A New Term….

Wondering what it is? Well I will tell you. It’s “seasonal.” Yes you’ve heard that term before, but maybe not how it applies to eggs. Now before you dismiss it and think I’m crazy let me share with you a few things.

Most chickens have a dormant stage that happens in the Fall or Winter where they lay very little to no eggs. When they come out of that dormancy, it is usually Spring or close to it. All of a sudden eggs are booming! You have eggs coming out of your ears, or so it seems. Then when the weather heats up in the Summer you still have eggs, but not nearly as many as you do in the Spring. Fast forward to Fall and eggs are dwindling or maybe they’ve stopped altogether going into Winter. Do you see the pattern? Right after their dormant stage, when the weather is warming and the days are getting longer, the chickens begin to lays eggs in abundance. Coincidence? Not at all. Hence the term…..seasonal!

Sidenote: We know there are some people who use artificial lighting to try and keep their birds laying, but we do not. We don’t feel that this is in their best interest. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, we take the stance of if God created the birds to need a rest period than we are going to let them have one.

It has taken me 3 years to actually figure out this idea of eggs being seasonal, but they truly are! Just as we grow certain vegetables in certain seasons, eggs are most plentiful in Spring. Now of course eggs are available year round at your grocery store, but these are not anywhere near a fresh farm egg. Most of these birds are chicken house birds. No light, no bugs, no grass.

Please don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean that you can’t get eggs “off season” or outside of Spring because you definitely can. You just may not be able to get as many.

On our farm, we have tried to set a pattern each year of hatching new chicks in the late Spring or early Summer months. Since most chickens start laying around 6 months of age, the plan is that once the others began to slow down, we will have new ones that are just starting.

To illustrate this, in the month of May we hatched 8 chicks. These will be ready to lay sometime in November. Now whether or not they will they actually do so…..Who knows! Chickens need lots of daylight to hatch an egg and if they’re not getting it, you’re not usually getting eggs. November and December are low daylight months so it may be possible that they’re ready to lay, but the conditions they need to actually produce an egg won’t be there.

So this year when your favorite farmer or egg supplier runs out of eggs, remember eggs are seasonal and they will be back in Spring! If they do happen to have eggs, it is most likely a lower quantity.  So as mentioned above, your regular 3 dozen may turn into just 1.

Just think your farmers still have the labor and expense of feeding and taking care of the birds and they may not be getting eggs either.

If you are one of those people who are fortunate to purchase farm fresh eggs in the later months, be thankful that you don’t have to go to the grocery store and buy store bought eggs that have probably been sitting on the shelf for two months already before you spend your hard earned money on them.

An important fact is that just as people are stressed by crazy weather patterns and major changes, chickens are too!  Really our chickens have had a “rough” year between moving day with their new coops, the hawk attacks, all the rain last year, and now the extreme heat! No wonder why the hens are giving me the side eye when I go to collect eggs…I should be happy there are eggs at all!!! Lol!

Don’t worry. You guys know how spoiled these girls are. We are working hard to keep them hydrated and healthy. Their health and well being is our main concern, so we will do what we can to help them to live well and keep producing the eggs we’ve all become accustomed to.

 

 

Strange Things!

You guys know the struggle with the hawks we’ve been having here on the farm right? Well the first chicken enclosure was completed and we moved the birds into their new home as planned last weekend.

We thought we would give them a couple of days to get back to laying since they had not been doing so well with all the stress from the attacks and being on lock down. Plus they needed to get acclimated to their new environment.

I had set out their old nesting boxes, but they weren’t adhered to anything. This meant pine straw and the boxes were all over the place. It also meant empty egg shells in the coop and only a few eggs. My first thought was oh no….we have an egg eater on our hands! Then I thought well maybe they’re flipping the boxes over and cracking them then eating them. Either way, it had to stop!

I  needed a solution! Since they WERE laying, I needed to be quick about my business. It was easy to see from the colors that just about everyone was laying. So what was a chicken lady to do?

We happen to have a million, well ok not that many…. but a bunch of totes that we use around here. So I decided to use one of them to make a “temporary” nesting box. Of course I enlisted my favorite helper, Joshua and he and I set it up.

The next step was to watch. In the event that there was an egg eater, I would just keep my eye out to see who went in there when, and what the outcome was.

So throughout the day I kept checking ……

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TWO girls in the box at the same time……that’s strange. Chickens like privacy when laying and if they’re disturbed they will let you and EVERYONE else know that they don’t like it.

Well I will just give them some time……

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And I thought….wait are these two going broody? No this breed has never gone broody. I will check back later……..

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THREE hens in the box?!?! This is too much. These girls haven’t been eating their eggs. They were waiting on a nesting box so they could lay them in a safe place. All the cackling and box sharing was because there was only ONE box.

So what was the outcome?

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EGGS! Lots of them!!

That is great news and it is also good news that we have no shortage of totes!

The bad news is that I’m not sure if we will eat these eggs, sell them, or incubate them. I will have to keep you guys posted on that one.

