Posts Tagged ‘free range eggs’

dozen_eggsThe incredible edible egg. We love them and we fear them. Should we eat more of them, or run from them? Are they giving us heart attacks or are they full of good things to make us strong and healthy? Where’s the truth? What should we do?

I want to cut through the propaganda, and give you a high level, short answer and hopefully clear things up for you a bit. If you want to know more, there are plenty of articles, stories and research papers out there to keep you reading the rest of your life.

The spark for this post was a Facebook poster showing the inside of two boiled eggs. One had a deep golden yolk, captioned, ‘organic’. The other was light yellow, with those familiar green hues we’ve all become familiar with from traditional boiled eggs, and captioned, “gmo”.

I will leave aside the photo manipulation and let you do your own homework as to how that was done. Let’s just say, it was extremely misleading.

My gripe is with the labeling. There is no such thing as a GMO egg.  And, in a sense, all eggs are ‘organic’. They are laid by living chickens and laid in a natural way, thus organic.

The organic vs. GMO argument is about the feed given to the hens.  And even then, the photo can be misleading.

In a confined, commercial chicken house, where thousands of hens are kept in tight, controlled conditions, if hens are fed grain based diets, devoid of sunlight, then even if the feed is ‘organic’ the eggs will have pale, lifeless, nutritionally lacking yolks.

Conversely, if hens are free ranging, and have access to fields of GMO corn and wheat, the yolks will be rich yellow, and still be ‘GMO’ fed.

It’s all about sunlight and chlorophyll. That color comes from access to real sunlight and omega 3 rich grasses (Remember, corn, wheat, barley, etc. are grasses when they’re at home).

Eggs from free range hens, are more nutritious, and attractive, than those from battery raise ones, because of the variety in their diet, and because of their access to sunlight and the chlorophylls in the green plants they consume.  These greens are full of omega 3s which are good for you.

The chicken house raised birds, generally produce paler, flavor reduced eggs that are higher in omega 6 fatty acids, which are the ones that block our arteries. 

And remember, chickens are omnivores rather than vegetarians. They eat all kinds of things when left to their own devices, so feeding them a restricted vegetarian diet, whether organic or GMO, is preventing them from the balanced, nutrient rich fare they really need.

So, looking for ‘cage free’, ‘vegetarian fed’, or, ‘organic’ labels on supermarket eggs, means very little. They are marketing gimmicks. Don’t fall for them. They don’t ensure anything for you, other than a higher total at the check out.  ‘Free Range’ is the label you’re looking for. And even that might be misleading.

Raise your own birds, if you can, or buy directly from a farmer or at a farmers’ market for the best results.

I know many of you are raising, or want to raise, birds, but don’t have the space to free range them. Perhaps your community has restrictions that keep you from doing so. If that’s you, don’t worry.  If you make sure you have a nice a roomy, dry shelter for protection from the elements, and a run where your chickens can get real sunlight you’ll be fine.  In addition to a good chicken feed, give them access to some table scraps, and include plenty of lettuce, kale, and other greens and they will reward you with lots of awesome, delicious, and nutritious eggs.  I promise.

Do you raise your own chickens or other birds? If so, tell us about your results? We’d love to hear them?  Got questions about how to get started? Then use the comments section to ask this awesome group of readers.  We’re here to help. After all, we’re all in this together.



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goatsSo much for ‘a long winter’s nap’.  Spring is upon us in all its busy glory.  Where did the peaceful winter go?  Yikes.

First, kidding season has begun and is nearly over.  We have 10 baby goats on the ground and only one more doe left to kid.

In a related matter, Brittan has begun milking.  She’s doing things a bit differently this year and leaving the kids with their mothers and only milking once a day until weaning.  As a result, we’re not going to have much milk available for customers until around the end of April, but I’ll be having my chocolate milk nightcap on a regular basis.  I can’t figure out why I don’t lose any weight…..

The greenhouse is up and operational.  It’s far from finished, but at least it’s functional.  I’m so happy about that and so grateful to everyone who pitched in on weekends to make it happen.  We have a seedlingsfew things growing in it already.  The strawberries are looking good as are some herbs and a couple of early tomato plants.  I have several seedling trays going and have more to start.  I’m way behind getting beds ready for planting, but still have plenty of time to catch up…if I get my wide side in gear and get going, that is.

