On Sunday morning, Brian and I got the first taste of the fruits of our labors – two small, perfect, super-fresh, homegrown eggs-over-easy. In the pic, I am also cooking two egg mcmuffins for us, hence the sausage patties and large eggs that are cooking in the rings. For comparison, the eggs in the rings are barred rock eggs from Persephone Farms in Oregon (from the Portland Farmers’ Market). It might not be so clear in this pic, but those two eggs are much larger and also, the yolks are not so covered in white as Lady B’s eggs because I have had them in my fridge for a couple of weeks now. Whites stick to the yolks and the yolks stand high in very fresh eggs… the whites separate and the yolks lose their loft with time. They are still perfectly wonderful to eat… it is just an indicator of freshness, and the two small eggs from Lady B are one and two days old in the picture. Both sets of eggs have wonderful, richly-colored yolks because both sets of chickens have great lives and access to sunlight, organic feed, and free-ranging time on grass and bugs. It probably would have been better to get a shot of our eggs with regular store-bought factory-farmed eggs, but I refuse to give my money to such an industry.
The dark spots on the cooked egg are ground pepper and little bit of browning from cooking in butter. As you can see, the yolk had a nice, rich color and was wonderfully tasty to boot! We each ate one. Now, to be perfectly honest, I have had eggs with darker orange yolks. These were from chickens that spend all day, everyday on grass. This is admittedly ideal. However, it is impossible in my situation. My neighbor in California who keeps his chickens this way loses chickens constantly to predators. I just don’t have that many to lose. Thus, I need to protect mine in a coop and secure outdoor run most of the time, while trying to give them as much free-range time on the grass as possible. Anyway, our eggs were gloriously yummy and we look forward to many, many more!
Egg Review and Report From Sunday and Monday
As a review, Brian checked Friday morning – no eggs. The very first egg ever was found by Brian Friday afternoon around 4:30pm. It was a tiny mint-green egg in the top-left nesting box. He checked again Saturday morning – no eggs. I got home that evening and checked right around 9pm and found egg #2, another tiny mint-green egg in the top-left nesting box. You know all this. Sunday held no new eggs for us. Then, Monday morning, I found a third tiny mint-green egg in the top-left nesting box. Hmmm…. I’m sensing a pattern. For those of you who are counting, that’s three eggs in four days… all most likely from the same chicken.
Photographic Evidence of My Detective Skills: Caught in the Act
This morning, when I went out to check the chickies, I found this:
I WIN I WIN I WIN!!!! I KNEW it was her all along, and now I’ve got proof! This was her in the top-left nesting box, the same one where all of the little mint-green eggs have been laid. I never had any doubts. Need a mystery solved? I can now add detective to my many titles, along with prognosticator :)
Oh yeah… and I should mention that at the same time, I saw this:
Now, this is not to say that anything was a sure thing… I mean… I have seen many of the ladies in and out of the nest boxes in recent weeks. But, there was something about the look on her face that told me something special might be happening. So, I impatiently went back inside for about a half an hour.
And when I returned:
We now officially have TWO laying hens. HOW EGG-CITING IS THAT?? (thanks to a commentor for the great cheesy chicken-esque word :) )
The Marans egg is a very lovely color and it couldn’t be more perfect – smooth, clean, oval, and blemish-free… so far we’re two for two on slam-dunk first efforts from my girls!
The sunlight really shows off the color nicely. On Sunday, I took a picture of our four breakfast eggs in the sun before cooking them for color and size comparison. Keep in mind this next pic is of eggs #1 & #2 and two barred rock eggs from the farmers’ market.
I wanted to show you this pic because I think it shows the green the best of any shot I’ve taken. Also, if you compare this shot to the one above, you can se the difference in the brown tones of the Marans egg as compared to the barred rock eggs. And I know that the green one in the top shot looks different from the other two, but it’s just the light. I kept the shells from Sunday and compared them to the ones from Monday and today and they are all of an identical color. I didn’t think to get a shot of the Marans egg and Barred Rocks eggs together in the sunlight and now it’s dark. I’ll try to remember tomorrow or at least soon :)
In summary, for those of you who are counting, that’s four eggs in five days from Lady B! Overachiever indeed!! And it’s a total of 5 eggs for us altogether so far. I am adding an egg counter on my sidebar so that we can keep a running total of egg counts.
