High school sweethearts Joe and Garoleen Wilson always wanted to return to their hometown in Smith County, Kansas. In 1994, they purchased their first lot of land so Garoleen could breed dogs for show. They started out with the dogs, alfalfa for the family horses, and meat for their own kitchen.
Not long after, they started raising Cornish-cross chickens for their county and beyond. Despite JHawk’s quiet beginnings, Garoleen now provides pasture-raised chicken from the geographical center of the lower 48 states.
Garoleen believes in giving the birds a clean and healthy environment with high quality rations that use the freshest ingredients possible. In addition to forage and native grasses, the flock feeds on locally produced feed made from non-GMO corn grown on the farm and roasted soybeans from the local farmers coop. “We like that we can grow most of our own feed,” Garoleen says. “We know the quality and where it comes from.”
Native grasses and legumes provide a pasture full of bugs and worms for the birds to enjoy. With grassy pastures and cover crops to shade the grain crops, the fields and chickens at JHawk increase the fertility of organic matter while reducing the need for artificial chemicals.
The chickens are rotated to fresh pasture daily using a roofed trailer that provides them access to fresh grasses and shelter. The trailer is protected by electric netting to keep away predators, and livestock guardian dogs can accompany the chickens inside or outside the net.
“We treat the birds with care and respect so that they will live a happy life with only one bad day,” says Garoleen. “We love to sit and watch the chickens. It’s fun to see how other animals interact with the chickens on pasture.”