Egg farming as a family at B Jack FarmsBy Egg Farmers of Canada
“It’s almost like a fairy tale to be able to wander out the back door to the barn with a coffee every morning…” said Krista Harris, describing her new life since starting B Jack Farms with her sister Jessica Krahn.
When their father passed suddenly, the sisters chose to invest in an egg farm on their family’s property, in Abbotsford, British Columbia. Their father kept a hobby farm on the property and the family wanted to find a way to keep and better utilize the land. “We knew we needed to be connected to this land,” said Krista.
The farm name, B Jack, was chosen to honour their late father, Jack. “People in the community who hear our farm name immediately think of my dad.” B Jack is also an acronym for Krista and Jessica’s initials, along with their partner’s: Barry, Jessica And Cathy, Krista.
“We were drawn to farming because we knew [it] … and we just knew that’s where my dad would have wanted us to spend time and invest,” said Krista, admitting that, in “a roundabout way”, the passing of her father reignited a passion for farming in their family.
B Jack Farms made their entrance into the egg industry with the help of the BC Egg New Producer Program. Every provincial egg board in Canada manages its own unique new entrant program, designed to help emerging egg farmers establish their farms.
Krista and Jessica had grown up around animals and always had a strong appreciation for farming. However, they quickly realized that learning from established egg farmers would be the most efficient and practical way to learn the ropes. “We wanted to see everything and feel it,” said Jessica. “We watched and we studied the hens,” added Krista.
The family wanted a hen housing system that allowed every family member to be able to take part—from their young nephews to their aging mother. This led them to choose an organic free range system for their farm. “We work very communally as a family; always have. So having a communal farm just makes sense,” said Krista.
That sense of community includes their extended family, who lend a helping hand part time on the farm. It’s not unusual for their nephews to visit for some much needed ‘dirt therapy’ and on-farm exploration with their cousins.
“They get on their boots and they run. They love coming to the farm,” Jessica explained. “[Our sisters] don’t want to work here and that’s fine. But their boys will. Their kids are going to be part of the farm,” Krista added.
The bond created through farming is unlike any other. From experiencing things together for the first time, to watching their children relive their favourite childhood memories—B Jack Farms has continuously proven to be a rewarding and fulfilling endeavor.
“I didn’t realize [these] were my fondest memories until I see our kids doing it,” said Krista. “Like when I would mow the lawn with my dad, sitting on his lap on the ride-on tractor. The first time your kid falls asleep in your arms while you’re on the tractor—you’re in tears…this is such a perfect moment. This is it. This is what we’re supposed to be doing.’”
Krista said one of her favourite things about family farming is watching her mom sort eggs with the grandchildren—decades between them, happily working side by side. Sorting eggs can take hours, which leaves time for meaningful conversations. “You learn a ton” through family farming, Krista explained.
Krista and Jessica hope their children continue the legacy they have created at B Jack Farms. At the heart of it all is a love for the hens, she “hope[s] to impart on them that none of this is possible without the birds and their health… That makes farming easy,” said Krista.