Josh, the owner of Tardif Farm and Feed, grows all sorts of things that customers can purchase, but his true pride and joy are his beautiful flock of heritage and endangered chickens, ducks, and geese.
For most people, chickens are a stereotypical addition to a local farm. Whether they are your traditional light brown, white with a red comb, or speckled, they are the sounds and images that many people think of when “farm” comes to mind. For Josh Beebe, who owns Tardif Farm and Feed in Coventry, they are more than just the background of his farm. The fowl on his farm are not just egg producing cluckers; they are beautiful, award winning, heritage breed and endangered species of birds.
Yes, you can find lots of the normal farm goods that you encounter at farm stands- local meat, dairy, honey, veggies they grow from their fields in the summer months, and other hand-crafted items from small businesses in the area. However, if you catch Josh between many of his business endeavors (planning for plant sales in the spring, organizing the feed deliveries he provides to other farms, or picking up compost loads for his mulch and soil business), he will wax poetic about his birds.
Josh wasn’t always excited about chickens, ducks and geese, but he has always been a person with a love for animals and who jumps whole-heartedly into whatever he sets his mind to. So when a friend suggested that he should start raising poultry, it opened up a whole new approach to the family farm that had been in the family for generations.
The farm store, which opened in 2021, is what first greets you when you pull into the gravel drive- a large friendly sign that gives homage to the family history. But look just to the side and you might see mallard ducks wandering in and out of the tires of parked farm trucks. If you follow their leisurely waddle, they’ll lead you to fenced in areas where beautiful Sebastopol Geese flaunt their curling feathers, or large Dewlap Toulouse geese wander, named after the fold of loose skin hanging from the neck, with the flap flopping as they take each step.
Walking the property with Josh, he shows you the variety of Orpingtons he is breeding, some of them half the size of the young collies that run around the property protecting the flocks. He holds the birds, gently looking them over, making sure they’re healthy, happy, and ready to be displayed at the next Poultry show he’ll be attending (where he most likely would bring home some sort of prize).
And as fun as having these poultry are- with their varying personalities and unique traits, one of the most beautiful components of raising these birds are preserving their history. Josh is keenly aware that each bird he raises from hatchling to adult is another step in helping these breeds, that used to be widespread, remain part of our agricultural heritage. And though you can definitely get eggs from his farm stand, he’d be happy to see more of these birds thriving in our community, spreading their joy and reminding us of a tradition of farming that is centuries old.