Chickens delight in the light – we make the most of fresh eggs and farm days!

 

Santa Rosa hit 70 degrees just a few days ago, with the warmth lasting far into an afternoon that could easily be described as summer-like.  Well beyond five o’clock, the sky remained bright causing a great buzz of activity.  Families strolled by our court later in the evening, squirrels skitted with intensified fervor and chickens across the county laid bounties of eggs!

While winter’s short days and long periods of darkness can cause egg production to decrease, the welcome longer days of approaching Spring create happy chickens.  One lucky week we received three dozen eggs from farmers suddenly finding themselves with surplus.

While visiting our friends the Kaisers at Singing Frogs Farm to welcome their newborn daughter, we took a short walk to enjoy the fresh air and survey the budding farm.  Our toddler boys raced to the chicken coop to search for eggs and sprinkle scratch, while we adults talked about the exciting plans for this year’s Community Supported Agriculture program.
sample of our weekly bushel from Singing Frogs 2009
In between bringing their new wee one into the world, the Kaiser family also laid out cherry tomato starts and a host of other plants to share with our family and other share holders.  Our bushel deliveries begin on May 12, but the chickens will be producing enough eggs for the Kaisers to have plenty to sell or share long before then…  They sent us home with a gift of two dozen eggs as they are already struggling to find ways to put the chicken’s cheerful production to good use.

Just days later, we visited with our friends the who provide us with raw milk through our cow share membership.  They too found themselves with a sudden surplus of eggs and ensured we walked home with another dozen.

Later that afternoon, neighbor Sharon Eisley, stopped by with a tiny basket and cloth covering three blue eggs – the first delivery since Fall.  Last Spring we co-opted into to Sharon’s chicken coop project and purchased “Chicky” an Araucana chicken which lays blue eggs – at least during the time of year with brighter, longer days.   We were pleasantly surprised by Chicky’s returned desire to lay, and didn’t dare mention our growing egg surplus to Sharon!

Now… what to do with all these eggs?  First and foremost, I wanted to make a batch of fresh mayonnaise.

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Fresh eggs sport near perfect lecithin, which is key to well formed mayonnaise.  Our batch this day was no exception.  I am happy to pass hand made, lacto-fermented, enzyme rich mayonnaise around my family table.  With my Nourishing Tradition’s mayo recipe, I can ensure my toddler chows down his brocoli while getting a healthy dose of enzymes and Omega’s!  (The “Cheese Slave” also offers a great mayo tutorial on this site.)

 

Daisy Comes HomeFresh eggs aren’t the only benefit to raising chickens or supporting farmers who do.  My little guy has a huge hankering for hens and their “eggcentric” personalities.  We love reading chicken stories – Jan Brett’s Daisy Comes Home is a favorite – and visiting our friends’ backyard coops.

Looking for your own source for fresh eggs?  Michele Anna Jordan wrote “Where to find the best eggs“, which the PD featured last year.

What about raising your own chickens?  Start with local Chicken Diva Dawn Russell and her website: Ranch Hag Hens.  Here’s what Dawn says about what to expect while raising chickens:

picture taken by photographer Michael Leras
  • “Hours of entertainment with their EGGcentric personalities, their clucking and strutting
  • Regular supply of pasture raised, free-roaming organic eggs
  • Chicken manure makes excellent fertilizer for your garden and plants
  • Assist with weed control
  • Excellent recyclers for your surplus fruit and vegetables
  • Low maintenance family pet
  • No crowing! Just happy, healthy laying hens”

While sadly Dawn and Ranch Hags are not selling chicks this year, she offers important tips for how to ensure you get ethically treated, healthy chicks.

  1. Do some research on how many feedstore and mail order chicks are hatched -  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkuohLV2u0k
  2. Try to find chicks from local providers – with a reputation for knowing how to properly vaccinate chicks for Merrick’s disease – such as craigslist or a local 4H group.
  3. Try to buy chickens that are 3 – 14 days old that don’t have crooked beaks, bent toes, featherless bottoms, or “poopy” bottoms.
  4. Carefully follow tips (See Ranch Hag’s How it Works page and scroll down to Day Old Chicks) for bringing your chicks home and allowing them to settle – little chicks are easy to fall in love with as they are ultra precious and fluffy.  However, they also have a huge rate of loss.

For more great chicken raising tips, follow Dawn Russell of Ranch Hag Hens (a self-described chicken fanatic). This local Petaluma mother is now focusing on writing a book about raising chickens while selling “chicken treats.” Find your own chicken inspiration as well as homeopathic, flower essences, and coop cleaning products at her “Treats for Chickens” site.

While chicks need to live in a controlled environment – say a cardboard box with a warming lamp on your kitchen table suggests Dawn Russell – older chickens will likely need a coop and or chicken run for protection, nightly roosting, eating, and egg laying. Visit the Santa Rosa Farmer’s Market and find our local recycled wood chicken coop vendor or call Mack at (707) 481-1145 for one great coop resource.

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One Response

  1. Sharon

    Posted: February 19, 2010 at 3:50 pm |

    Yes- they have begun to lay again, and goodness what eggs! Chickies eggs are enormous! Suffice to say we are having egg bread tonight and fritata's tomorrow. Let me know when your egg supply dwindles and I shall send over the basket via happy messenger boy once again!:) (Benjamen just loves his 'big boy' task of egg delivery).

     

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