INJURY LED JEREMY GARRETT TO FULL-TIME FARMING
Jeremy Garrett doesn’t mind being called a chicken whisperer. He knew from an early age that he had a knack for communicating with animals. He and his cousins used to explore their grandpa’s thousands of acres, which featured an old
barn. One time, his cousins thought a wild cat was in the barn. They sent Garrett in, believing he was the only one in the bunch who could talk to — and deal with —
the feral cat.
Jeremy Garrett doesn’t mind being called a chicken whisperer.
He knew from an early age that he had a knack for communicating with animals. He and his cousins used to explore their grandpa’s thousands of acres, which featured an old barn. One time, his cousins thought a wild cat was in the barn. They sent Garrett in, believing he was the only one in the bunch who could talk to — and deal with — the feral cat.
Garrett thought it was cool that his cousins recognized that gift, even at a young age.
These days, the full-time farmer doesn’t take offense at being called a chicken whisperer.
“I think it’s fantastic,” he said. “I find it offensive when people consider my farming a ‘hobby.’”
Garrett cares for his animals, conducts research and has learned a lot through trial and error.
He readily admits he hugs and communicates with his animals so they know they are well cared for.
In particular, he loves chickens. He finds their personalities intriguing.
“They’re my first love. It’s like having a best friend and a dog around,” he said.
For The Love Of Animals
Garrett has nearly 100 free-range chickens, as well as several pigs, sheep and goats — and bees — on his farm near Seneca. He bales and sells hay, has 73 piglets on the ground and has kicked his farming into high gear.
The former project manager who worked for an electrical contractor started farming three years ago with two pigs. He transitioned to full-time farming in February.
Of his chickens, two in particular made their way into his heart. Denise was his shadow. She stayed by his side and loved to sneak in the house. Denise often found her way through the house’s doggy door. Garrett would find an egg sitting on the couch.
One time, he awoke and found her sitting on top of the clothes bar in his closet. She also snuck in the house when Garrett went to town to run errands. “Every time she would hear the truck start, she would try to get in the house,” he said.
Sometimes, Denise left him a prize and Garrett had to watch his step.
He was fond of Denise, but found her antics too unsettling. “She was just too much,” he said.
Denise recently found a new home, but Garrett still has Lloyd, a lavender breed rooster, who accompanies him on errands.
He also likes to stir up a little trouble with the hens, making a big deal out of rocks and plastic to “get the hens to come running.”
Lloyd likes to run errands with Garrett, hopping in the truck, like a dog would, for a trip around town.
“If I leave the door open too long, Lloyd and the hens are in the truck, house, and anywhere else I may be with food,” he said.
Garrett likes to observe his chickens, watch their behavior and let them know they’re cared for. He’s learned how to boost egg production and provide the best mix he can for them. He lets them eat whatever they find, but also gives them a special feed. He mixes three feeds together to make sure they have the right balance of calcium, protein, soybean and cornmeal.
He’s also branched off into special breeds of chickens, those known for their egg-laying and their tenacity. Garrett operates an incubator to help with the self-sustaining operation, which sells eggs and chickens.
“The best part of chicken farming is the entertainment and getting one of your chick’s first egg,” he said.
Garrett does all he can to “get a chick to a chicken.” That hard work pays off.
A lady in Kansas City purchases roosters from Garrett, appreciating the quality of chicken she’s receiving.
“I’m not that guy at a swap meet that shows up with a chicken for $10,” Garrett said.
Jumping In Head First
As a little kid, Garrett’s favorite book was one that featured animals. He wanted to have animals, specifically a pig, but his parents wouldn’t give. Too much responsibility, they said.
When he got out on his own, however, he decided to buy a pig.
“Nobody told me I couldn’t,” he said.
He was content with his two pigs for a while. Then an injury catapulted his farming career.
Garrett shattered his foot and was laid up for three months. During that time, he turned off the TV and began to watch YouTube classes.
He purchased some chickens, and began observing their behavior. From there, his farming continued to get “a little more serious and a little more serious” until it “just blossomed” into a fullfledged career.
He’s taken online classes through OSU and Backyard Chicks and researched quite a bit on his own.
All of his animals are placed in one pen. Garrett spends time with all the animals and keeps abreast of their progress.
“It doesn’t matter what’s going on with me. They have to be taken care of.”
That can be challenging for the one-man show, but illness or other tasks don’t prevent him from tending to his animals. From helping sick animals to having to put them down, Garrett runs the gamut of caring for his growing business.
Though he has a connection with his animals, he doesn’t have a problem with taking hogs to the butcher at Goodman Meat Shop and Processing.
He knows, from the start, that the hogs are being raised for a purpose and he can disconnect at some point when it becomes butchering time.
What bothers him, however, is unnecessary death, such as the 200 chickens lost in the flood earlier this spring.
He also fights a predator problem, including a fox and a bobcat.
“I was finding carcasses inside my coop,” he said. A conservation agent came to observe and footage revealed the bobcat problem.
Garrett has since stretched netting further to keep the bobcat out.
A fox also hit his coop pretty hard, even with a dog 50 feet away watching over the chickens.
But Garrett rebounds time and time again. He didn’t seek out farming for fame or fortune, but to live off the land and find success in raising animals.
Despite the job that spans 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Garrett feels fortunate he can make his living farming.
He loves and hugs his animals and realizes his gift enables him to connect with animals in a special way.
“I haven’t been this poor in years, but it’s a work in progress and something to strive for every day,” he said.
“However, I haven’t been this happy in years!”
Garrett Mountain Farms can be found on Facebook.
Jeremy Garrett’s rooster, Lloyd, often jumps in his truck and helps him run errands around town. Garrett said Lloyd is like a best friend and a dog, all in one.