How ya doin'?, 

The Countdown to Summer is on! 

There are only 5 weeks left till our Summer Season begins on June 3rd! To celebrate the Countdown, we're sending out a little farming story each week till June finally arrives-- we can't wait to see you at the truck real soon!

We do still have openings for this Summer's share-- don't forget to reserve your spot today!  And please pass this on to friends. Be sure to check out our website for all the good information and to register. 

The quick run-down if you are new to Fresh Fork Market:  We are a weekly grocery subscription to local farms.  We call it a Farm Buying Club. Each week from June through October, our subscribers receive a fresh "grab bag" of local provisions, including fruits and vegetables, meats, cheese, eggs, grains, and more.  Omnivore, Vegetarian, and Vegan dietary plans are available and packages are either $25 per week (small) or $40 per week (large).  You pick the groceries up from one of our refrigerated box trucks at over 20 different area pickup locations.  
 
5 Eggs per Week per Chicken
 
An Egg a Day is the Laying Way. 

In an ideal world, each of our laying hens lays 1 egg per day. But the best laid plans (and eggs) can sometimes go astray. 

Sometimes the eggs are lost or damaged, or maybe the hens just aren't up to it. So for our production estimates, we count on 5 eggs per week per hen-- give em the weekend off their count.  For most commercial egg operations, this would be unacceptably low, but as you probably could guess by now, we are more concerned about the quality of the egg than the quantity.

"Pasture Raised" vs. "Free Range"


I'm often asked if the hens are "Free Range."  I say Yes and No.  Yes in the sense that they are certainly free range, but No in the sense that the term "Free Range" doesn't say enough.

"Free range" is not a regulated term by any government agency or even industry group. It's pretty vague in meaning but carries a lot of marketing weight. In the most basic sense, it means that the laying hens are not caged up and they are free to roam. This does not specify that they are roaming outside. Often, free range eggs are from hens that are in large barns with access to go outside for a portion of the day. Some groups more accurately call this "open yarding," which in my opinion more accurately reflects that there is a yard next to the barn to which the chickens have access.

My problem with that model is that chickens won't go very far from their home and where the food source is. Further, because the barn is a stationary structure, the area where the birds have access to around the barn is likely pretty well pecked over. There is likely no grass or fresh grub; instead, it is often a concrete slab or a dusty piece of ground. Sure the birds get outside, but they aren't really getting a benefit of eating on pasture.

 

A "Special Treat" Only a Chicken Would Appreciate. 


Our birds are "Pasture Raised," which means they live outside on green pastures all the live-long day. And on that pasture, they provide another invaluable service: these ladies clean up after the other grazers.  

 

In a good pasture program, one of the farmer's main concerns is controlling parasites, such as tapeworms, that could infect grazers like sheep and beef. These hens are rotated onto the pasture where the beef were recently grazing, and they dig in. The birds get exercise walking around, scratching and pecking at the ground to find seeds, insects, and green grass. They have mobile coops that allow them to be moved to fresh pasture as needed.

 


 

Teachable moments: take em where you find em.


This "Clean Up" job of a laying hen is my favorite discussion to have with elementary school kids - they like it because we get to talk about poop.


 

The cattle leave behind large piles of dung - cow patties - which become home to fly larvae. The hens come through and break the cow patties apart by pecking and scratching at them to get the larvae out.  This reduces the insect population on the farm and essentially sterilizes the pasture.  Further, by breaking the cow pies into smaller pieces, they are more easily dissolved by the rains and dung beetles that take the nitrogen rich manure back into the soil. This and the chicken manure fertilize the pasture to create healthier grasses for the cattle to graze on next time they are rotated into that paddock.


 

The sunny-side up of over-easy, soft-boiled goodness. 


We know you guys love these eggs, and we know why: they taste so flippin' good. The rich golden yolk is filled with good-for-you Omega 3s, vitamin E, vitamin D, and many more goodies (especially compared to "regular" eggs.)   

 

This is an age old Chicken & the Egg question, but not the one typically asked. Instead, we know what questions come first: how does she eat, what does she like, how can we help her live a happier, less stressed life? How can we provide her with better access to better food and make the optimal laying conditions? The one question we're not asking-- how can we get her to produce beyond her means. To us, 1 per day is okay. Better than okay: it's delicious.

 


You know what else is 5 weeks away? 
Our Summer Season! 
Click here to learn more & to sign up. 
Please pass this along to friends & family! 


HAVE MORE QUESTIONS?

We'd love to hear from you. Drop us a line anytime! Call us at 
(800)861-8582


Or send us an email.



LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR FARMERS 

Read our 2015 Almanac here and spread it to your friends and family!





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