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Showing posts with label eggs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label eggs. Show all posts

Friday, January 22, 2010

Record Breaker

Yep, you're reading it right... 
Eight and one-eighth inches around this bad boy!
We can't sell these because they don't fit in the cartons.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Eggszact Science

It's been almost six years since we moved onto this farm.  It's been a lot of hard work to turn it from an abandoned, overgrown corn field into a productive farm.  It's still a work in progress, but we're now reaping the rewards.  And even though we've had a lot of experiences over these six years, we're still learning everyday... especially about chickens and eggs!

A lot of you comment about the rich color of our egg yolks.  DJan, believe it or not, your store-bought eggs started out like these.  Yeah, a long time ago!  That's the problem.  The cooked eggs I'm showing you are usually around a week old.  The ones you get in the store?  Who knows.  Eggs, properly handled, do keep a very long time!  But, like anything else, over time they loose nutritional value and taste.  That's the big difference.  It takes time to go from the nest to the grocery shelf.  So, for the same reason we seek out fresh veggies from the farm markets, you should be buying your eggs fresh from the farm.

Most of the comments we get about our eggs are about the taste and the colors.  You've seen in previous posts how the brown eggs range from almost white to deep brown, some even almost mauve!  Then there are the green ones... some mint green, some sage, some olive, some aqua.  They look lovely on a tray.  Not only do they vary greatly in color, they also vary in size.

I've posted pics of the extremes, from the tiny egg I had for lunch to the one that had to hurt!  Aside from those, our eggs range from small to jumbo.  We don't separate our eggs by size the way you find them in the stores, so when we box them up, we try to mix the sizes so that each cartoon contains about the same amount.  We do, however, try to keep out the small eggs and the jumbos.  Customers really don't want the small ones.  When they open the carton, they want to see big eggs.  That's fine with us... the small ones are our favorites!

We've discovered that the ratio of white to yolk is not the same for the smaller eggs.  The yolk is a much bigger percentage in the small eggs!  When I had a friend tell me she prefers more white, I was astounded!  I thought everyone like the yolks the best!  Is there anything tastier than egg yolk sopped up with rye bread?

And the jumbos?  Well, most of them are double-yolk, and well...  you know.  Lots of yolk!  Actually, we wouldn't mind putting them in the cartons to sell, too.  Problem is, the lids won't shut!  Yeah, jumbo eggs take a larger sized carton, so we set those aside for our own use.

We've just learned there is a down-side to fresh eggs (...aside from the cost, the filth, the work, etc.)  You can't boil them!  I don't eat a lot of boiled eggs, so if Mr J or FIL have boiled any of our fresh eggs before, I don't know how they turned out.  Last week Mr J decided he wanted some hard-boiled eggs.  After the determined time had passed, we cooled the eggs down.  I always remove the shell before putting them in the fridge, so I thought I'd be sweet and remove the shells from Mr J's eggs.   OMG!  What a mess!  The shells wouldn't come off.  They stuck and pulled chunks of egg off with them.

We found out what went wrong from the resident chef at the Bengal Barn.  Something about the membrane not yet being detached from the shell.  An egg must age two to three weeks to allow air to enter and the membrane to detach.  Otherwise, you'll never get the shell off without practically destroying the egg!  So did ya ever think an egg could be too fresh?

Now Mr J has two dozen eggs set aside for Thanksgiving.  He wants some hard-boiled and some deviled eggs for the big dinner.  I've decided to split the hard-boiled eggs and lay them out on a tray like deviled eggs to show off their beautiful innards!  I'm thinking about using the double yolks for the hard-boiled.  Yum!

I mentioned proper handling...  Egg shells are porous and chickens poop alot.  These two facts combined spell trouble.  It is important to clean any poop off the eggs before storing them, but you have to be cautious in how you clean them.  If you scrub the eggs wrong, you can actually push the contaminates (nicer word than poop) through the shell!  You can't soak the eggs in water, nor can you let them sit to dry.  The water will soak into the egg.  I won't share all the details.  If you have chickens and want to know, just ask me...

Here's a cute tidbit to tie up this post...  If you feed your chickens garlic or onion, you can get flavored eggs!

Now, don't you feel eggstremely eggducated?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Poor, poor hen...

Now I know why I hear so much squawking!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Living with Mr J and the Chickens!

I just have to share this story with you...

Many of you know that last week Lille Diane stopped by our farm to visit on her way home from KY.  While she was in KY, we e-mailed a bit back and forth making plans for her visit.  At one point she mentioned Superman...

Later, in a conversation with Hubby, I mentioned that Superman had a really cool name!  It made Hubby sound so ordinary.  I suggested that we should find an exciting name for Hubby, to which he responded, "How about 'The Jerk'?"  We looked at each other and started LOBO!    Yeah, The Jerk is right up there with Superman!  It amazes me how his mind works.

I told Lille about it and we shared a laugh.  So when she finally made it to the farm, we had fun calling Hubby The Jerk.  Since then, it has come up a few times in our e-mails.  Today, Lille gave me a message to pass on to Mr. J.  I kinda like that one!

