We are Matthew and Jerri Betsinger and we are the owners of Abba’s Acres.
It all started in 2010, when we moved with our 3 children: Lauren, Daniel, and Joshua to purchase 8 acres and a house in Richmondville, New York that had belonged to Jerri’s grandparents. At that time, just her grandmother remained and the land was used only for producing hay and watching wildlife. Located in beautiful Schoharie County we quickly fell in love with the property and were excited to do something more with it.
In 2011, we decided to buy our first chickens. We bought 12 chickens from our local farm store. Being on the frugal side, we felt buying straight run chickens was the most economical choice. We figured our odds of hens to roosters had to be close to 50/50. We took our chicks home, raised them up in our dining room until they were ready to go outside to the small coop we had built. Let me warn you, straight run is not 50/50, it is more like 80/20. We had so many roosters! Nonetheless, we loved our chickens and it wasn’t long before they were providing us with more eggs than we could eat. We began offering eggs to friends who fell in love with them and wanted more. So, we got more chickens (this time we bought pullets only). Soon we had 12 laying hens, then 50, and our first regular customers.
By 2012, more and more people wanted our eggs and we didn’t have enough to go around. This was the start of everything. We loved that something as small as an egg was bringing people to our little “farm” and giving us a chance to share our lives with them. It was then we decided that perhaps we are poultry farmers and should make it official. So, that is what we did – Abba’s Acres was born.
Now, since we were officially farmers we needed to start getting serious. We knew that if we were going to farm, we were going to offer healthy and wholesome foods. We stepped back and looked at the natural way a chicken lives. What was it created to do and eat? It was very clear to us that the commercial way of raising chickens was not natural, instead raising chickens on pasture seemed much more normal. So that is what we did. We already allowed our laying flock to roam the yard looking for bugs, eating grass, and enjoying the sunshine. We saw the difference raising a bird on pasture made in the quality and healthiness of our eggs. Now we wanted to expand into meat chickens, and as we soon learned, the same benefits of being on pasture applied to the meat as well as the eggs.
Over the years our farm has really grown. Our layer flock is always growing to keep up with demand. It is now pushing 200 birds or more. We have also switched all of our egg layers over to heritage breeds such as Buff Orpingtons, Delawares, Black Astrolarps, and more. Besides selling eggs, we also have started selling live chickens. This has allowed many of our customers to start their own flock or replace older birds. Our meat bird flock is always growing as well. We now raise several hundred Cornish Cross chickens to be sold as whole birds or parts. We also have a heritage meatbird flock that consists mostly of Delawares. These meat birds are sold as whole birds and have amazing flavor. We have branched out into other poultry such as turkeys, ducks, and guineas – of course, all pasture raised.
When we aren’t working with our chickens and other poultry, we find the time to grow produce, make jams, soap, chicken stock, and even dog treats. There is always something going on around the farm, especially in the kitchen.
As our children have grown, we have encouraged them to find something in the farm that they love. We have encouraged and helped them start their own small businesses within the farm that will one day give them the option of supporting their own family. Lauren has decided baking is her passion. She started out offering cookies at our farmer’s markets. Then she decided to try her hand at fudge. Since we have a herd of registered Nigerian Dwarf goats, she settled on making goat’s milk fudge and has done quite well. Daniel loves his chickens, but really found his passion when he convinced his grandpa to teach him how to tap trees and make maple syrup. Daniel was hooked before the first drop of sap fell into the bucket on the tree. Daniel continues to produce his maple syrup each year, but has also started making Hickory Syrup as well. Joshua has decided to start his adventure in honeybees. He has many goals set for his future in bees including honey, candles, beeswax, and more. It is amazing watching our children grow into such mature and responsible people. They are quickly becoming the future generation of Abbas Acres.