Green Eggs

April 28, 2011 by

What’s in our food? Read a recent article by Ioannis Mavromichalis, who writes about poultry nutrition for the World Poultry e-newsletter. An egg production facility in Mexico was concerned about the green hue of their eggs. Turns out they had bought ‘a cheap load of imported cottonseed meal’ and added it to their laying hen feed. Background: grain and corn are rising in price and a global crisis re. the price of the feed our animals eat. Efficient producers try to lower costs to maximize profits, right? Cotton seeds contain a yellow pigment called gossypol which is ‘not that harmful’ to birds but will turn egg yolks green, brown, and black. The poultry facility added ferrous sulfate to the feed because iron will bind the gossypol, and keep the eggs from looking green. The hens eating that food continued to produce eggs for market.

We pay attention to the cost of feed, but it seems to make sense that high quality intakes sustain hens who will produce superior eggs. Sunflower seeds are not cheap, but we had fun watching our hens run to gobble up the local sunflower seeds we bought for them this winter. Even Jonathan, the rooster wounded by hawk attack, re-learned how to eat sunflower seeds, he wanted them so much.


2010 in review

January 2, 2011 by

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has 296 steps to reach the top. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2010. If those were steps, it would have climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa 4 times


In 2010, there were 12 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 25 posts. There were 17 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 3mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was February 7th with 47 views. The most popular post that day was What do grass fed chickens eat in February?.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for gathering eggs, steep hollow farm ithaca, sustainable chicken project, sustainable chicken, and steep hollow farm.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


What do grass fed chickens eat in February? February 2010
1 comment


About the Sustainable Chicken Project. June 2009
1 comment


Become a Member June 2009


Preparing Food Scraps June 2009


“Chicken Surprise” August 2009

Congratulate Yourselves

September 30, 2010 by

Our customers deserve praise. By going out of your way to eat our eggs you are an important part of the Sustainable Chicken Project. We read an interesting sentence on the web site for the Alexandre Family EcoDairy Farm web site,
“Where does your food come from?
Do you deserve good food?
There are so many reasons why we can’t have both cheap and good food. Many ‘organic’ eggs are produced in factory farms where the birds never touch the ground, experience open air, or eat grass. These things require space and time, which increase costs. or out?

February 25, 2010 by

As chickens themselves phase in and out of fashion, so does the egg. Many hold on to the notion of eggs as unhealthy. We just checked the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source to see what they had to say about eggs. “A solid body of research shows that for most people, cholesterol in food has a much smaller effect on blood levels of total cholesterol and harmful LDL cholesterol than does the mix of fats in the diet. Recent research has shown that moderate egg consumption—up to one a day—does not increase heart disease risk in healthy individuals and can be part of a healthy diet.” Now to find out more about carotenoids, which are undoubtably higher in eggs of chickens eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and grasses, like ours do. Carotenoids can be antioxidants, and we all like the sound of the word ‘anti-oxidant’.

The ‘It Bird’

February 22, 2010 by

-Title of an article by Susan Orlean in the September 26, 2009 New Yorker. She cites Martha Stewart as having been the possible inspiration for the latest wave of chicken love sweeping the nation. Martha included photos of her rare-breed chickens in her first book,’Entertaining’ and based the colors in her first line of paints on their egg shell colors. Orlean reminds us that before the 1930’s eggs were only availabe seasonally. We have just experienced this normal reduction or even cessation of laying, when day length decreases…I was told to expect it but somehow didn’t believe that light could make such a difference if good food in adequate supply remained constant. Now, in February, as they begin to lay more, we can start to think of more egg-rich dishes. The supermarket supply of eggs being constant year-round, we have forgotten the seasonal nature of a hen. We could have added artificial light, but took the advice of an experienced organic egg farmer and gave the girls a rest.

