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Hello and Introduction to Quails-R-Us…Plus!

Hi everyone!  I’m Lauren, a rising senior studying sustainable agriculture.  Sustainable agriculture is a huge field, but my interests lie primarily in management intensive grazing, consumer education, and economic ornithology.  I’m interning this summer on a small family farm in northeastern Pennsylvania that produces a variety of animal products.  Quails-R-Us…Plus is only about five years old and is run by Rick and Linda Franciosa.  The farm is still very much in the transition stage, but business is growing every year.  This is the first year they’ve had an intern, so my job description is very fluid.  Basically I help out wherever I’m needed, giving advice when I’m asked and learning a lot.084

Quails-R-Us…Plus, or Q-R-US for short, has its origins in poultry.  Rick and Linda both have many decades experience in live poultry markets in New York City.  The farm started off raising tens of thousands of live quail, and has slowly morphed into its current form.  Now we raise natural and organic Cornish Cross meat chickens, Coturnix quail for meat and eggs, Red Sexlink layers, Broad-breasted White Turkey, guineafowl, mixed breed pigs, mixed breed goats, mixed breed sheep, and rabbits.  Also raised are Bobwhite quail and Chukar partridge for hunting.

Q-R-US has a finger in many pots.  We sell direct to restaurants, we sell to whole-sellers, we contribute to two different CSA’s (community supported agriculture), we take orders from customers, and we go to seven different farmer’s markets a week.  We often butcher chickens raised by others, for a fee.  There are a host of pets that need care as well: dogs, cats, doves, donkeys, geese, a horse, a ferret, two cockatiels, and a pot-bellied pig.  Every day is different, bringing new challenges and new opportunities to learn.


A partridge chick…so tiny!

I live on farm, beginning each day around eight in the morning and working until six.  Rick and Linda’s daughters occasionally help out, and there is a farmhand Ramone.  We butcher three days a week, and I spend all day Sunday at one of our markets. So far during my four weeks here, I’ve helped with shearing, given vaccinations, installed new fencing, given a dog a haircut, coaxed layers out onto pasture, held impossibly tiny quail chicks, and untangled a kid from Electronet.  I’m now quite proficient at bottle-feeding lambs, collecting eggs, gutting chickens, and filling customer orders…not bad for someone who’s spent her whole life in the suburbs!  I’m learning a ton, and most of it is random tidbits and insights you’d never find in a textbook.  The kind of learning that only comes from hands-on experience, which is of course the very point of the internship requirement.  My only given task for the summer is to build the business a website, a process I’m very much enjoying despite its surprising difficulty.

I am surrounded by Cornell alumni.  Rick is a Class of ’82 animal science alum, and Q-R-US does a lot of partnering with Twin Brook Farms down the road, managed by Class of 2010 ag sci alum Cassie and her husband Erik, Class of 2010 natural resources.  When I wear my Cornell shirts to markets, many customers comment on how beautiful Ithaca is, or how great their education at Cornell was.  It makes me so thankful for my Cornell community.  I can’t wait to continue to learn from my mentors!

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