One thing for sure is this “temporary” set up may become a permanent one! I will be making more tote boxes er um…nesting boxes tomorrow. The eggs are back and we could not be more thankful! The girls are safe. They’re comfortable and the laying season has begun.

 

 

Hawks!

After living in our house for over 3 years, we never had one single hawk attack until recently. We’re not sure, but we believe that it is just one who continues to come back looking for its next meal.

Our chicken area is under tree cover and our birds are mostly various shades of black, brown, red, etc. They pretty much blended in with their surroundings, even when the trees were bare. So we’ve never had a problem. We used to let them have use of just about the whole property, but as our organic produce offerings grew, we had to section them off.

Our first hawk attack happened on just a regular day. I looked out the window as I often do and saw a strange bird perched on the coop. I went into the kitchen and upon further inspection I instantly knew that this bird was a hawk. I then had the sad realization and sinking feeling that we probably lost some birds.

I immediately went outside to asses the damage and once I got closer the hawk turned its entire head around to stare at me. It was eerie and fascinating at the same time. It then flew into a nearby tree.

I was definitely too late. It had attacked one of our newest birds. We raised this bird from a chick, but it, along with its siblings were just integrated into the flock. This new batch of birds are mostly white with a few brown feathers here and there. We think their coloring allowed the hawk to see them as literal fresh meat. I was so sad!

Thankfully, my son came home at that exact moment and rushed out to see what happened after he heard my screams. He then put all the chickens into a caged area that we normally have at the ready for meat birds who have reached their harvest. I didn’t want to lock them up, but they were safe.

Fast forward to the second hawk attack….we were outside working  and decided to let the chickens roam. We both went inside and thought the birds would be safe for a little bit, but almost immediately there was a commotion and this time the hawk took out one of our original layers! I was just so angry! I posted up with a bebe gun at the ready to dispose of the bird the minute it came back. I didn’t know it at the time, but hawks are protected by federal law. So it was a good thing that the bird never returned.

There was one more attack, this time on a rooster. I am happy to say that he is fine, but as you can imagine to keep the birds safe they have been on lock down. If you follow our Facebook page then you’ve seen the work being done to ensure the safety of our birds. We know other farmers who free range their birds and as such thought we were safe. In actuality, it seems that we have been very fortunate to have not suffered a hawk attack before now.

We have some really good friends who raise chickens as well and they gave us some wonderful advice about how to protect our birds. Since this happened I’ve spent some time thinking about hawks and really whether it’s one or four, they’re just doing what their God given instincts tells them…..hunt and eat!

The layers were already getting a new coop. We just had to revamp it and make sure it included aerial cover. The sad thing is that they don’t like being cooped up so they’ve almost just about stopped laying eggs. They’re just not getting the sunlight they need and being in a new surrounding is stressful to them.

The good news is that our projects are nearing completion. The coops and runs are in their final stages and this means all birds will get back to what they do best. Work should be completed this weekend!  Then everyone, including us can enjoy fresh eggs again!  Well we hope……you guys know our chickens are pampered and so they may hold a slight grudge.

Education- “vegetarian fed”

We recently started an educational series on our weblog for The Market at Dothan and since we feel this information is SO important we also wanted to share it on our website. This will allow us to say what we feel is necessary for education without it being censored, changed, or edited. The statements made are our views along with FACTS taken from research and knowledge from our own experience.

Today we want to talk to you about poultry labels. Brandon and I were recently in the more upscale market in our area and we saw poultry that was listed as “vegetarian fed.” Not just any poultry, but the fancy kind with the fancy price tag. Well anyone looking at these labels may think these birds are worth the extra money. They may think they should purchase them…..BUT SHOULD THEY?!? We hope by educating you as the consumer, we are helping you to choose wisely! Not everything that looks good is! 

FACT: Chickens no matter what breed they are love to be chickens. They are omnivores and if provided with an environment that allows them to be chickens their natural instincts kick in. They are not vegetarians! They love bugs of all sorts and will actively search for them.

44FE91A4-7F48-45FC-8C1F-0749FBA06A29.jpegIn the above photo, you have our chickens digging through the compost pile.

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In these photos you have our chickens actively searching for food. So whether you’re raising hens or meat birds of all sorts, chickens will eat what they can find.

Of course we feed our chickens a 100% certified organic feed. It is verified by the Non-GMO project and keeps them healthy and strong. We buy it in bulk and make sure that they’re getting the BEST feed. Their first choice is always whatever they can find, but they love their feed and so do we! What they’re fed and how they are raised is what matters to us. We want to give them the best life so they can produce quality meat and eggs.

Next week we will continue in this series and talk to you guys about “no added hormones.”

What Makes a Better Egg?

Maybe you’ve asked yourself that question. Perhaps you’ve wondered if the organic grocery store eggs you’ve bought are really as good as the carton tells you.

Well have you ever had REAL farm fresh eggs? I’m not talking about the average eggs from the farmer who feeds their chickens whatever is the cheapest at the local feed store. I am talking about eggs from chickens who scratch, forage, and eat what God intended and nature grows. Eggs that were laid that same week or even a few days before you’ve eaten them instead of eggs that have been on the shelf for 30 days before you even take them home. Yes even those fancy expensive ones!

