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

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Record Breaker!

Remember the giant egg? 
We get some really big ones on a regular basis,
but every now and then...

FIL and I say it's the biggest we've ever had.
Mr J says the other one was bigger.
We may never know...
but we will know if we ever get a bigger one in the future.

FIL held the measuring tape on it so I could document the size.  
7 7/8" around that bad boy!  Or should I say boys...

Now, that's a meal!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Think Tiger Has Too Many Chicks?

Mr J and I have neared divorce over his chicks!  It's not that he has the chicks, or really even how many he has...  It's that he's let them run wild around here!  Imagine the grief it would bring to Elin  (and my heart truly goes out to her) if Tiger let his chicks run wild around the mansion, like Mr J or this guy...

OK, maybe it's not the same, but I've also experienced tremendous grief.  Just take a look at the destruction Mr J's chicks have caused in my territory!  (click to enlarge any photo)

  I had started some young plants here to fill in the open space.  They're gone now.  The border and decorative rocks are all but buried in the mulch, while the barrier that's suppose to be buried has been pulled to the surface by the nasty birds' scratching.

Let me interject here that I do not like chickens.  As much as I love animals, I do not consider chickens in the same catagory.  I do not like chickens.  I love fresh eggs.  I like chicken.  I do not like chickens... plural...  as in alive and running around outside my house!

See the big hole right smack-dab (whatever that means) in the middle of my lemon thyme?

No, I didn't put the hole there as an architectural element.  Those dad-blame (whatever that means) birds did it!  They dug holes in the centers of most of my plants. 

My red sedum has suffered the most damage.  Just look at this...  

See the big bare spots?  ...the chunks of bark laying about?  This sedum is much more prone to breakage than the thyme or other plants.  Here, the chickens have removed every bit of it that was above ground.  Fortunately, it is hardy and will probably grow back. I'm really hoping the white spots are just some left over snow flurries that managed to snuggle into some shadowy crevices.

In this corner of the sidewalk and driveway, I had a nice clump of Japanese blood grass... had being the operative word here.
Notice again the revealed weed blocker, and the way the mulch is scattered over the jelly pebbles.  The mulch used to be just around the grass and on the other side of the border rocks.

Now that I've told you what my garden used to look like, let me tell you what the chickens used to enjoy... running free.  They are still free-range.  It's just that their range is smaller than it used to be.

Here is what they used to have...

The big hen house is in the foreground.  The north end of their pen runs between the little red house and the horse trailer.  (That's Benji coming up the drive.)

In this photo, you can see a distinctive line in front of the hen house, but behind the waterer that is sitting on the pile of bricks.  (keeps the water cleaner)

 That is where the fence used to be.  We extended their area up almost to the barn, as seen in this next shot...

Their area actually goes past the side of the barn.  Mr J has a compost pile over there.   It is like a five-star restaurant to the chickens.  So now they have free access to it.  It's full of little critters they eat.

On a sad note, Mr J has lost one of his hens.  She was a beautiful golden lace.  We don't have a clue why she died.  Mr J wonders if she got into something there in the tall grass by the barn.  FIL has dropped a lot of nails around there and Mr J found some broken glass. 

Here is a close-up of the feathers on another golden lace hen...

He will miss her...

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?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Yummy Eggsplanation

Thanks to the digital camera era, I can take as many pictures as I want to make sure I get a good shot...

...that is, when I remember.

Do you remember my tiny egg?

I promised pictures when I cracked it open. 
I decided to have eggs for lunch today.
I didn't expect a yolk, but it had a teeny bit of yellow inside.

It actually looks bigger in the skillet than I thought it would; although it is just a 6" skillet.
The other egg was twins.  I love double-yolks!

Yeah, I know it's a lot of butter.  Doesn't the little one at the top look cute? 
Well, not as cute as a baby chick, perhaps... but still kinda cute.

OK, I promised you an eggsplanation.  To make a short story long...

We had four hens to start with.  Once they started laying we had four eggs everyday.  Then we got the babies.  (Check some of my April/May posts.)  This fall, they began laying.  But we only get around thirty eggs a day, with almost fifty hens.  I thought maybe lots weren't laying daily, but intermittently.

A friend was over last night and offered his theory.  Some of our hens probably hadn't started laying yet, and this was most likely a first egg for one of them.  He hadn't seen one quite that small, but said that a lot of times the first egg will be a lot smaller than the others.  That's a relief!  If they all started laying these Cadbury sized eggs, Mr J would starve!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Farmer's Market Challenge

It's time again for the Farmer's Market Challenge hosted by Squirrel Queen at The Road to HereThe purpose of this challenge is to raise awareness for purchasing locally produced foods. Be it fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat, or any related items we want to know what's available where you live.

I have too many posts on our garden crops to link here.  Please visit my earlier posts to see all the goodies we grow for ourselves.  This year we didn't sell any vegetables, since we planted a lot more variety of vegetables.  We only planted for ourselves and to give away.