So, if you happen to read a future post that mentions Mr. J, you'll know right away...

... who I'm talkin' 'bout!

Well, since I'm here, I might as well share a bit o' chicken farming life with y'all...
Last week, when I was snapping all the potential shots  for the 'chicken wall', I shot a few inside the main chicken house.  Hubby has done a little redecorating in there...

These roosts were here before, but I just like them.
They are recycled from an old swing/play set.

I didn't notice her until I turned to leave.  Hope we didn't disturb her.  The recycled milk crates make great nests.

So do five-gallon buckets!  Hubby is experimenting with different ways to keep the nests cleaner.  The bucket keeps other chickens from roosting above the nesting material.  They tend to roost on the sides of the milk crates.  Not good...

Another design idea to keep them from roosting above the nests.

The chickens still aren't in full production.  We hope to soon get around four dozen a day.  Here is today's round-up so far...

Do you see why Lille Diane called them rainbow eggs?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Murder at Hedgeapple Creek

...or was it?


1. Law. the killing of another human being under conditions specifically covered in law. In the U.S., special statutory definitions include murder committed with malice aforethought, characterized by deliberation or premeditation or occurring during the commission of another serious crime, as robbery or arson (first-degree murder), and murder by intent but without deliberation or premeditation (second-degree murder).
2. Slang. something extremely difficult or perilous: That final exam was murder!
3. a group or flock of crows.
–verb (used with object)
4. Law. to kill by an act constituting murder.
5. to kill or slaughter inhumanly or barbarously.

Depends on how much you want to stretch the definition. OK, it wasn't a human being, but it was calculated, and it was extremely difficult. Well, no... it was physically easy; but it was mentally difficult. It's always difficult, but it's part of life on a farm. It was not a flock of crows. Yet, it was definitely not inhumane or barbarous!

If you don't want to read about the downside of life with farm animals, then stop here; but if you've ever fancied having a mini-farm with a few chickens, then you might as well be prepared.

'Angel Wings' is what I called the chick. She was so beautiful - light red changing to brilliant white. When her wings were spread in the sunlight, she looked as though she was ready to soar through the heavens. If ever a chicken was beautiful, it was Angel Wings. (dirty, nasty birds)
She was one of the tamer birds. Angel Wings stood out from the others, as she grew more beautiful every day. She stood out in another way though, that wasn't a good thing...

Hubby was out gathering eggs when we heard a ruckus. One of the black hens was screeching. Hubby looked to see Angel Wings' rear sticking up from a nest. She sat up and looked at him with egg dripping from her beak. She was eating the egg. She had already acquired the taste. According to the books Hubby has studied, once a hen acquires the taste for eggs, there's no turning back. It must be destroyed. I'm not going to tell about that.

Reality isn't always pretty on a farm. You must keep in mind the purpose of raising chicks. If you want them as pets, then have them. Fine. On the other hand, if you want them for eggs, then it's a whole different thing. Luckily, I'm not fond of birds. Oh sure, the finches at the feeder are pretty and fun to watch; but as pets?

My mom has parakeets. They're nasty. When I'm over there, I do let them hop onto my finger and I talk to them. I'm not an animal hater... but I would never have them in my house. If something happens to Mom, someone else better take the birds. OK, I've gotten off track...

We have a lot invested in the chickens. Selling eggs will never pay for it all. (Hubby went a little overboard on the chicken house. He tends to do that.) We do hope that selling the extra eggs will pay for the daily expense of keeping the chickens. We prefer to eat things that are not tainted with hormones and pesticides. Aside from dusting for mites, our chickens are all natural and cage free. That's the ironic part...

Chances are, if our birds were caged on a big poultry farm, Angel Wings would have never had the chance to taste an egg. She wouldn't have access to them. I imagine there is a mechanism to roll the eggs away from the cage as soon as it is laid. Nobody's going to reach under thousands of chickens all day long checking for eggs!

With free range chickens, they share nests. Even with empty nests available, we've watched one hen wait until the other hen is finished and vacates the nest; then she jumps in for her turn. Then go in and out as they please. They roam the fenced area looking for bugs in the ground and whatever else chickens do. We feel they must be satisfied with the size of the area, since we know they can fly out anytime they please. (No, we haven't clipped their wings.) The entire area under the ten-by-twenty house is elevated and open, so they can go under for shade or to get out of the rain without having to go back inside. We feel our chickens have it pretty good; but like I said, in a caged environment, Angel Wings would still be with us.

So, if you've thought about raising a few chickens in order to enjoy your own fresh eggs, does this make you reconsider?

On a much happier note... Hubby's final count on the corn: 250 ears in the freezer!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Eggs, Heaven and Heirloom Quilts

Remember the two eggs Hubby found the other day in the big hen house? If not click here for the story. Since the chicks are all the same age, logic would say that all the hens will be laying very soon. Do the math... Never mind; I'll do it for you. Fifty new hens plus four older hens equals four and one-half dozen eggs a day! Of course, we'll be eating some of them, but even Hubby and his cholesterol club members can't eat that many!

