Somewhere along a canyon road in the small town of Lompoc, you'll come across a covey of quail resting under the shade of mature oaks, a rooster fluffing up its feathers in defiance and a flock of hens bathing in the dust of a family-owned farm. You'll smile at the four-legged mascots — Conner, Walker, George and Bandit — lounging lazily in the grass with their feathered family.
You'll find Megan Raff out by the coops, collecting freshly laid eggs from the hundreds of chickens that freely range about the ranch; or you'll find her on the computer, answering emails and coordinating deliveries for her husband, Jeremy Raff, who brings beautiful breeds of chickens into the homes of their new families.
This idyllic operation, dubbed Dare 2 Dream Farms, began by accident in 2009. Newly transplanted from the city, the couple moved into the modest ranch (Jeremy's childhood abode) to care for his grandfather. They refurbished the land and created a small farm to keep Grandpa Raff involved and active. First there were quail. Then a few chickens. Then a few more chickens. And when they couldn't keep up with the amount of eggs their chickens were laying, they started selling to local sustainable grocers in Solvang and Isla Vista. A business was soon born.
These days, Dare 2 Dream Farms supplies four natural food markets and two CSAs in Southern California with truly cage-free, pastured, organic eggs. Their chickens roam the farm all day, grazing on fields of rye grass and black oil sunflowers, and a buffet of bugs that gives their yolks a brilliant orange color. They roost wherever they please at night — even if that means up in the trees. The lucky ladies live as all chickens should live, outside and happy and wholesome.
Knowing that many other people (especially those in the city) are starting to take an interest in raising their own food, Dare 2 Dream provides urban chicken keepers with all that they need to raise a healthy flock. This includes a variety of standard, heritage, and rare breeds to choose from, as well as handcrafted coops and all-inclusive packages with waterers, feeders, animal feed, and even pine shavings thrown in. Just add a backyard and a lot of love.
"We didn't know much when we started!" said the duo. "We only had a dream. It's the same dream millions of city farmers had when they started, and it's a wonderful dream to realize. It only requires you to try."
A visit to the farm will allow you to choose from the babies: chicks that require time in a brooder to stay warm and develop feathers; or the teenagers: pullets that are only a few weeks away from egg-laying.
And speaking of laying, each breed has special characteristics that dictate what color eggs it lays. Want a distinctive baby blue egg? An Easter Egger lays an average of four or five per week. You might even end up with an Easter Egger that lays pink or green eggs! Or choose the reliable Plymouth Rock breed, which lays five to six large, beautiful brown eggs per week — a baker's dream.
If you can't stop by the farm, you can make arrangements for Jeremy — yes, you get the man himself — to deliver your new flock right to your door. Dare 2 Dream travels frequently between Northern and Southern California, with routes that include the San Francisco Bay Area, Central Coast, Greater Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego.
Dare 2 Dream Farms is open by appointment only, Monday through Saturday from 8am to sundown, and Sunday from 10am to sundown. Contact the farm or check the current delivery schedule for available dates.
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