Just off of Youngs Ave. in Southold is the very beginning of a new farm on the North Fork. The land is owned by Peconic Land Trust, and one section of it is now rented out to Pastured Provisions. Behind the white barn that looks like so many on the North Fork — slightly chipped paint, decades old with a rustic and homey feel — is the new bird farm’s own barn of sorts. Raised off the ground by about three feet on stilts is a small wooden structure that looks like a little house, four walls and a roof.
Sal Manno opens up one of the doors to reveal the life inside — 102 lives exactly, of red broiler and cornish cross chicks. His outfit of a dark navy sweatshirt with a few paint marks reveal his primary job, masonry and construction. His wife, Yuliya Manno’s Carhart overalls are the perfect getup for taking care of these chicks, but it hides well her full-time gig as an analyst at an insurance company.
Together they started this small chicken farm just a few weeks ago (the 102 chicks just turned a week old). After living in Brooklyn for a few years, they knew they wanted a lifestyle change, but Yuliya’s job was keeping them there.
“I have long commutes because I work all over Long Island,” Sal Manno said. During those commutes or on weekends, they would listen to podcasts or watch videos on homesteading, something they longed to do. Eventually they fell into a rabbit hole (or chicken hole) on raising chickens.
“Till we were finally like, ‘Alright, you know what? We should do our own thing,’” Sal Manno said. “Then a pandemic hit, and Yuliya didn’t have to be in the city anymore.” So they moved out to the North Fork, where they both grew up and started doing more research, even volunteering at Feisty Acres poultry farm in the mornings and evenings to see what the day-to-day would be like.
Finally, at the beginning of 2021, they found a chicken coop from someone in Orient and got their first order of chicks in last week. Before work, on lunch and after work, Yuliya Manno makes her way over to the coop to restock the grain feed or refill the water. “It’s a pleasure coming out in the morning and at night,” she said. “Actually having things to do with my hands outside.”
For them, it’s a major learning experience, and they see this first round of chickens as a way to see what works and what doesn’t. In just under four weeks, they will move the chicks out into the pasture, where they will have planted a mixture of different grasses.
“The different grasses attract different bugs,” Yuliya Manno said. “The broader diet that they have, the better for them. They’re omnivores, so they shouldn’t be eating just the grain all the time.”
These chickens will be processed for meat at the end of May and sold through their website, currently in the works, and picked up at the farm or at Sep’s Farm in East Marion.
Although they are still in the very early stages of Pastured Provisions, they are hoping to expand. “The name leaves us room to eventually grow,” Yuliya Manno said. “We have a lot of ideas for what we could do to diversify the farm, diversify the land that we’re operating on and diversify the products that we’re selling.”
“It’s going to be hard; there’s gonna be days where it’s going to get stressful,” Yuliya Manno said. “But eating what you grow will be a really fun part.”
“It’s going to be really cool to be able to say, ‘We grew this chicken,’” Sal Manno added. “‘And we know where it’s coming from. It was right out there in the grass.’”