Which came first: the chicken or the egg? At Napier Farms, egg authority Holly Napier will tell you the answer.
Napier grew up in Mayday in La Plata Canyon, but was not introduced to farming until she and her husband, Mark, returned from college at Northern Arizona University and opened an outfitting business. They raised and trained goats to carry pack saddles into the Weminuche Wilderness, where they operated an outdoor-education backpacking program.
They later moved to a 40-acre farm in Breen, where they have lived for the last 15 years, raising their four children and running Napier Farms.
Their efforts include grass-fed lambs and goats, and farm- fresh chicken eggs. For them, the egg comes first.
Last winter, their lay hen production was inspected by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. They received an Approved Egg Source License, which allows them to sell eggs at farmers markets, retail stores and restaurants. The inspection scrutinized their lay house facilities, gathering procedures, washing, packing and storagefacilities. Their goats and lambs are processed at Sunnyside Meat Processing.
"We are very lucky to have our own USDA processor in La Plata County," Napier said. "They are true partners in providing locally raised, safe meat for all of us who live here."
For a time, Napier home- schooled her children, allowing them to participate in farm chores. Napier said they have gained a lot from living on a working farm.
"They definitely know where food comes from. They have been present for animals' births, deaths, feedings, shearings, ear tagging, vet work, haying and fence building," she said. "They continue to show interest in animal husbandry by their involvement in 4-H, each with their own projects to be shown at the La Plata County Fair this week."
The kids are now in public school, and they are involved in after-school activities. Mark is employed in the oil and gas industry, so for most of the year, Holly single handedly runs the farming operation.
The marketing has been simplified by teaming up with another farmer, Jason Cole, to sell eggs, ensuring customers a year-round consistent source.
The Napiers have an ongoing CSA subscription business, and they also market to local groceries and restaurants. But Napier's favorite way to sell her farm products is at the Durango Farmers Market.
Even in these unsettled financial times, she finds the market continues to grow.
"I am so thankful for our customers. I enjoy my relationship with each of them. I love to explain how I raise my animals, and hear their feedback on our products," she said. "The appreciation I feel at the market is what encourages me when I'm back to the everyday farm work."
Napier also has praise for the stores and restaurants that have supported her.
"These businesses hold local food and farmers in high regard, and have been great to work with," she said.
Over the last year, Napier has sold eggs to Nature's Oasis, Durango Natural Foods, Dolores Food Market, Hermosa Market, Seasons Grill, Cocina Linda, Cairo Cafe and Diana's 2nd Avenue Café. Cyprus Café serves specials that include her goat meat.
Find Napier Farm's fresh eggs, lamb and goat meat at the Durango Farmers Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Contact Holly Napier at firstname.lastname@example.org or 588-3716.
Marje Cristol owns Linnaea Farm in Durango and sells cut flowers and goat-milk cheeses. She also serves on the Durango Farmers Market board. Reach her at 946-2712 or marje@LinnaeaFarm.com.