The summer of 2015 was long & hot & dry. It was a demanding season to be a farmer in the Pacific Northwest. We were challenged at every turn by the relentless weather and the cavalcade of effects it had on the farm and it’s farmers. We also welcomed a major change into our lives in the form of my husbands retirement from a lifelong career. But in the end we simply rejoiced everyday in the beauty of this place.
Life at its finest- Change… Adapt… Rejoice
Let me start by saying- Condolences to all of you who have had, and in some cases are still having, a brutal Winter. Here in the Pacific Northwest, 2015 was the Winter that never was. It feels like Spring & has for awhile now. Though the calendar, and experience, says not quite yet. Restraint. There is a palpable stirring of life on the farm. Sweet scents in the air, a pop of color here and there. An awakening. Come take a walk-about the farm with me… Eye candy for you beleaguered sufferers of Winter.
It has been a very mild winter in our corner of the Pacific Northwest this year. No snow. Rain & wind events, fog that sometimes lingered for the entire day, and glorious revitalizing sun. Always enough variation to keep it interesting. Even in the starkness of a winter landscape there is beauty to be found. This is where we live and what we have been up to this winter of 2015. Enjoy the meanderings…
Autumn/November is a point of transition. A bridge between summer and winter, an occasion of stark contrasts. A time of rest and busyness, low sun and long shadow, harsh rains and soft mists, grayness and brilliant color. The farm and its inhabitants active with both summer cleanup and winter preparation. The first frost is near and winter is not far behind.
Enjoy this photo tour of late November at FullCircle Farm.
July is a voraciously busy month on the farm. It is a month where you are straddling multiple seasons- in the throes of Summer, prepping for Fall and planning for Winter. The days are getting shorter, the angle of the sun is changing, the harvest is reaching its peak and the farmer always seems to be in perpetual motion. One foot in front of the other, one chore after another, moving forward, feeling behind.
Our July has been exceptionally busy here at FullCircle Farm- gardening, weeding, watering, harvesting, cultivating, seeding, transplanting, thinning, trellising, mowing, composting, feeding, haying, watering, rotating, hoop coop moving, slaughtering, processing, breeding, brooding, hive inspecting, supering, canning, freezing, drying, pickling, jam making, equipment repairing, equipment building, tree cutting, limb chipping, wood stacking, sales & marketing, helping, laughing, loving, eating and sleeping well.
Even as overflowing as this July has been it has purpose and reason. It feels right, It feels good. It is where I belong.
The new flock of hennies is laying prolifically. The girls are producing more eggs than our family and returning customers can handle. What a problem to have… an excess of gorgeous Fresh Organic Eggs!
The dilemma is finding a way to handle the excess eggs until a network of new customers come onboard. The solution, I hope, is to freeze the eggs for later use when production drops off later in the year. I did a WEB search and found this link @ the National Center for Home Food Preservation, http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/freeze/eggs.html and thought I would give it a try.
I decided the best use for frozen eggs at our house would be in baking so I followed that set of instructions. Very straightforward, a little messy, & quick.
A Tutorial: How to Freeze Fabulous, Farm Fresh Organic Eggs!!!
1. Select 1 dozen fresh eggs.
2. Break eggs into a clean container.
3. Break yolks with a fork and add to 2 cups of eggs either-
3 Tablespoons OG sugar- if using for Baking -OR-
1 teaspoon OG salt- if using for Cooking.
Mix whites, yolks & either the sugar or salt lightly together. Do Not Whip.
4. Pour into an ice cube tray & freeze until solid.
5. Remove the egg cubes from the ice cube trays.
6. Place egg cubes in a marked Zip-Loc bag & freeze for later use.
1. farm fresh eggs.
2. break into container
3. add sugar and mix
4. pour into ice cube tray
5. egg cubes
6. egg cubes in a bag
I found that 1 dozen Medium/Large eggs = 2 cups of mixed eggs = 1 ice cube tray.
2 egg cubes = 1 large/extra large egg.
So… the time is here, Spring is near, the hens are laying fabulous farm fresh eggs just for you! Support your local farmers and purchase some today and enjoy the wonders of a truly fresh egg.
We have had a very long dry spell here where our farm fresh eggs have been missing from our and our customer’s tables. To hear the whole story read my blog post titled SURPRISE! from earlier this year, that explains how we got into this horrible predicament.