Broody girl

February 22, 2010 by

One little hen has gone broody. All she wants to do is sit, preferably on eggs. She is lighter than a feather, having stopped eating much, as a hen sitting on eggs would have to do to keep them warm and protected. We remove all the eggs from the colony house several times a day, so she is mostly sitting alone in an empty nest box. In the evening we take her out, set her on the roosts with the other hens, and she scolds, expresses displeasure and dissatisfaction and quickly hops down and re-seats herself in the nest box. It would be interesting to know what has inspired this stubborn will in her. Weather? Season? Roosters? We are told that the only cure for this condition is to change her location completely, so she will begin to eat normally (and will resume laying eggs!)

More E B White

February 18, 2010 by

He writes that he can “squeeze everything (he) knows about chickens into a single paragraph”, including the advice to “Tie your shoelaces in a double knot in the morning when you get dressed, since hens are under the impression that shoelaces are worms”
My advice would be to always wear a hat when tending chickens. More than once a friendly hen has taken a notion to fly up and land on my head and appears to have every intention of staying there for a good long time. Perhaps it is one of the three hens who like to roost on the top shelf of what might have been nest boxes until we found out that hens prefer to lay eggs in low down places. At night every other hen, well, except one, (more in the next post on this,) is on the roosts, cuddled up against her neighbor, but three big hens want to hang out on the top shelf. way up high. Since we gave up expecting anyone to lay in those boxes I don’t try to move them. Hens like to lay their eggs in a box where someone else has laid an egg, so four boxes would probably be sufficient for the 95 hens, and we might find 1-10 eggs per box.

Two egg cake

February 16, 2010 by

I’m in love with a cake and have made this one twice in the last three days, inspired by a boy with a birthday who loves cake. Pulled the oldest cookbook off the shelf, although the cover may look older because of the use it’s had. “The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book” by Fannie Merritt Farmer was first published in 1896, but this is the sixth edition, from 1937, edited by Wilma Lord Perkins. Chapter 45 is “Loaf and Layer Cakes.” Instructions are given for different approaches to Sponge Cakes, Butter Cakes, and mixing cakes with an electric beater. The Two-Egg Cake comes after Lightning Cake and Prize Cake, and it begins with a neat trick that produces a substance of a different texture than I’ve ever encountered…you cream the butter with half the sugar, OK, but add the rest of the sugar to the well-beaten afore-mentioned 2 eggs. Then the sugary egg mixture goes into the sugary butter mixture, and oh, is that a light and lovely way to start a cake! 1.75 cups flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsp baking powder are sifted together and then added to the buttery sweet eggy stuff alternately with 1/2 cup milk. As soon as it’s mixed thoroughly, and this is not one of the recipes recommended for the electric beater, you add 1/2 tsp vanilla, put in buttered cake pans and bake 20 minutes at 375. I’d like to try the currant cake version, with 1 cup currants mixed with 1 tablespoon flour.

Chickens in fashion

February 16, 2010 by

I’m reading a collection of essays by E.B. White, and went straight for his “The Hen (An Appreciation)”, written in 1944. He writes,”Chickens do not always enjoy an honorable position among city -bred people, although the egg, I notice, goes on and on. Right now the hen is in favor. The war has deified her, and she is the darling of the home front, feted at the conference tables, praised in every smoking car, her girlish ways and curious habits the topic of many an excited husbandryman to whom yesterday she was a stranger without honor or allure.” Yes, I’ve noticed that it’s the same now…there are a few people who want to talk ‘hen’, some just for the fun of it, but everybody appreciates the superior egg, which is no laughing matter.

What do grass fed chickens eat in February?

February 4, 2010 by

These hens get pretty good rations, but they still look at us questioningly, asking where the green grass and bugs are. We are soaking chopped alfalfa cubes, tossing them field corn ears from the Ithaca Sound Maze, cutting open acorn squash, $5/box apples, $2/head giant cabbages, sunflower seeds, trays of sprouted oat grass, hay. all this in addition to offering the organic laying mash from Lakeview Organic. Their black feathers absorb the sun when it comes out, and they hold up one foot and then the other. Jasper noticed that they look pretty fluffy, and the eggs under hens in the laying boxes come out warm to the touch. Egg production has increased since the recent full moon…the brightest full moon of the year