Near Goldendale there’s a farm with hundreds of chickens producing eggs and an unusually useful kind of fertilizer.
In 1975, Walter and Betty Fahlenkamp bought their farm just northwest of Goldendale where they raised their children. They have been farming the land for many years and have been trying to find the best way to improve their crops to feed their grass-fed angus.
In 2017, Walter was inspired to try his own friendly fertilizer: chicken manure. Compared to commercial fertilizer, which is generally salt based, chicken manure contains many important nutrients for the soil including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Chicken manure has also been found to be as effective as lime in improving the Ph of the soil. Due to the salt content in commercial fertilizer, farmland is often lacking in earthworm activity, but with the use of natural manure fertilizer, the Fahlenkamp’s fields are bursting with earthworms. Earthworms can help aerate the soil, as well as providing nitrogen, phosphorus, and tons of beneficial bacteria.
Walter started out with a small 35 chicken operation that quickly grew into the 650 chicken farm he and his wife run today. They started with building small portable chicken sheds to be moved throughout the field, roughly two times a week, leaving manure where they had been placed. The growth of the grass quickly improved, making it obvious this was something to pursue. Walter converted his barn into two chicken coops, which now hold his chicken operation today. He mixes sawdust in with the manure to help insulate the barn for the wintertime, as well as help breakdown the manure. In the spring, they do a manure harvest and collect all the soon-to-be fertilizer. Last spring, the manure from the chickens fertilized roughly 35-40 acres of land, and Walter has plans of covering even more land this coming spring.
The Fahlenkamps not only use the manure from the chickens; they also harvest the eggs and the chickens for meat. They sell many of the eggs, but what they cannot sell they donate to the Goldendale Food Bank. The chickens are fed a barley and soybean mix, as well as a corn and soybean mix. The chickens also get plenty of opportunity to eat natural, living proteins since they are cage-free.
To buy eggs, you can reach Walter or Betty at (503) 261-1997 or (509) 261-2154.