Small Business Startup: Igo To The Farm

HOLLY BONAME / NNY BUSINESS
Denise Igo holds a chicken that produces eggs at her farm, Igo To The Farm

BY: Holly Boname
      As a military spouse, Denise Igo has traveled the country with her husband. When her husband was close to retirement after 21 years of service Denise knew that she could relocate to an area where she could pursue her love of animals.   

     “We knew he was going to retire in the next couple years,” she said, “ We were in Fort Hood for five and a half years and since we knew he was going to retire, we asked the Army to move us somewhere where we might like to retire.”

     So they requested to retire at Fort Drum and if they liked it, they would stay.

     “So they moved us up here, and my husband worked for another two to three years on Drum and now he is retired. But he still works on Drum, but as a civilian,” she said.

     After relocating and settling in the couple decided that they would like to purchase some chickens specifically for meat to find out exactly where their food was coming from. Denise was no amateur to raising chickens as she had them when she was younger. 

     “We thought it was a great way to find out exactly what kind of meat we are eating. So we got ten meat birds and those you can raise in eight weeks and they are huge. It’s a very quick process and we filled our freezer. Of course they are adorable from the day you get them, but within a week or two they got really big,” she said.

     At that point she fell in love with chickens and began to find as many varieties as she could.

     “I had chickens when I was younger, I had peacocks in my 20’s, I’ve probably had every animal imaginable growing up,” she recalled.  “So we started with meat birds, and then got six backyard chickens. And if you know anything about chickens you can’t just have one. People start with five, and then they multiply rapidly. Then I got five more here, ten more there, add some ducks and peacocks and I said, ‘Why not? What’s a couple more!?”

     At this point Denise was producing dozens of eggs and decided that she would like to start selling them. With the last name Igo, she said people always had trouble pronouncing it. So when it came time to pick a business name she knew she had to come up with something catchy that people would remember, and that’s how ‘Igo To The Farm’ was born.

     Now with over 100 birds on their property, the couple is producing about five dozen eggs a day. She hand-raises each chicken, starting either from the egg or a small chick, to ensure happy chickens producing the best they can. The property currently has a large roost where the majority of her chickens live and lay, and another smaller coop where the peacocks, ducks and her ‘favorite’ chickens roost.

     “I enjoy the process,” she said. “With the weather being difficult during the winter months I will hatch them in the house, but I will hatch them outside during the summer months in the coop. And once they are 24 hours old I will raise them in the house for about three weeks and then bring them back outside.”

     Denise also enjoys finding chickens that produce specialty eggs ranging in colors from dark chocolate to light brown, green, blue, speckled and even pink shades. But the most interesting eggs that Denise is able to provide to her customers are tiny eggs produced by a very small specialty chicken.

     As at home, where the chickens, peacocks and ducks all cohabit in their own ‘community,’ Denise says that is the most important part of her life and business in Northern New York: Community.

     “I want us to be local; I want us to be a part of the community. I know what it’s like to be an ‘outsider’ because when you are in the Army and moving every three years you are an outsider in every community you live in. We have now been here since 2014 so I feel that this is our home, this is our permanent place,” she said. “I still like the lifestyle of the Army and I am still part of it in a way. I think that one thing that makes it good for us is since he works on Fort Drum we can sell to people on Fort Drum. And I know a lot of businesses can’t because they can’t get on Fort Drum, so I think it’s a good niche that has helped us be successful.”

     Denise sells her eggs from their home, on Fort Drum, in markets and will even meet her customers in Watertown or other locations.

     “I sell to the Clayton Co-op, in the summer I sell to a farmers market stand in Cape Vincent- it’s an open market that just started, I hope to do that again this summer,” she said.