We plan on donating some to our city's food pantry, and we'll sell the rest. Hubby says that will pay for the cost of having them. Yeah, right. Did I mention our hen house has vinyl flooring? Sure, we bought it from the remnant rack, but it wasn't cheap! We did use recycled wood for most of the house, and the shingles came from everyone's left overs. (The roof is patchwork.) We used free telephone poles for the foundation. The door and windows are all free recycled goods, but the siding is purchased, as well as the floor and roof joists.

On top of the building costs, you'd be surprised how much it cost to feed a bunch of birds! They need laying feed, scratch, grit, special things to put it all in. Don't forget the electricity for the heat lamps while they were young. Oh yeah, the fence... I think you get the point. Already we'd have to sell eggs for the rest of our lives to break even!

Just when you think I've covered the expenses... Now we need something to put all those eggs in. People don'[t want to carry them home in Wal-Mart bags. We only have about two-hundred saved, so last night I went online and researched egg cartons. They hatchery we bought the chicks from sell plain cartons for about 3.3 cents per carton cheaper than the printed ones from another supplier. (Would you believe eggcartons.com?) Hubby liked the printed ones. I don't blame him. They do look nice, don't they?
And for just a few bucks difference, why not. So I clicked on eight-hundred and went to my cart to settle it. At about $186 we could have a good supply of cartons. I enter my shipping information and click. Then comes the total... Add another $75 for shipping! OK, so Hubby's going to have to settle for the plain ones that are only 45 miles away! That is, if we can pick them up...

I knew somewhere there was a window to heaven, but I didn't expect it to be a double-hung. This was our sunset last night. Do you see the center bar of the sash?

I guess God wanted to keep out the flies and humidity.

With all the creative bloggers out there showing off their quilts (OK, just Grandma Nina), I thought I'd show off mine. Wish I could take credit for it. My daughter's grandparents made this. They passed away in the 1980's. I've had this in my cedar chest for awhile because it didn't really match my decor. I pulled it out because who cares! It's a work of art. This is it on my queen-sized bed...
It has a unique pattern. They were very serious quilters; they measured their stitches constantly to make sure they weren't spreading apart or cramming them too close. This is the border. (I know - duh!)
Noticed the stitched design in the white area? How about the heart? Here's a close-up... (You might have to enlarge to see the detail. I forgot to correct the exposure before uploading. Stupid camera!)
Every quilt they made was dated upon completion. This one is older than my daughter.
I am so thankful to have this to remember them by. It was such an important part of their lives. They sat together, side-by-side in front of the quilting rack for weeks upon weeks. When the quilt was finally finished, they would put the rack away for a while. Next thing you knew, it was back!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Chick Update...

Some of you have been following the story of our baby chicks since day one. Well, actually it was day two. They ship them as day-old chicks. The hatchery is less than 50 miles from here, so they arrived at our post office the next morning. This picture was taken on April 9 when we first got them...

Hubby was pleasantly surprised today when he went to feed the chicks! He wasn't expecting this for another week or so...
You've come a long way, babies!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

This Farmer's Market... Part I

This is my first herb. I planted this beside the new steps to the pool. Ali and I love to much the onion chives in the evening while sitting on the steps looking into the woods. Yum. I plan on adding garlic chives to the other side of the steps. This is where we 'buy' our fresh eggs. It will take eating the eggs for 200 years to really break even on the deal.
Here's a sample of the eggs. Notice the twins in the background?

This is our vegetable garden. Well, I should say, this is Hubby's and his dad's garden. You remember the old saying, two's company, three's a crowd?
These first rows are FIL's white half-runners. Yuck! Strings!

Aw, aren't the baby zucchini cute!

From left to right: FIL's beans, whole row of tomatoes (I don't know how many varieties this year), Hubby's beans (Kentucky bush beans - no strings!), sweet potatoes, and corn. Across the back, climbing the fence, are cucumbers.

The zucchini would be in the bottom of the picture if I hadn't cut them off! I see a stray plant next to the corn. The gardener's bench marks the spot where Hubby left off picking beans.

This raised bed is away from the garden so the melons don't mix. These are Tennessee Muskmelon. My FIL told Hubby about them a few years ago. I went online and found some heirloom seeds. They get long like a watermelon. The best I've ever eaten!

I tried to find some babies, but they hide... So here are some blossoms, and if you look closely... Do you see it? I'm soooo excited! It's a honey bee! While I was holding the blossoms, it came and visited them. (Stupid camera won't let me capture 'the' moment.) I saw another one this morning on the clover! These are the first honey bees I've spotted this year. Our area is one of those you hear about where the bees are disappearing. Seeing them made my day!

Back in the garden... Here are some of the bush beans yet to be picked. I like them young and tender. FIL likes them to get big beans inside. So we pick some early, some late.

Well, I must have reached the maximum for photo uploads on this post.
Check out Part II for the actual market...

To see more farmer's markets, check out Squirrel Queen's challenge.