New Germany, Nova Scotia
Thomas DeLong’s day follows a routine.
He starts by setting up the grading station while his father Ralph checks the barns.
Then they grade eggs and take orders from local stores.
Next, they get the orders ready for the stores and by afternoon the truck comes back from a delivery run to get ready for the next day’s deliveries.
It’s a routine Thomas enjoys, and one he looks to keep on doing when he eventually takes over the family egg farm from his father and uncle.
Thomas is a third-generation egg farmer.
His grandfather began the operation in the 1940s on land that had been farmed since at least the 19th century in south-central Nova Scotia. His father and uncle took over the operation about 35 years ago, and now he’s setting himself up to take over from them.
“It’s kind of been one of my life’s goals to take over the business,” he says, explaining that he studied agriculture, agricultural economy and animal science to ground himself in basics of the business.
“I want to start a family and run the farm and contribute to the industry,” he says simply. “I know it’s a changing industry and I know I have a part to play in that change.”
When he looks to the future, Thomas sees challenges–but he is also optimistic.
“I can feel comfortable going into it,” he says. “I’m not wading into unfamiliar waters; I am taking on a strong business with a good structure and a steady source of income.”
He also likes working with his family.
“I’ve always gotten along well with my family,” he says. “A lot of people don’t get to see their family often, whereas I get to have an ongoing personal and professional relationship with the people I know best.”
There are three sides to the operation: eggs, beef cattle and Christmas trees.
Thomas says those three elements complement each other more than you might expect. Manure produced by the hens fertilizes the fields that grow the hay for the cattle, and the staff who work on the Christmas tree operation also work in other parts the operation.
“The farm has a bright future,” he says.
“We’re a local producer and there’s a demand in the local market for local producers.
“I enjoy my work, and I look forward one day to taking over the farm,” he adds.
“It’s very rewarding to produce food for people.”