My new batch of hennies, who have been giving us perfect beautiful little jewels for several months now, suddenly believe that Spring is close enough to ramp up their egg production, a lot! I love this because it means that Spring is nearer, days are longer and warmer, and we once again have eggs for sale!
An introduction is in order. We raise a small flock, 17 hens to be exact, on our small farm. They are a mix of breeds, which include, New Hampshire Reds, Black Australorps, Ameraucanas, Black Star, Delaware and Cuckoo Marans. Some breeds are old favorites some are new to us this year. They lay eggs of all shades of brown as well as blue, green and olive. As of now most of the eggs are medium in size with a few larges thrown in. As the hens mature the egg size will increase to Large and Extra Large and even some Jumbos. Each hen has a name; Dot, Polly, Dolly, Addie, Agnes, Betty, Ruby, Fran, and Fancy just to name a few. They are a loud raucous bunch, cackle, cackle, cackle!
The hens have a clean house where they safely spend the night, with feed and water, bedding, roosts, and nests to lay their eggs. The have a fenced outdoor pen that protects them from predators during the day. Each day they are turned out to graze in either the garden or the yard, a place where they can gobble up greens and bugs and worms, scratch and dust to their hearts content. We feed an Organic Layer feed made by a mill in Southern Oregon from Organic grain sourced in Oregon. A little Organic scratch grain is also fed as a treat. The hens also receive daily goodies from the garden, orchard, barn and kitchen.
There are so many labels on egg cartons these days it makes your head spin, especially when the reality of those label claims may not exactly be the picture that pops into your head when you read the label. Our hens are Cage-Free, no cages anywhere. They are Free-Range, they roam outside in the sun, chase bugs, and scratch in the dirt. They are Pasture Raised, have access to fresh greens any day that is nice enough to go outside. Their eggs are Organic, having been fed only Organic feeds from day one, which also means No Antibiotics, Hormones or GMO’s. They are also Local, Farm Fresh, Humanely Treated and Hand Gathered. There are a copious amount of claims made on egg carton labels but with our eggs they are true and as for that idyllic picture that pops into your head, it is accurate. The only label that I cannot claim is Vegetarian Fed. Our hens are Omnivores and do eat bugs, and worms and other protein rich chicken yummies.
So that is the story in an egg shell. High quality, tasty and nutritious, Farm Fresh Organic Eggs. $6.00 a dozen both now and when they reach the Extra Large/Jumbo stage.
I have several openings available for regular weekly egg customers.
Perfect beautiful little jewels. We have awaited this day for months.
Back in May of 2013 my lovely flock of ladies, each with a name, contracted a respiratory disease brought in by several seemingly healthy new pullets I had purchased. Even though I had quarantined the newcomers for at least 4 weeks my flock still fell victim to this bacterial infection. I started hearing sneezing, and noticed the hen house had an odd smell, I knew something was wrong. The sneezing was followed by foamy eyes, wheezing, & weakness. Hen after hen came down with the symptoms. I removed the visibly sick to a different pen. It continued to spread, though some hens seemed completely fine. I did a lot of research and determined that the new pullets must have brought in Infectious Bronchitis. Those who had symptoms were not likely to survive, those without symptoms would be lifelong carriers of the disease and infect any new birds. We had already slaughtered the sickest birds but now knew what we must do. The decision was made to slaughter the entire flock, 24 beautiful hens. A horrible day, a horrible waste. The house & pen were cleaned, opened up to the sun and natures elements. For 6 months I let it sit empty, more than enough time to ensure the disease organisms had died. We missed the hens and the enjoyment they brought to the farm. Their antics, their individual personalities, the pest control, compost & yes those beautiful eggs.
In September of 2013 I purchased a mixed variety of 18 vaccinated day old layer chicks from Murray McMurray hatchery to restart our flock. They were brooded and raised in a chicken tractor that was moved daily across the yard. They grew into healthy young pullets and then were moved into the now disease free hen house. And then yesterday those pullets, each with a name, became hens. A new healthy laying flock, full of comedic antics, individual personalities and yes those beautiful eggs!
In nearly 30 years of raising chickens we hadn’t ever experienced anything like this. I now possess some very hard earned knowledge and am a better flockswoman for it.