Egg Food

February 4, 2010 by

We are not as reliant or creative with eggs as our grandparents were. But the egg is such a perfect balance of protein and nutrient-enriched fats. I found a well worn cookbook on the shelves here at Steep Hollow Farm, “The new Butterick Cook Book”, revised and enlarged by Flora Rose, co-head of the school of Home Economics of Cornell University, published in 1924 and inscribed to my grandmother by the author and Martha Van Rensselaer in 1925. The preface by MVR begins,”Cooking has always seemed to me one of the most alluring meeting-places of science and art.” The index begins the book, and fifteen pages are allotted to Egg Dishes. The first recipe in that chapter is Egg Toast: 6 slices toast, 6 eggs, butter or butter substitute, salt and pepper. Moisten the edges of the toast with hot water and spread it with butter or butter substitute. Separate the yolks and whites of the eggs. Poach the yolks in salted water until soft cooked, and place one on each slice of toast, being careful not to break it. Beat the whites until very stiff, spread in circles around the yolks, season with salt and pepper, and brown in the oven. Serve hot.

Crabcakes?!

February 4, 2010 by

We began this project with the intention of feeding organic poultry feed and have not wavered, although the cost is about twice that of regular pountry feed. We used chick starter from Lakeview Organic Grain Mill in Penn Yan, NY, and it was lovely fragrant stuff, so sweet smelling that I wanted to run my fingers through it, and lift it to smell the perfume. Then we bought organic laying pellets from Agway. There was nothing beautiful about them but there was some satisfaction in communicating our demand for organic to the traditional supplier. After solving a few logistical hurdles we again bought locally produced organic Chicken Layer Mash from Lakeview, and I opened the first bag with great anticipation of that sweet aroma and was surprised to find the aroma of, well, the beach! A quick look at the tag told me why. After the organic corn, organic roasted soybeans, organic oats, comes CRABMEAL, aragonite, Fertrell Poultry Balancer which includes SEAWEED meal). A whole host of other aspergillus and lactobacillus compounds round out the ingredients. 

Hurray, thanks for the article, Ithaca Journal

January 28, 2010 by

We were thrilled to receive front page coverage for the Sustainable Chicken Project, thanks, Stacey Shackford and photographer Simon Wheeler. I really love the angle he got for the photo, with Tom in front and the big barn and pond in the background. And thanks, Simon…your caption under the photo describes the project perfectly…”the chickens eat insects and worms found in the compost made from food waste collected in Ithaca.” This gives us an opportunity to clarify that we compost all the food scraps collected from households in Ithaca…we want more organic inputs on the farm, so we will appreciate having the compost come planting time. And yes, we’ll let the hens forage in the finished compost to see what tasty bugs they can find. They are very good ‘spreaders’ of anything in a neat pile.

Appearances can be deceiving

January 28, 2010 by

So it’s different in the chicken world. The snappiest dressers are not necessarily the best producers. In fact, those chickens with the bright red combs and glossy black feathers might be culled, yes, that word is just as chilling as you might think, because they are obviously putting their energy into appearance and not into production. I wish someone would look at me and say,’she looks a little worn out…faded comb, legs not so bright yellow, wow, that’s a productive woman, keep her!’

Our First Jumbo Egg

August 17, 2009 by

A couple of days ago I found a really large egg.  It was easily the largest I have seen so far.  I did a little research and discovered that we have our first jumbo egg.  To be classed as “jumbo” an egg must weigh at least 2.5 ounces.  Our egg weighed 2.6 ounces (73.8 g.) and measured 2-11/16 inches (6.8 cm.) by 1-3/4 inches (4.4 cm.)  And it was from a hen that was not quite 6 months old!  (Most of our hens turned 6 months old on Aug. 15-16.)  It was a double-yolker to boot!  Good work little hen.

Eggs for Sale!

August 14, 2009 by

We are now getting full-sized eggs, still mixed in with pullet eggs as our hens are of varying ages.  We have sold our first few eggs to our food scrap subscribers and will be selling them at one or two nearby local outlets as well in the coming weeks.  And good eggs are good for you!  See http://www.incredibleegg.org/health.html for more information on egg nutrition.  Our eggs are not certified organic, but meet many of the criteria of organic eggs–organic grains only, no antibiotics, hormones or other feed additives, no beak trimming (a horrible practice!), pasture-raised, free-ranging life-style.   For some information on the difference between organic eggs and “conventional” eggs see http://ezinearticles.com/?Supermarket-Eggs-vs-Organic-Eggs-From-Free-Ranging-Chickens&id=1546825 and http://trusted.md/blog/vreni_gurd/2006/12/01/conventional_vs_organic_vs_free_range_meat_poultry_eggs_and_dairy.  An Internet search will reveal many other sources of information pointing to the superior qualities of organic methods in the production of eggs.

Chicken or Egg?

August 14, 2009 by

I think the chicken came first.  On top of that they do some really cute stuff.  Take look at two of our girls in the same next box… and the eggs on which they were sitting.

“Chicken Surprise”

August 14, 2009 by

“Chicken Surprise” is not a fancy new chicken recipe.  It is what the chickens gave us–a REAL surprise–when we last moved the coop on August 1st.   The coop move was was uneventful.  We have moved the coop several times now and have worked out most of the bugs of the move.  But looking back to where the coop had been I saw dozens and dozens of eggs that had been laid under the coop!!  We were wondering why our egg production wasn’t ramping up and now we know why.  The things one learns the hard way as novice chicken farmers.  We suspected that something strange was going on, but we had no idea how easy it was for the hens to get under the coop to do their laying!

Christianne’s daughter spent quite awhile gathering the eggs and her father, Tom, seen driving the tractor in some of our photos, opened up all the eggs and inspected each one.  Only four or so of the 128 eggs collected were bad.  Christianne cooked up many of them and fed them to the chickens.

We spent nearly 2 hours “securing” the open borders of the chicken coop.  We need to develop a better system for the next move, but we used fencing, chicken wire, boards and rocks to seal up the access to under the coop.  All of a sudden the egg production went way up!  We are now at about 50 eggs per day with more standard-sized eggs than pullet eggs.  There are about 15 hens that are behind the initial shipment of chicks we received in mid-February, so our production should peak somewhat higher over time.

We are hoping for no more “Chicken Surprise” any time soon!

Moving Day at the Farm

July 22, 2009 by

This past Saturday morning (7/18) we moved the coop from the hill overlooking the pond all the way to the near the apple tree up by the house.  The chickens had completely mowed down the previous pasture in two weeks (see the last photo) and the move gave them a new pasture and a new “jungle” as well.  All went well and some of the steps in the move can be followed in the photos below.

A Double Yolker!

July 22, 2009 by

A day or two ago we got our first double yolk egg.  It was a smallish pullet egg, so I was very surprised when I saw the two yolks.  Hopefully, this presages eggs to come.  If you would like to learn more about eggs and nutrition I higly recommend the short video to be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=345XJ31pBgM&feature=channel.  In less than 3 minutes it gives you a very good overview of the nutrition of the egg and why good quality eggs are better for you than commercial eggs.  Tom