We move the aquaponics unit into the greenhouse this weekend and should have some lettuces and herbs going in it very soon. I’ve decided to focus on the Tilapia business this year and wait until next greenhousespring to do the crawfish.  I am very good at putting too many irons in the fire and getting burned, so just this one time, I’m going to focus on one fish project only.  That means, I’ll be ordering this year’s Tilapia and my breeding colony within the month.  Watch this space for pre ordering fish that will be ready to harvest this fall.  My plan right now, is to do this just like we used to do with chickens and take reservations.  I know that we’ve had loads of requests for them already, so it will be first come, first serve.

Since we were surprised by baby pigs, our pork project is way off schedule.  We should have had two in the freezer and instead we have 5 babies being fed by one of the sows and the other one is looking pretty pregnant to me.  It will be at least May now before we have any pork.  On the other hand, we have this year’s feeder pigs already on the ground, so the glass really is half full.  Watch for details of pastured pork being available this autumn.

We are out of the beef business.  For space and financial reasons, and because of my health, we had to find new homes for our cows.  It was an extremely difficult and emotional decision, but the right one.  We are comfortable with our decision.

We have eggs.  Yay!  The girls are laying well, as one would expect this time of year, and we are collecting quite a few.  Unfortunately, the pigs are collecting their fair share, too.  As a result, we’re going to have to build a pen to feed the pigs in and to put them in at night so we can actually gather eggs before they do.  We love having our porkers ranging, but since we can’t keep them from stealing, they’re going to have to spend some time in their cell, and we’ll let them out on a work release program.  We have them in our worst pasture so they can root it up and allow us to replant. If they get their fill of eggs, though, they will never get the plowing done.shadows

We do hope to have a few rabbits born this spring, as well.  The only kindle so far, had two in it and they were born outside the nest and died.  It happens to first time rabbit mothers sometimes.  Hopefully, two more are pregnant right now.  We’ll know in a few weeks.

I think that catches you all up for now.  I will try and be more diligent about taking photos.  I’m really terrible about remembering to capture images.  Please have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

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Sometimes, raising animals naturally is hard, really hard. This is one of those times.

A couple weeks ago, our Black Spanish turkey hen hatched out a dozen or fourteen beautiful little big eyed poults.  We have marveled at how she has taken to mothering and how Thomas, the dad, has so easily adapted to his role as guardian of the flock.

Our little turkey family have roamed over the farm, foraging through the pastures as ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ teach their little ones the ways of the world.

All that came to a sudden end yesterday in the torrential rains that found their way to North Georgia.

Turkeys are not the brightest of animals.  They are easily confused and can become distraught very quickly.  For reasons I will never know, our new mother led her babies into, rather than away from danger.  It did not end well.

Last night during chores, B noticed both adult turkeys eating with the chickens.  That was the first bad sign.  Once my chores were done, I went looking for the birds.  I soon spotted Thomas and his Mrs. wandering frantically, searching for their brood.

I found them. All dead; drowned in a puddle not 8 feet from shelter.  My heart sank.  It was quite emotional picking up all those little carcasses and disposing of them.  Sure, we’ve had birds die before, but this one seemed so senseless.  Frankly, we could have avoided it by intervening and taking the babies away as soon as they were born and putting them in a brooder box like the baby chicks we buy from the hatchery. But we wanted to raise them naturally.  Unfortunately, nature can be harsh.

Life goes on.  We have baby goats everywhere, along with four young pigs who are growing wilder as they grow larger.  The little porkers scamper about the field, enjoying every minute of life.  They have no fear of the rain or the floods. On the contrary, the water provides them an opportunity to do more damage, by softening up the ground and making rooting not only easier, but more inviting.

We have a donkey foal and a calf in the oven, due later in the year. Last fall’s batch of hens is starting to lay.  Life is good. Life is also fragile. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.



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We get asked a lot of questions by customers, neighbors, readers of this blog and other curious sorts, about the diets of our animals.  Mostly they are regarding soy, antibiotics, growth hormones and corn.  Some are from people genuinely interested in facts.  Some are from people who’ve recently watched Food, Inc. and are looking to change their eating habits or want to make sure we aren’t cruel to animals.  Some, though, are well meaning, but misguided.