This is the harvest edition.  All our crops have been picked and stored for the winter.   We have enough green beans and corn in the freezer to last until next fall's harvest.  There are also many bags of shredded zucchini in the freezer.  Mr J uses it to make his special bread.  We gave away most of our Tabasco chili peppers.  It was our first year for growing them and sweet potatoes.  Mr J built a rack in the basement to store the potatoes.

 Danger:  Intense Heat!  We don't use a lot of these...
 Our fruit harvest is small, but tasty.  The trees are still young.

Even though the leaves are mostly gone and the garden is tilled under, we still have home grown food.  Our hens are laying between two and three dozen eggs a day!  These we do sell.  We hope to make enough to pay for the feed.  The green eggs are popular with the kids.  They are super yummy!

We are blessed to be able to grow so much of our own food.  We know our hens are not shot up with all kinds of hormones and antibiotics.  We know our vegetables aren't tainted with pesticides.  Our fruit may have spots from bugs, but I know it won't make our grandchildren sick.

Today, farmer's markets are gaining in popularity.  Almost everyone lives close enough to one to enjoy fresh organic fruits and vegetables.  I encourage you to take advantage of these markets.  And don't just buy enough for dinner, but enough to freeze or can.  It's not only a healthier choice... it's a tastier choice!  Fresh without chemicals is always better.

Please visit Squirrel Queen's blog to find other posts on the fall harvest.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Poor, poor hen...

Now I know why I hear so much squawking!

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!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Chickens Can Learn

Well, it took them a while, but the chicks are finally using both their brains and the door. Now, instead of standing in the opening looking at the great beyond, they actually go through the door and down to the grass. Yea! And they've learned to go back inside before dark. It's a milestone. It's the equivalent of your toddler finally going number two in the potty! Daddy is proud. I'm sure if they hadn't been evicted, they would still be standing there, gazing out at the strange green stuff.

Do you suppose they are agoraphobiacs? If they were raised outside, would they be afraid to go in? I wonder if there are other animal species that fear the big world.

I remember the first time our goats saw snow... We had five that we raised from babies. They stood packed together in the back door of their shed staring at the white stuff. One of them finally stretched a foot over the threshold. Woah! What the heck is that stuff? You sink in it! It was fun watching them test it over and over until they finally summoned up the courage to brave it. I don't remember now how long it took them to venture out, but chickens, if you're reading this, it was the SAME DAY!

The four laying hens we have were several months old when we got them, so they were already accustomed to the outdoors. They are over a year old now. Hubby says they have to be kept separate from the young ones until the babies get bigger. In an earlier post I mentioned how the house was divided. When the chicks got too big for their small corner, Hubby moved the grown hens to a separate house so the babies could have the whole big house to themselves.

Hubby's first wife's father (now deceased) built bird houses. That's what I'd always been told. Bird houses. Those cute little things you hang from tree branches, right? Nope. We're talking big bird houses! When Hubby got ready to have chickens, they gave him one of the bird houses. That's where the hens live now. It's big enough for probably a dozen hens. He was quite the craftsman. Hubby added the little chick door on the side, the ladder, handles and wheels. It's a mobile home for chickens!

It's hard to believe that, in another three months or so, the fifty new hens will be laying eggs. I guess they can all live together peacefully by then - the young and the old. That will be fifty-four hens laying eggs every day! Does anyone out there have any egg recipes they'd like to share?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lazy Day Breakfast Fun

Storms hit in the wee hours and woke up the entire house! We got two inches of rain, so it's a bit too muddy to work on the project. That meant today would be a lazy day. Ali decided she wanted some farm-fresh eggs for breakfast. She likes them under-seasoned and over-cooked. YUCK! But just because they're not full of things doesn't mean they have to be plain...

I cooked her a big flat egg patty with ruffled edges. She added the face! Maybe tomorrow we'll get back to work.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

farm fresh eggs & landscaping

I thought I'd add this to tonight's blog for you city folks... If you've never had farm fresh eggs, (and I'm not referring to the ones in the store labeled 'farm fresh') you should give them a try. I decided to have a three-egg omelet for dinner tonight. Out came the camera. I decided a little milk in the bowl and a shot of mustard would let you see the difference in the yolk color. I can't wait until the new hens start laying. We have twenty-five that will lay 'Easter eggs'. Their yolk is so dark it's almost the color of an orange. But the taste? WOW! Yes, this omelet was yummy.

The point of my shame... These steps lead from my bedroom balcony to a point halfway between the pool area at the corner of the house and the patio below the deck. Yes, we have lived here five years and still use planks to cross over the mud! We have had many projects that seemed to have pushed their way to the top of the list... i.e. chicken house, horse stalls, goat shed, pastures, front gardens, vegetable garden, raised melon bed, driveway maintenance, chopping wood, electric fences, gates and posts, sick old people... Now, Hubby finally agrees to help me build this steps.

Here's the plan I drew up tonight: a landing at the bottom, four steps up to the pool area, parallel steps going down to the patio area, boulders, blue ornamental grass and pink flowers fill in between the structure and lawn, slightly taller plants bordering the foundation with pink in-between, cedar mulch

Let me know what you think. BTW, for those that will ask how I did this: I used excel to draw the wood plans, then copy/paste to paint to add the finishing details. I don't need a landscaping program.