Hannah Borg of Borg Family Farms hails from Allen, Nebraska, home of the Huskers, rolling hills and fields of with plenty of cattle. At the Borg Family Farms, you will see all of that, and more. Upon returning home to the farm after college, Hannah set out on a new adventure – raising thousands of chickens! From seeing the process, hearing Hannah’s passion and meeting the family behind the farm, this is one you won’t forget.
So, here’s a fun FarmHer fact: Hannah actually was one of our interns! She worked for us during the summer, honing her communication skills, and then went home at the end of the summer to her family’s Nebraska farm. Going home to the farm for Hannah meant coming back to her grassroots in rural America. It also meant becoming a true entrepreneur, launching a new business within the family farm that’s already existed for generations.
Farming is a Family Business
Hannah grew up in a farming family in north central Nebraska, and takes her role as the 6th generation FarmHer on Borg Family Farms seriously. The Borg Family has been farming the same land for over 135 years. As she neared the end of her college career, Hannah’s parents pitched her an opportunity she couldn’t pass up. Move home and work as a farm hand while helping her mom build a new enterprise on the farm. The family set about building the large chicken houses and installing the vast machinery and technology for the chickens. This would diversify the farm for Hannah’s generation, and many generations to come. Eager for the opportunity, Hannah took the offer, and tackled the new adventure at 22 years old.
Now that she is back at the farm, Hannah and her mother are quick to say it’s been a learning experience. Borg Family Farms contracts with a local company to raise thousands of chickens each year. Those chickens go on to provide millions of pounds of meat to households across the country. Twice a year, about 60,000 birds arrive as tiny chicks and are raised, cage-free for 21 weeks. The chickens then move down the road for the next stop, where they lay the eggs that become the meat birds. These meat birds are used by Costco for their rotisserie chickens. Who else is a frequent purchaser and big fan of Hannah’s chicken’s offspring like we are?
A Beautiful Morning at Borg Family Farm
We arrived and met Hannah on the family farm, coming in right as the sun was rising. Once at the farm, Hannah and her eager puppy greeted us, and we hit the ground running, ready for a full day of work. First, we stopped to check in on the beef cattle, which is her dad’s main focus on the farm, to feed Hannah’s bottle calf. Cattle are still a large part of Borg Family Farms, with her brother owning a small herd of show cattle as well. The calf is eager as any to drink the bottle of warm milk as Hannah quickly feeds him.
From there we head up to the horse barn, which is clearly one of Hannah’s favorite places on the farm. She grew up riding horses and spent many years showing her horses. While we were at the barn feeding her old friends a few flakes of hay, Hannah stops to show off a piece of important family history – the tack room. The modern barn has beautiful old wood from buildings on the family’s original homestead.
Technology and Biosecurity In Raising Livestock
It was then time to tour Hannah’s main focus at the farm – the chickens. At any operation similar to Borg Family Farm, you have to “suit up”, making sure that all of the biosecurity systems the operation has in place are followed. The poultry and livestock industries have had extensive measures in place for years to reduce the risk of disease. We put on coveralls, boot covers and a hairnet, then cleaned our feet to step inside the impressive operation. From the temperature controls to the automated feeding systems, these chicken houses have state-of-the art technology. This ensures the best environment for raising the chickens in their care. Every step of the process in raising the birds has been thought out.
Chickened out by Chickens
We stepped inside the chicken house, and yes, me, Marji, couldn’t hide my fast beating heart. It’s true, I have a healthy fear of chickens. I’ve never actually had a bad encounter with a bird, but for some reason they put the Fear of God into me! Inside the expansive building, I realize that the birds are actually not out to get me and relax, just a bit. While there are thousands of birds in the building, they are surprisingly calm and quiet. Hannah picks up a bird, cradling it in her arms as she tells us how much she has learned in just one short year. FarmHers embrace new opportunities with an open mind, willing to learn and adjust, and Hannah does exactly that.
By now it is nearly lunch time, which is actually called dinner in Nebraska. We drive a few miles down the gravel road to Grandma’s house – well, Hannah’s grandma’s house anyways. Throughout our time, Hannah talks a lot about how important her family is, and this stop helped us realize why.
The Heart of the Borg Family
Grandma makes lunch every day for anyone who shows up. Sometimes a few, sometimes a lot, depending how many of Hannah’s cousins, uncles or siblings are around. This is a tradition that Grandma has been doing for as long as Hannah can remember. It provides a chance for the family to gather, talk, connect, restore and rest just a bit before they head back out for an afternoon of work.
Grandma greets us with a dinner of freshly fried chicken (go figure), mashed potatoes and gravy, bread, and more. It is delicious and that isn’t even all of it. It turns out, Grandma has her very own soft serve ice cream machine! Needless to say, we dug in and loved it all. Before we head out the door, Grandma plays a few tunes on the piano, with her granddaughter watching full of pride.
Expanding the farm and bringing in a piece of diversification like the chicken houses was Hannah’s ticket to come back home. But, it’s more than just that – there is a pride and bond that runs deep in the Borg family line. Hannah became the next generation, carrying on both old and new operational practices of the farm. The FarmHer life isn’t for everyone, but for Hannah, it’s in her blood. It is something she gets to love and live every day. Hannah works hard and is dedicated to continuing a strong family legacy of her family farming in Nebraska. This family legacy is one that will continue to evolve and grow for many generations to come.