We are lucky indeed to live in a part of the country where we can truly get farm-fresh pasture raised eggs. Not only that, but there are lots of options! Looking in the Corner’s egg fridge today, we are selling eggs from 3 very local farms, SpringRain Farm, Finnriver Farm, and Ananda Hills Farm. We thought we’d use Easter as an opportunity to celebrate the local egg and to profile our neighboring chickens and ducks.
This is the “local chicken and duck post”, but before we begin I want to alert you to the other 3 eggy posts out this week:
ANANDA HILLS FARM, Pt Ludlow (6.2 miles south of the store)
Ananda Hills Farm eggs are the eggs you’ll want to choose if you have a sensitivity to soy as Jennie Watkins has chosen to supplement her chicken’s foraging with a no-soy organic grain feed. We are also selling sweet little pullet eggs from Ananda – perfect for petite eaters or for Easter eggs that are a little different from the norm. Pullet Eggs are the first few eggs laid by adolescent chickens. Using standard egg sizing convention, pullet eggs are usually either “small” or “peewee”.
Jennie’s 120 hens have the run of 4 sloping grassy acres perched above Center Valley and neighboring Dharma Ridge Farm. Over the years, Jennie has tried more than a dozen different kinds of chickens, including the higher producing hybrids, but has settled in on a rotation of several heritage breeds that work well on her farm. She feels the heritage breeds are hardier, better foragers of their own food and produce a higher quality egg- despite the fact they produce about 25 less eggs per year per hen than the hybrids. Currently she has Delawares, Black Australorps, & Barred Plymouth Rocks as her main flock. She also keep a few Ameraucaunas for their green eggs and Marans for their dark chocolate eggs. Next week she has a batch of New Hampshire Red chicks arriving. By the time those chicks reach 5 months of age they will be ready to lay – just in time before the older hens decrease their production come autumn.
The chickens at Ananda Hills are part of an integrated farm system which includes multi-species grazing. The sheep and chickens benefit one another and the soil as they work the land together. They are protected by two livestock guardian dogs.
To read more about Jennie and Ananda Hills Farm, read our farmer profile “Jennie Watkins: An Omnivore’s Journey”
SPRINGRAIN FARM AND ORCHARD, Chimacum (.8 miles north of the store )
SpringRain Farm eggs are the only eggs in our vicinity that are certified organic. John Bellow is our biggest egg producer; his chickens (about 1000 layers and 300 broilers) and turkeys are at the heart of his farming operation. During the day they seem to have the run of the place, foraging for bugs, seeds, and residual crops in the farm’s extensive fields. They are kept in small flocks and moved frequently for fresh pickings. Besides providing eggs, the birds play important roles in Integrated Pest Management, and in keeping the orchards and other plants nourished with their composted manure. At night they retire to a large assortment of small shelters, many of them made from repurposed vintage RVs. In addition to foraging, the birds dine on fresh organic feed from In Seasons Farm (Abbotsford, BC).
SpringRain has chosen to raise a large variety of laying hens including Buff Orpingtons, Red Stars, Black Stars, Rhode Island Reds, and Barred Rocks, the majority of which are rated as endangered breeds by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. The “Chimacum Ranger” is John’s meat bird (broiler) originally developed for the French gourmet market (red label) that is well adapted to pasture production with organic methods, but we digress.
The plentiful SpringRain heritage turkeys also lay eggs, but their eggs are all incubated to produce truly locally sourced organic turkeys for Thanksgiving. Alas, no turkey egg omelets for us. I would encourage you to watch John in a new series of videos made by former farm intern Julia Dodd (coolthingsinnature) as he talks about his beloved chickens. Tassie is impressed with John’s acting skills and claims he is even better than Bill Nye the Science Guy!
If you are inspired to know more about John and SpringRain Farm, read our extensive farmer profile – “John Bellow and SpringRain Farm”.
FINNRIVER FARM, Chimacum (3.2 miles south of the store)
Finnriver eggs are what you’ll buy at the Corner if you’re looking for duck eggs. Finnriver raises chickens (250 Araucanas, Barred Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, Black Australorps, Black Stars and Red Stars, which are fed organic grain and pasture raised), but it is the duck eggs I am going to talk about today.
Finnriver first ventured into ducks last summer when they had an outbreak of mummy berry in their prized blueberry fields. As outlined in a previous post, mummy berry is a fungus and the ducks were recruited to eat the shriveled fallen blueberries which fortuitously the ducks find a delicacy. While cleaning the field of the fungus spores they also weed and fertilize the blueberries. With any luck, there will be many more blueberries for us this summer.
Janet Aubin and Jeff Horwath, in charge both of the blueberries and poultry operation decided on 2 duck breeds; the larger Rouens look like Mallards and come from France, while the more slender Khaki Campbells are English. The Rouens are voracious eaters (good meat birds) and were chosen to eat the most mummy berries. The Khaki Campbells were added to the flock for their wonderful eggs. They lay about the same number of eggs as a good laying chicken.
Finnriver has about 50 ducks. In the winter and fall they live amongst the blueberries where they love the many flooded puddles. In the spring and summer they move up to the shore pines which were planted as a windbreak to the blueberries. Janet says that ducks are definitely wilder and less domesticated than chickens. Although the ducks are provided nice roosting shelters, they seem to prefer to lay their eggs outside making it challenging for the farmers who have to get up real early to find the eggs before the ravens.
Compared to chicken eggs, duck eggs are higher in protein and fat and have proportionally bigger yolks. They also have a slightly stronger egg flavor which most prefer when given a taste test. Janet says that if you are the type that likes your fried egg mainly for it’s runny yolk, then this is the yolk for you. She also claims it makes the best pumpkin pie on earth. If she is scrambling up some chicken eggs, she likes to add a duck egg for flavor.