Nicole Niemann-Carr of SunnyCrest Farm has her third story in a national publication.
Previous stories about her life and the history of her home and farm were published in Farm & Ranch Living in 2006 and 2013. One was about calling cows and the next focused on Old Blue, the farm truck her grandfather (“Popa,”as she called him) Chuck Niemann used to drive.
She has also sent photos of son Colton to Hobby Farms magazine, one with his pony and another with a chicken.
The story appearing in the January issue of Backyard Poultry Magazine, “Life At The SunnyCrest Farm,”includes a full-page photo of Colton petting a chicken. He’s the sixth generation to live and farm there. The story is under a series about families and poultry farming’s tie to homesteading, a perfect fit for Niemann-Carr.
Andrew Olson came from Sweden in 1886 and invested in a homestead on land that was then considered Vaughn. Now considered Key Center with a Lakebay address, it’s been in the family for nearly 130 years.
Elmer Olson, youngest of Andrew’s sons, built a home near his widowed mother and married Elsie Bill. In 1929, they started a chicken business and registered the name SunnyCrest Farm.
They built seven chicken houses plus a large incubator house, still standing.
“It’s where we keep the brooder boxes for our chicks today,”Niemann-Carr says.
When she and her husband, Tony Carr, built their home in 2004, it was on the site of chicken house No. 5. Grandma Joyce Niemann had a plaque made that hangs in the Carr kitchen, stating that fact.
Olson was among the first in the area to get electricity, as it was needed for the incubators.
By 1939, the Olsons had dairy cows but continued to sell eggs on a smaller scale. Grandma Joyce got her license at 14 so she could deliver eggs to the local co-op at the Lakebay Marina.
Niemann-Carr recalls helping to feed the chickens at age 6, carrying a broom to ward off the aggressive rooster. He pecked her once, and she thinks Popa put him in the stew pot soon after.
The Niemanns were busy with cows instead of chickens. Nicole, who was enamored with horses, completed college degrees and was married.
She and Tony graduated with bachelor degrees in fitness and exercise science. He worked in construction while she complete her master’s of science in human movement and performance. She teaches Silver Sneakers classes at the YMCA, and Tony is a Gig Harbor firefighter.
“I thought we’d have a cute little house in Gig Harbor,”she said, adding that she wanted to stay near her family.
They soon decided to move back and live on the farm near her grandparents, with her parents just across the road.
When Colton was about a year old, they bought their first six chicks.
“Then it became 12, then 20, and now we have a flock of about 65 different breeds of chickens and sell eggs to a loyal following of customers,”she wrote in her story.
Tony built a main movable hen house that is moved every few weeks to new pasture.
In 2000, they added a horse, two cows and three bottle-fed calves. After four sets of bottle-feeding, they opted to breed their own. This year, the first calf since Popa Niemann raised them was born on the farm.
Niemann-Carr and the family also raise two pigs per year and cultivate a vegetable garden. She enjoys raising much of her family’s food on her historic family farm.
And yes, she plans to write more stories about her experiences.