Meet Our Growers - Roger Tate
Meet the Faces Behind the Eggs
Meet Roger Tate, his family has been farming in Orange County, NC since the 1700s. Much of his family still lives on half of the 1,200 acres that originally belonged to them. Among these acres are four hen houses that produce Braswell Family Farms certified organic eggs.
Roger has been a partner grower with Braswell since 2011. Roger entrusts most of his egg production in his farm manager, Annette, while he overlooks his organic tobacco and hay production. Annette oversees the daily operations of feeding, watering, checking on the hens, and collecting eggs. She says the job can be tough and tiring but she’s lucky to have three women that she couldn’t work without. One of the women, Edith, has been working with the Tate’s for 20 years!
The daily routine for Annette, her helpers, and the hens looks something like this: the hens are first fed at 4:05 a.m. and every two hours after that. At about 7 a.m., Annette walks each house to ensure each hen is healthy and that the temperature in the houses is not too hot or too cold. If it is, she either lowers or raises the curtains on the houses to create or reduce airflow. The houses also have a censored alarm, so if the temperature reaches uncomfortable levels, Annette and Roger are notified. Annette oversees the operations of the houses five days a week. On Sunday and Monday, Roger gives Annette a break and fills in for her.
Annette rarely takes a break, however. On her days off, you can find her working on a do-it-yourself project. An oak tree fell in her yard a few weeks ago and she has just completed her project of turning it into a bathroom vanity. Roger admires Annette’s ability to turn nothing into something beautiful and functional, but he’d rather spend his time mountain biking on the trails throughout Orange County. We are still working on recruiting him for the Victory Ride next year!
We are blessed to have partners like Roger and Annette to help us produce the highest quality eggs. Roger has a love for soil science and environmental practices and has served as the supervisor for the Orange Soil and Water Conservation District.
“Every day, we try to balance the work we do with the ‘health’ of the environment,” Roger said. “Our goal is to leave the land better than we found it.”
In 2013, Roger and our production manager, Judge, were awarded an environmental award from the NC Egg Association for their innovation in chicken litter management. Roger completed an experiment with NC State to determine if planting switch grass at the end of each hen house would reduce ammonia levels. The Tate family also received a Certificate of Merit in 1981 from the Good Year Corporation for their outstanding accomplishments in resources conservation.
When asked what they enjoy most about farming and raising hens, Annette commented that she enjoys the ability to set her own hours and knows what to expect. Roger says he wouldn’t do anything else. He loves farming and he loves the genuineness of the Braswell family.
And of course, we had to ask Roger and Annette their favorite way to enjoy their Braswell Family Farms eggs. Roger likes his scrambled or in an egg salad and Annette enjoys them most in a tater tot casserole. Check out her recipe here!