Farm? Fresh? Eggs

This article makes several very valid points about purchasing truly healthy eggs from humanely raised hens such as:

“Chicken farming is all about PROFITS. Don’t be fooled by clever marketing phrases on the cartons. A box of eggs with a picture of a pretty chicken frolicking on a green grassy field with the wording, “Fresh Eggs” is tricky and deceiving. It translates to ‘Miserable Chickens: buy these eggs so we can make more money while you eat a low-nutrient egg.'”

I’ll add my own note here, I see a lot of advertisement at Farmer’s Markets for “Farm Fresh Eggs” or “Free Range Eggs.”  What does that really mean?  Aren’t eggs raised on Factory Farms “farm” eggs?  I mean, the chickens are raised on a “farm” aren’t they? Are they not “fresh?”  I guess the only thing you can know for sure is that they are eggs.

This time of year at the Farmer’s Market eggs are in short supply.  Devoted (educated) shoppers know this and get there early to get their eggs or reserve them ahead of time.  I told Wally that we should hold some eggs back until around 11:00 to sell to those late-comers and see if they’d pay $10/dozen for them.  Some of them probably would; there are people that this economy has not impacted.  Of course I wouldn’t do that, but I think about it.  Then, when there are a lot of eggs at the market, you can’t give them away!  People simply do not realize that eggs are seasonal.  Everything is seasonal!  Just because you can buy it in a grocery store doesn’t mean it was grown properly in the correct season.

Back to the article:  “Vegetarian — This term may be used to imply that chickens are eating a “healthier” diet, when in fact they are eating corn, soybeans, and grain.”

Chickens are NOT vegetarians!  In fact, they are quite like dinosaurs in their desire to eat meat.  I have to make sure I feed our dogs and cats in an area where the chickens cannot get to because they will risk life or limb to steal meat from the dogs or cats.  You should see them fight over June bugs or frog carcasses that the cats leave lying around.  They look like dinosaurs running around with carnage in their mouths!

The article further states:

“Chicken feed may be your feed too!

Did you know that chickens are naturally omnivores, and should be eating bugs, insects, and grub, which in essence produces nutrient-rich eggs? They are not vegetarians!

Chicken farmers may add soy and corn to their chicken’s diet, pumping them up with GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms)! These ingredients are much cheaper than animal products.”

This is why I like the Animal Welfare Approved egg cartons so much.  The literature on the cartons state exactly what it is that you are getting in the carton:

  • Pasture Raised Eggs from hens raised outdoors with the highest welfare standards
  • “For eggs from chickens that live in the sort of utopia conveyed by the images on most egg
    cartons, look for Animal Welfare Approved.” – New York Times
  • Sustainably raised outdoors on a family farm.

I guess different people have different ideas of a “farm.”  I’ve simply always tried to keep my animals in as natural an environment and diet as I possibly can.  I refuse to have chickens if I have to keep them up in a “lot.”  I know Wally would like nothing better to have all of the chickens confined, but I refuse.  I certainly understand why he wants the chickens confined, they are aggravating, destructive, dirty creatures, but they are what they are … chickens.

The goal next year is to utilize the acreage behind the house to raise our chickens in electric netting and movable night time housing.  We’ll see if we are able to get to that point.  The acreage behind us is under utilized right now and would benefit from chickens being rotated over it.  On my list of daily to-do’s is to spend an hour each day working on grants AND an hour in the garden AND an hour cleaning the house AND an hour job hunting.

Yesterday I made contact with a man who is in charge of coaching farmers in developing sustainable poultry flocks.  I’ve talked to him before back when I was looking at Delawares.  He said he has a good flock of Standard Cornish and invited me to join his organization.  I’d love to, but unfortunately, the annual dues are $1,000!  That brings me back to something I’ve said and felt all along, you can farm and you can do it right and you can make some sort of living at it, but there’s another way to do it and that way takes a good bit of money.  We cannot afford to pay $1,000 annual dues to have an individual come to the farm and help set up this flock.  It will take us a lot longer working on our own to get to the point of having a good, sustainable flock, but, unless we win the lottery, a $1,000 annual membership fee, is not in the cards.  We have to make due as best we can and hope for the best.  So far, I feel sure we are holding our own with the other farmers at the Charlotte Market, at least those outside.  The ones that are inside are the extremely well-established farms with a solid client base that they’ve developed for years.

It all takes time and patience, something I don’t have much of, but I have no choice but to be patient, creative, resourceful and work hard.

Until later …