow. When we started hatching our own chicks on our own farm, we went through a population explosion.
For the next couple of years I added a few more pens and tried a couple of different breeds. My first venture into true breeding with breeder quality birds was with Ameraucanas. They were beautiful birds, but were just always a little flighty. The colorful egg baskets the Ameraucanas and Easter Eggers provided were what led me to the black copper Marans. I wanted the dark brown eggs to offset the lighter colors in the cartons that we were now selling to regular customers.
After my first year with the black copper Marans, I knew that I wanted to focus on this breed. The hens were so docile, the roosters were great flock protectors, but not aggressive towards me, and those eggs... At the end of the first season, when I had held on to the birds I knew I wanted to breed forward, I had a decision to make. Did I keep building more and more pens, trying to stretch myself out on all these different breeds, or downsize and focus on these black coppers that I had found I truly loved? It was a pretty easy decision. I sold off two pens of Ameraucanas and dedicated them to expanding my flocks of black coppers. Over the last year our customers have come from further and further away, and with more and more mentions on social media, we are getting more requests from out of state. We knew that eventually we would end up shipping, so I contacted the SC NPIP department about getting our inspection. We were all ready to go when I read two words that made me rebuild the entire operation that had taken 7 years to build the first time: “common walls”. Individual flocks can have no beak to beak contact, they can’t share common walls between pens. As our farm had grown, I had built pens adjoining to pens that were already in place. If I made those walls solid, it would have passed inspection, but it would have ruined the view, and the enjoyment, of our chickens. I spent the next six months rebuilding 5 pens, 5 coops, 2 growout pens, and 4 brooders.
As we enter 2018, we are excited to enter the next chapter in the life of Magnolia Forest Farm. While we continue to focus on maintaining and improving our line of black and blue copper Marans, we still enjoy the chipmunk chicks and colorful egg baskets the Easter Eggers provide and the seemingly endless supply of chicks that magically appear in the silkie pen each summer.