The Story Behind our Farm Fresh Eggs
A few weeks ago, a friend called us and asked a favour: would we mind taking some chickens off his hands? Apparently his 23 laying hens were not compatible with his new truck-driving lifestyle, and a new home was needed quickly.
We were hesitant at first. Although our 52-acre property has lots of room for the birds, we aren't exactly agricultural here: 95% of our land is forested and rocky. But the lure of agricultural self-sufficiency has been affecting our plans lately. We have recently begun to appreciate the value of growing our own food: in the spring of 2012 we planted our first vegetable garden, using some imported horse manure to supplement our poor soil. Also in 2012, we processed into wine some lovely wild grapes growing freely along the roadsides. But chickens? That's a bigger commitment, both in initial investment, and more importantly, ongoing labour and maintenance.
What would you do? We hummed and hawed, and decided to take the plunge. For two weeks, we were busy building a coop. It was built modular-style, in our shop, to avoid a particularly rainy late September. The foundation was worked on whenever the skies cleared for a few hours. In early October, the components were assembled on the railway ties, and gave them a nice coat of grey-green paint. We think the enclosed outdoor run will keep the feet of those pampered fowl a little drier in the wet fall weather. Have a look:
The ongoing labour issue will hopefully be solved by our three children, who have agreed under mild duress to assume the daily duties of cleaning, feeding and watering the birds, as well as harvesting those precious eggs. For now there is sufficient enthusiasm on their part to get the jobs done without prodding. They even set their alarms a half-hour early on schooldays for the morning chores. We will keep you informed as to the status of this arrangement in future updates.
Hopefully the coop and run will be critter-proof: we have a host of predators wandering the bush up here, with chicken on their minds. Here is a partial list of these undesirables we have to keep out: black bears, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, fishers, martens, weasels, neighbourhood dogs (including Zee), cats, snapping turtles (yes, snapping turtles!) skunks, owls, and hawks. Small wonder that chicken is the world's most popular meat...
Another chicken lover, the human, gets a special treat when he or she comes to the Evergreen Forest Resort. We are now harvesting farm-fresh eggs every day, and they're included in our breakfast menu. What a difference it makes when fresh eggs are used, instead of those ancient supermarket cooler veterans. Our eggs have a more distinctly orange-coloured yolk, stand up higher in the frying pan, and deliver a firmer taste, too, whether served on their own or in our delicious pancakes.
If you'd like to buy some to take some home after your stay, just let us know; we always have a dozen or two just for our guests. When you're back home, their lovely fresh taste will remind you of your stay with us!