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Spotlight on George Key Farm in Carrollton, Georgia

Theresa K. Hubbard is the owner and manager of the 70-acre George Key Farm in Carrollton, Georgia.

Hubbard runs a pullet farm, meaning she raises the flock that become egg-laying hens. Those eggs are later hatched in a hatchery and raised on farms to become broilers, chickens raised for their meat. Hubbard’s responsibility is to raise the pullets from the day they’re hatched until they reach maturity at 21 weeks, when they are then moved to a hen farm designed to collect the eggs. She raises 36,000 chickens in two flocks, with four hen houses and one rooster house, per year.

Len Newbern, service technician for the Carrollton Division, says Hubbard followed in her father’s footsteps and keeps the farm in impeccable condition and that she is always open to suggestions that improve the well-being of her flock, which makes her the right choice for Grower of the Month.

“If we’re making a change to our program, I explain the reasoning behind it and they are always agreeable,” says Newbern. “Sometimes it’s not a lot of trouble or doesn’t cost a lot, but sometimes they have to make improvements to the houses or farm. But whenever we’ve asked, she’s working on it before you even get out of the driveway, and by the time you come back the next week, it’s done.”

Family Roots

Newbern says Hubbard followed in her father’s footsteps, keeping the farm impeccable.

“She took the farm over from her dad,” says Newbern, “and she’s a chip off the old block. He kept things immaculate on that farm and she’s the same way.”

Years ago, Hubbard’s father, George J. Key, and his wife, Edna, moved their three children, Alicia Wester, Theresa Hubbard and Joey Key from the College Park area of Atlanta to Carrollton, Georgia. Key continued to commute 45 miles away to his job at Eastern Air Lines. Key had already been helping his uncle, who had chicken houses, when he decided it would be a good thing to do for himself. He started George Key Farm with two houses in 1976. Key continued to run the farm and commute to his full time job at Eastern Air Lines until 1991, when the company shut down. The Keys still live in the original farmhouse, while the Hubbards live in a separate house on the farm.

“He thought he would keep his rambunctious children out of trouble if they had plenty of work to do. I’m not sure about that one though,” chuckled Hubbard. “My sister doesn’t like chickens, but she did other things on the farm. There’s lots to do around the farm that doesn’t involve the chicken houses. My brother is an insurance agent with Farm Bureau. I have been working on the farm on and off since 1976, when I was 15 or 16. Pretty much, I was the country girl.” Her father turned the farm over to her in 2007.

Beautiful Chicks Make Beautiful Chickens

“Our chickens breed to make beautiful babies,” says Hubbard. “We raise them up from little chicks until they are big enough and old enough to lay eggs.”

When Hubbard talks about the chicks being delivered to her farm, at only one day old, she sounds like someone ogling newborn puppies in a pet store window. “I just love the babies. They’re so cute. They’re more work, but they’re just so cute that it’s worth it. It’s wonderful, I love it. I sing to them and they love it. Well, I don’t know if they love it, but they don’t complain I guess,” said Hubbard.

Healthy Lifestyle, Healthy Food

Hubbard is married to Alan Hubbard and the couple raised a daughter, Kristen, now 28 and married.

“He works really hard on the farm, sometimes even taking vacation days from his job to help out when things get hectic.”

Key turned the farm over to Hubbard in 2007. “He decided to hand the headache over to me is what he said.”

Aside from chickens, George Key Farm has a pine tree farm, which aids in erosion measures and assists in air quality on the farm, “You don’t want the place to wash away. Sometimes it takes 20 to 40 years for them to get big enough to sell,” says Hubbard. There is also a large vegetable garden, a horse, two dogs and two cats.

Hubbard enjoys the flexibility of the farm life.

“I’m not really a good person to be inside all day. This job gives me the flexibility to run my parents to the grocery store or to the doctor and I teach water aerobics on the side. I have to be at the chicken house at the same time at the beginning of the day, but I don’t have to stay there all day like I would at a factory or office job. That just appeals to me,” says Hubbard.