Sunday, February 14, 2010

The best eggs in the world...

...or at least the best we can get our hands on, come from a small farm in southcentral New Jersey, River Birch Micro-Farm, where a flock of hens live their happy life in a chicken tractor and lay 'pasture eggs'. The farmer, who is also a professor, is doing some really interesting research on small-scale farming and especially chicken tractors (read more here if you like on page 43). A chicken tractor is a very neat contraption where the chickens live in a henhouse and movable pen on wheels, so you can move the chickens around in your yard every day while they are still protected against foxes and coyotes. This chicken tractor has about 35 chickens and they have a very happy life picking at whatever flies by or tries to grow up from the ground.

Recently a peacock showed up to join them, and even if the chickens were first a bit apprehensive, the next night the peacock slept next to the chickens (albeit with a wire fence between them). Unfortunately the dog chased it off a few days later. Anyway, these eggs... they taste fantastic, like EGGS, and the yolks are the most yellow you can imagine. You whip up an omelet and at first you are thinking 'wow, it is so yellow, why?', but then you realize that these are chickens that are outside, picking on leaves and bugs and worms, and get a billion more vitamins and betacarotens than the poor chickens that provide store-bought eggs in chicken egg factories on an egg assembly line. If you can get local, free-range chicken from a farmer you know, do it! It will cost you a bit more, but the quality is really a lot better and worth it. Here are some photos and quotes from our 'eggman', courtesy of Dr. Joseph Heckman.
"Peacock likes it here on the farm. When I went out this morning it was sleeping next to the chicken pen with its head under its wing."
"My daughter came out with me this morning not wearing gloves. Very cleverly, she asked get me some warm eggs (body temp, just laid) to hold as hand warmers."
"A photo showing color contrast of a grocery store bought conventional egg (light yellow yolk, bottom) and an egg (orange yolk, top) from my pastured chickens. The color contrast is noticeable even in winter. The difference would be even more remarkable with the hens on spring grass."


weatheresearch said...

I recognize these eggs!

I've eaten them, along with other food fresh from Dr. Heckman's Micro-Farm, numerous times. I didn't even eat that much at a meal but each time I did, I noticed that the next day at home I ate less food than I might normally eat. The only explanation I have is that the eggs, asparagus, nuts, cabbage, lettuce and strawberries were so packed with nutrients that I was nourished into the next day!

Looking forward to more!
Tom D.

LS said...

Thanks or your comment on the blog Tom. I haven't had their other produce except for the pawpaws, persimmons and black walnuts, all of which are great.

Real said...

You are right. There is absolutely no comparing factory eggs to the real deal. Once in a while (usually just poor planning) we run out of REAL eggs and run to the stupidmarket for some of the tasteless white ones. What a let down.

We also have a little experience with the chicken tractor. Where we are the dogs do a great job keeping the predators at bay. It looks to be the same where these pics were taken. I have heard the horror stories of folks coming out in the AM to find their tractors a bloody mess. Great post.

AnS said...

It is fantastic to get such an egg. I visit my neighbour farmer yesterday and they gave me some eggs which came direkt from the hens. What a taste, but they wasn't so orange like yours. The hens live in the stable among the horses.

Sarah said...

I remember those eggs! I never paid attention to the color but to the body - look how much more they stand up. They make the best baked goods and the best mayonnaise.

Mr. Lebo said...

Eggs may be quite cheap here in Madagascar, but when next we call the Garden State home, we will certainly be cracking some of these yellow lovelies into our custards.

LS said...

Thanks for all the comments everybody. I heard from our egg supplier that with all this snow the chickens have moved indoors into the barn termporarily. We got several more inches of snow overnight, so now it looks like a winter wonderland outside again, here in NJ.