Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nick Rupiper and His Chicks

Nick Rupiper of Rup Nut Farm has recently opened a very small destination farm stand on a private driveway off 16331 Norrbom Road, north of Sonoma, out First Street West. You’re not likely to stumble across it. On a regular day only about five cars pass by. But two or more days a week when the trapeze crowd gathers to fly on a rig located down the road a bit, the stand is likely to do a lot of business. Nick’s Chicks, now numbering about 90, provide the eggs. His garden provides the rest. When I took this photo in October, it was apples. Now he’s heading toward kale, chard, and Brussels sprouts.

Nick’s been raising chickens for a couple of years. He was introduced to them in a psych class at Sonoma State taught by professor and organic farmer, Shepherd Bliss, who also raises chickens. Bliss says, “Chickens are the farm animals that I personally find most healing…. They can be funny, as well as beautiful. I enjoy watching and hearing chickens dance, talk to each other, clown around and dig into the Earth with glee, and herald the dawn.” Bliss contends that human and chicken interactions have a lot in common and that humans could learn a lot from them. He continues, “I sometimes take chickens as ‘Teaching Assistants’ to my psychology classes at Sonoma State University, much to the delight of my students.” Nick found Bliss’s enthusiasm inspiring and contagious. He also got some first hand knowledge from his friend Tobias, who lives on an adjacent piece of the property, and has always had a chicken or two as part of his magic show.

Nick started out with three chickens, then bought six more, then another six, then another fifty and another fifty. Currently he has about 15 varieties. They live just across from the farm stand and at the Sonoma Garden Park. He says, “I raise my chickens with care and treat them the way I would like to be treated if I were a chicken. That means fresh green grass to run, peck and scratch on, a clean coop, organic feed, and fresh organic fruits and vegetables from behind the market (they compost otherwise, so they let me take it to feed the girls). I really do think these chickens are the most happy chickens I have seen.”

Now that he has a fair amount of experience with chickens, he’s building chicken coops for people in the area who want their own. In addition, he plays drums with the Green String Farm Band and does some teaching on the side.

The stand is open intermittently so best email him at before making the trip. He also sells his eggs at the Sonoma Garden Park on Seventh Street East on Saturday mornings and occasionally at Readers Books.

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