In the past few weeks one of the biggest news stories was about yet another food recall, this time eggs. People in the US were getting sick with salmonella from contaminated eggs. What shocked me was the number of eggs being recalled, half a billion as of August 23, 2010.
I’ve mentioned before that I get pastured eggs and sometimes whole chickens from a local farmer. While this doesn’t protect me from ever getting sick from food, it certainly does help. Chickens are less likely to get sick when they have more room, access to outdoors, proper diet (including bugs!) and no stress. These chickens are also not given antibiotics in their feed, and so are not contributing to breeding super-salmonella resistant to treatment.
I wanted to share in pictures what this farm looks like. It’s a pretty small farm, with just about 20 chickens, some ducks, a few cats and a dog. I visited a few weeks ago to pick up some eggs and snap some photos. It was like visiting a little piece of heaven!
Here’s the chicken coop.
It used to be a barn for horses. In one of the stalls is the chicken feed.
They made some nesting boxes out of wood for the hens to lay in. One hen was in there while I visited. She moved aside for them to take the egg and then she hopped down to get a snack.
In behind the barn is a fenced-in secure area. The chicks they raised for meat stayed in this area mostly, but the hens can run around in there too.
The hens are also free to run around the property. This is not fenced in at all, the chickens just know to come back to the barn at night for safety and food. When the farmer cuts the lawn, the chickens run along behind him eating all the bugs that come up with the turned grass.
The chickens are given a natural feed but in the summer they tend to eat less of it, since they’re scratching around outside eating bugs.
If you stand around long enough, all the animals come close for a visit.
The ducks have a little kiddy pool to float around in too. I couldn’t get a picture of them in there without another animal popping into view! It’s so cute how they all hang out.
This farm just seemed so peaceful.
And here’s what I came home with, a dozen dozen fresh eggs.
I know not everyone can find an egg farmer as perfect as this one, but it’s worth trying to find one that uses good farming practices. I found this farmer by posting a wanted ad on an online classifieds site. I had been getting pastured eggs from a vendor at the farmer’s market in the summer, but found that they couldn’t supply me with enough and I would resort to buying expensive eggs from the store. So I just posted up an ad and within a couple days I had three local egg farmers to choose from. Since then I’ve found other food sources through online classifieds sites. It makes sense that there are a lot of farmers on these sites, as they are often looking to buy or share equipment and animals. I highly suggest using these kinds of resources to find good local food.
These eggs cost me $3.50 a dozen and have gorgeous deep orange yolks full of flavor. It’s over $6.00 a dozen for organic cage-free eggs from the store, but anytime I have to buy those we end up complaining about the lack of taste. Nothing compares to fresh pastured eggs from a small farm where the chickens can roam around and eat whatever they want.