Now it goes without saying that all chickens need some type of feed in order to ensure they’re receiving the proper nutrients needed to stay healthy and keep producing those beautiful eggs. Even still, the type of feed matters! So it’s important for us to give our chickens the best we can find.

In addition we like to give our chickens sprouted grains and treats of black oiled sunflowers seeds, organic garden produce, and edible flowers. If we grow it and they can eat it, they’re getting it!

Year round they get oyster shells. This is what aids in keeping the egg shells hard. Chickens are so smart in this regard! They actually  decide if they need it and ONLY those who do, eat it.

During the summer months, we keep them stocked on plenty of fresh cool water, sometimes with ice. We also give them organic yogurt to help them cool off. It’s good for them AND they love it!

We take this stance across the board so they get herbs in their coop to combat flies and other pests. We spray it and sometimes them with garlic to prevent mites and lice. We give them apple cider vinegar as a natural dewormer and sprinkle diatomaceous earth in their dusting areas. We love and appreciate these birds. Since they’re a food source for us, they have to be healthy!

So what makes a better egg?

The hens diet, living conditions, and how they’re taken care of. Happy hens lay beautiful eggs that not only taste good, but are great for you!!

New Pricing!

As of June 30, 2018, we will be streamlining our direct from farm prices across the board. Some of you may have noticed this change in our pricing structure already. We initially thought that pricing our birds at a flat rate would be a better option, but with the rising cost of organic feed, we are finding the expense is too great. We believe this will be beneficial to everyone going forward. Our new direct pricing is as follows:

Whole Organic Chickens: $6/lb

Small/Medium Eggs: $4/Dozen

Large Eggs: $5/Dozen

Jumbo Eggs: $6/Dozen

18 Count Eggs: $7

30 Count Mixed Flat: $15

Chicken Livers: $5/lb

Chicken Feet: $7/lb

Chicken Gizzards and Hearts: $5/lb

Due to this pricing structure we can no longer offer our whole chicken through The Market. All whole chicken sales will be direct only.

Please call, message through our Facebook page, or email your order through our contact page.

Announcements will be made for Harvest Days and our birds can be reserved in advance.

You can continue to place orders for all our other products through our shop page:

Thank you for the support your families have given ours. We appreciate every single order, big or small. We are proud that we are able to keep our standards high and provide clean quality food for everyone and we hope to continue to do so for a long time to come.

Clean Eggs! Clean Meat!

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Did you know that chickens like to eat all sorts of things? Not only do they enjoy foraging for bugs, grubs, and garden goodies, but they also love berries, greens, and even sprouted grains.

With the arrival of warmer weather our gardens are in full swing and we have been able to put together some great treats for our birds. As usual they get their daily rations of feed, but right now our mulberry tree is in full production mode so they are enjoying fresh berries as they fall from the tree. Plus with the change over from Winter to Spring/Summer vegetables they are enjoying collards, mustards, and kale.

Last year we began toying with the idea of feeding sprouted grains to our chickens. It’s important to us that they have access to greens even when none are growing naturally during the colder months. Their feed contains organic grains such as barley, oats, and wheat, but sprouting those grains opens up all the good nutrients they would not have access to in the dry feed. It has been amazing learning how to sprout grains properly for our chickens and seeing how much they enjoy it. We like to toss it around their forage area and watch them go.

In our chicken garden we are growing clovers, dandelions, marigolds, and all sorts of things they like to eat and are good for them. We are dependent on them as a clean source of eggs and meat, so it’s important that they’re healthy and eat well. We know they appreciate it and we’re sure all of you do too!

Whoa!!

BREAKING NEWS!!! We went to the box this morning…well hubby did. You know now that I think about it, he found the very first egg, the first blue egg, and now he has found the BIGGEST egg we’ve ever gotten. I really don’t know how this keeps happening, but it does. Ok onto the point….do you see the size of this egg? The green egg next to it in the hand photo is large borderline jumbo and this one is just well I don’t even know what to call it. I wish I knew who laid this egg so I can give that hen a hug, a high five, AND a pat on the back for all her hard work. Not too worry though…….I checked and everyone is fine.

Color Surprises

We have over 40 heritage breed hens. From Rhode Island Reds to Black Copper Marans, with a Golden Laced Wyandotte in the middle. I could continue, but you get the point. With all of the different breeds we have a beautiful array of egg shell colors. We actually purchase specific breeds of chickens based on their bloodlines and their God given abilities to produce certain colors.

The question that we often get is “Do chickens really lay green and blue eggs?” Yes they do! When it comes to egg shell colors, it really all depends on the genetics of the hen. For example an all white bird, like the commercially used White Leghorns, produce white or off white eggs. While a darker breed, like our Reds will lay a brown egg. The bluish green one pictured above and the solid olive one were produced by a Cream Legbar and an Olive Egger. We are planning to add more of these hens to our flock this year through breeding.

We always try to keep a good color variety. We find these eggs are especially popular with parents who have young children. Of course you can always get a solid brown carton too.

With the warmer days, the hens are increasing their eggs daily. So grab yours today!