One of my favorites is from people looking for eggs, “Do you feed your chickens an all vegetarian diet?”

“Umm, no, why would we do that?”

Usually, that’s followed by an indignant, “You don’t?” and a rapid end to the conversation.

I always hang up the phone with an amused shake of my head.  The question is so bizarre, that it makes me wonder about the American Public School system.

Ok, to be fair, the marketing of some supermarket eggs, labeled, “fed all vegetarian diet” contributes to the confusion.

The simple fact is, chickens are omnivores just like most other birds, pigs, dogs, cats, grizzly bears and humans.  Ever heard the phrase, “The early bird catches the worm”?  Note: worms are not vegetables.  Chickens love worms, bugs, slugs, ticks, grasshoppers, milk and even meat.  If a chicken dies in the pasture, the rest of the flock will usually eat the thing pretty darned quick.  I’ve seen a carcass picked clean as a whistle by a flock of hens.

A vegetarian diet is not natural for a chicken.  They want to roam the pastures finding goodies hiding in the grass.  Sure, they eat the grass, too, along with corn, oats, wheat and almost anything else that will stay still long enough.

There is nothing noble or healthy about a vegetarian chicken.  We find that our chickens are happiest when they are allowed to free range and eat whatever they can find.  Even after a day of foraging, they clean up their chicken feed and still have room to muscle their way into the pig trough for a bite of whatever goodies the porkers are chowing on.

Admittedly, B and I have only been raising chickens for a year and a half, but we’ve had several hundred pass through the farm and we have yet to meet a vegetarian among them.

Cows are vegetarian. So are sheep, goats, mules, donkeys, rabbits and horses. Chickens and yes, turkeys, are omnivores.  Don’t tell PETA, it will ruin their delusion.



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Our girls are now producing enough beautiful, tasty, healthy, amazing eggs that we can make them available on a limited basis for only $3 a dozen.  They have received rave reviews from those who have tried a dozen so far.  We’ve heard, “This reminds me of the eggs I used to eat as a little girl” and, “My daughter loves them and she doesn’t usually like eggs.”  It makes us very happy to hear things like that.

Whether you get pastured eggs from us, or from some local source near you, once you taste one, you will never confuse them with “organic” or ‘cage free’ eggs from the supermarket.  You can tell the difference in the shell, in the white, in the yolk and in the taste.  Your heart and your taste buds will thank you.

If you want a dozen, just pop us an email or give us a call and we’ll make arrangements.  Yum.

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“Eggs, glorious.  Eggs marvelous. Eggs wonderful, eggs.”   (If you’re old enough to remember that little ditty, then I’m sorry, but like me, you’re pushing your sell by date.)

Our Buff Orpington hens are finally, slowly, getting up to speed.  We had 5 eggs yesterday.  We had 4 the day before that.  As winter gets closer, I expect production to slow down with the shorter days, but by that time, the Rainbows and Rangers should be producing.  By next March or April I think we’ll be getting 12 dozen a week.  With the addition of some Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rocks,  the next year we should have more than double that amount, because both those breeds are heavier producers.

These are exciting times; chickens in the freezer, the last of the garden veggies coming in, eggs filling the fridge, baby goats about to be born, making plans for next year’s garden and livestock.  Life is good.  God is Great.  I am blessed.

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Yesterday, as we were moving the hen pen, Brittan discovered a big surprise.  Actually, it was a very little surprise.  One of our girls had laid an egg for us.  It was quite small, not much bigger than a quail egg, but perfectly formed.  We were so excited.

I have been saying it would be well into October before we got any eggs.  B has been convinced that September would be the month, so she got to enjoy an ‘I told you so’ moment.  Of course, it’s not like those are rare, but she gloated for a while just the same.

I am including a photo with a regular sized egg from a local farm for comparison.  You can see the color and shape are the same, but our egg is tiny.  Some people call them ‘pullet eggs’.  All hens pretty much drop some small ones to begin with.  Soon, the girls will be filling our fridge with plenty of tasty, omega 3 filled golden goodness.

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