This is a rose that popped up out of the weeds at the base of our fence last year, once I started watering it. It started as a 2-inch-high, scrubby, spiky, tangled mass that looked for all the world like a weed. But, once it got some summer water (I was growing veggies next to it so it got watered more or less by accident), it quickly started growing into a rose plant. By early fall, it was maybe 18-24 inches high and it made a few pretty, miniature, fragrant, pale pink blooms. It seemed like it could be pleasant enough so I left it there. It went dormant over the winter, of course, and then it took advantage of the nitrogen fixed there in the previous season by my runner beans and sugar snap peas, and it burst forth with renewed vigor this spring. Now it is nearly three feet tall and it is covered in fairly large, coral-colored, non-fragrant blossoms and buds. Roses are amazing. It’s like it’s a different plant all together. Anyway, I really liked the frangrance, but beggars can’t be choosers and it’s a lovely rose that is growing up my utilitarian fence for free. Pretty cool in my book!
As promised, I ripped out the healthy but bland-fruited Aromas strawberry plants and am cautiously letting my Hoods send out runners to fill the space. I am trying very hard to police them as they’ve already tried to climb out of their box and into the next one. Roses and strawberries are in the same family of hardy, prolific plants… which is quite clear.
And my Mara des Bois strawberry plants are quite fruitful, though I have to admit they have me a bit baffled this year. Last year, every single one we ate (whic was, admittedly, about 15 berries total over several weeks) was the most sublimely-flavored fruit I’d ever eaten. This is their reputation, and they lived up to it. This year, however, the Spring crop has been odd. I have picked cups of berries at a time, and when we have eaten them, we have found that one will be completely flavorless and sour, and the next is marvlous, perfumed, and candy-sweet. I have absolutly no clue why. I have picked them earlier (lighter red, firm), later (darker red, soft), and off of all of the plants in all of my pots. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the discrepancies. Wierd.
::mole note:: I know I brought up my issue with moles and then I never followed through with it. Admittedly, I have been very busy and I have not blogged about as much as I’d have liked to in general. However, with the mole issue, it’s just that I don’t really have any pictures to show. That day when I made the quick mole post, I found that a mole had gone through my 25′ row of sweet peas planted along our fence, five of my newly planted baby roses, and the entire 40′ row of raspberries. After my initial blind rage subsided, I decided to learn more about the little fellas. You see, I’m from California, and the big underground rodent threat there is the pocket gopher. And, initially when I moved here, I assumed the mounds of dirt I saw on everyone’s lawns and fields were gopher mounds. However, I have learned that there are no gophers here – only moles. We have moles in California, but they are not the major nuisance, so I knew little about them.
Turns out that they are entirely insectivorous – they love earthworms – and the damage they do to crops is just an accidental by-product. You see, they love soft, freshly-dug earth because it’s easier to make their ways through it when tunneling for bugs. The damage they do is that they dig up young plants and leave big air spaces around their roots, allowing them to dry out and often die. In this way, I have lost most of my beloved sweetpeas. wah :( but the raspberries have made it through OK, and only one or two of the young roses are looking iffy. So all in all, it’s not the end of the world. Gophers are MUCH worse. They eat your plants from the roots up – they especially love vegetables and beautiful flowers. Also, I dealt with ground squirrels in CA in my recent years at the ranch in CA. They are the kings of crop destruction – first they just take bites out of your fruits and veggies, but as the hot, dry season wears on, they move into your garden beds, make nests, and eat your ENTIRE plants, fruit, leaves, stems, roots, EVERYTHING. Total devastation. So, the moral of the story is that I can live with moles, at least I think. Compared to my rodent troubles in the past, they seem like a walk in the park!
As for my veggies, my red and green cabbages are now going like gang busters and looking beautiful. The red cabezas are particularly stunning – lovely dusty blue-green leaves with bright purple veining.
Also, some of my stuck-in-miniature plants have suddenly decided to grow. My chard that was about 3/4 inch tall for nearly 3 months suddenly started growing and now I have beautiful young chard that is ready for eating at any time.
And my tomatoes are growing just fine now, after being stuck at 2-inches high and dropping leaves for 4 months. Now it’s like none of that happened and they are happy, healthy young-looking (though they aren’t really so young) tomato plants. I know they are behind most people’s plants at this point, but still I think they’re going to be fine. SO strange they way this has all been going…
I was also going to show you a pic of my pea plants loaded with bursting pods, but I figure you’ve had enough pea pics from me. I just can’t really help it – they’ve been my best crop this year by a mile and they’re still going strong!
Instead of peas, I’ll leave you with this: holy cow we’re going to get a lot of wild blackberries!