by Laura Rodley
The chickens at Lucky B Farm lay their eggs according to the sun’s schedule. At peak season in summer, they lay 12 to 15 dozen a day. Right now as the sun sets lower in the sky earlier at night, they are laying three dozen eggs a day. As their laying schedule is determined solely by natural light, there are no lights kept on in their shed at night.
“I like my birds to be natural,” said farm owner Dennis Bruffee, best known as Denny. He bought the farm in 1984.
There are currently 200 hens, hybrids of six breeds, including Aracuanas, Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rocks. They were up to 350, but as some were older, they were culled. “Right now as we speak, there are eggs in the incubator and we’ll be up to 300 again.”
For 12 years, he has been selling vegetables at his busy self-serve roadside farmstand that he has grown at his five-and-a-half-acre farm along Route 112 in Buckland, MA, where he lives with his partner Linda Bickford. This year, he decided to just sell eggs.
He also has a cow and two calves, looking toward selling beef on the hoof, and raising beef for his family. The very tall half Holstein, half Black Angus heifer is two-and-a-half years old and named Rosebud. Rosebud’s back reaches up five feet tall, almost to his shoulders, and weighs 1,300 to 1,350, due to her having Holstein bloodlines.
Rosebud bore a heifer calf in June that Bruffee named June, which he is going to keep. Because she produced an overabundance of milk, enough for two calves, Bruffee adopted a red and white Holstein bull calf from his nearby neighbors, the Willis’, who own Clessons River Farm. He put table salt on the calf’s back from its tail up to just behind its ears and placed the calf near Rosebud as her own calf was nursing. As it was early summer, Rosebud promptly licked the salt off, and in doing so, adopted the calf right away, “an instant adoption.” The calf also accepted her as its new mother.
Besides vegetables, eggs and now beef, Bruffee has also owned and raised Bluetick Coon Hounds at his farm. Kennel clubs have varying theories as to the exact origin of Bluetick Coon Hounds in the United States, most based on when George Washington was gifted two to five French hounds by the Marquis de Lafayette.
Bruffee has a 10-year-old Bluetick Coonhound named Bluebell and a six-year-old named Bluebonnet from her litter. “I’ve had coon dogs and rabbit dogs since I was four or five years old. I come from a line of hunters, who hunted coon and rabbit and deer, all around Western Massachusetts.”
He is also raising Mottled Houdans, a breed of chickens that originated from the village of Houdan in France. They are mottled black and white, slightly resembling the checkerboard harlequin design, with a crest and flowing muff. Another outstanding characteristic is that they have a fifth toe. They are good layers of white eggs.
“When I was a little boy, I remember sitting at home with my grandmother and looking at a box of pictures. There was a picture of my father, about the same age I was at the time, holding a chicken I’d never seen before in my life,” said Bruffee. His father informed him that it was a Mottled Houdan rooster whose name was King. Although it was strikingly beautiful, his father couldn’t enter it in shows because it had a crooked toe.
When Bruffee entered 7th grade, he saw a catalog that sold Mottled Houdans and promptly ordered some. “I started showing them in fairs and won every place I went because no one else had any of that breed.”
He’s raising more Mottled Houdans now, and trying to, “Bring that breed back to make it a better looking bird,” he said. They are kept in their own pen.