As spring approaches so does egg season. Spring time is a time of egg abundance. All of our birds go into egg-laying mode eager to hatch a clutch of eggs. This process is set into motion by the longer days and warmer temps. Believe it or not but the ideal temperature for chickens to lay eggs is 55 degrees. In factory farms chickens are subjected to artificial light. Their length of "day" never changes. It may seem like that would be harmless but it actual is very hard on them and even shortens their life. God created them to slow down in the winter months to give their bodies a break. In the fall they molt (loose their feathers and grow in new ones) and this takes a lot of energy as well as all the egg laying they did for the previous six months. As the days get shorter in the fall, the egg laying process slows down. They may not lay at all when molting. At it's peak it is anywhere from a 40 -60% reduction. Then comes spring and production picks up again. They have recovered from molting and regained their energy stores and are ready to go for a new season.
Chickens tend to lay more egg a year than any other bird and that is what most people eat. However there are many other kinds of tasty eggs to eat. Here on the farm we eat chicken, duck, turkey, guinea, and goose eggs. The duck, turkey, guinea and goose eggs tend to be a little bit richer. Although all our bird forage and eat pasture, some birds are naturally more apt to a grass based diet. Ducks and especially geese, for example will always consume more grass than chickens. Pasture/forage can at the most only make up for 20% of a chicken's diet. To meet their dietary need the rest has to come from proteins (insect and grains), and grains. The greens are what makes for the richer flavor so even though free range and pasture ranged chicken eggs will be richer than confined chicken eggs, duck and geese, for example will still have even richer egg because a larger portion of their diet can from pasture.
Of course the most notable difference to the eye is the size. This goose egg weighs 6 1/2 oz. A large chicken egg weighs 2 1/2 oz. One goose egg is equivalent to 3-4 chicken eggs.
This egg will fill your belly no doubt. Look at the size of that yoke! A healthy Black Australorp chicken will lay about 220-250 eggs a year. A Pilgrim goose, the kind we have, on the other hand will lay 35-45 eggs a year. Better enjoy them while you can. They only come in the spring and early summer.
If you ever get the opportunity to try duck, turkey or goose egg then don't be shy. They are very tasty and highly nutritious. If you live in this neighborhood of the prairie then you can try some of ours. We have a limited availability in the spring and early summer. Just give us a call and and we will let you know what we have available.
Happy, healthy, clean eating,
Do you grow onions from seeds or do you use onions sets? Onions sets give you a jump start but for just a little more work you can grow onions from seed and greatly broaden the variety which you are able to grow.
At Rolling Hills Farm we always looks for heirloom varieties for our gardens. This year we are growing:
Stuttgarter- This is a medium sized yellow onion with a strong onion flavor. It produces well and stores well too. If you grow enough, and store them properly, they will last you until the following spring without going bad.
Alisa Craig- A large (it can get up to 5lbs) globe onion that was introduced in 1887. It came from the gardener of Marquis of Alisa at Culzean Castle in Maybole, South Ayrshire, Scotland. The gardener, David Murray, must have been pretty pleased with these great onions.
Southport White Globe- This little onion has quite the history. It was developed and grown in Southport Connecticut along the Mill river. From here, the then "onion capital", it was exported by the millions. These onions became very important during the Civil war when they were pickled and used to keep scurvy away. It was considered the "best white onion for market" by Seedsman Thomas Griswold.
Southport Purple Globe- As the name states, the red version of the Southport onion. It was released in 1873.
All of these onions are considered to be long day type onions. This means they need long days to grow properly. If you live in the north this is what you want. As you move south, you will want a short day variety. Always very important to consider when picking out which onions you are going to grow.
We also grow multiplier onions. Multiplier onions are planted in the fall and harvested in mid to late summer. You plant one onion in the fall and it grows into as much as 10 or 12 by harvest.
You can learn more about them and how we harvest them here.
Onions require a long growing season to reach full maturity so they are typically started in early February here in ND. It only takes a few weeks for them to become long and tangled. The onions in the picture below are 5 plus inches long. Time for a hair cut!
Trimming onions is very simple. All you need to do is cut them back to about 1 1/2 in tall. That's it and you can eat all the trimmings. Rinse them off and use them like chives. They go great in quiche. You might want to try this quiche recipe.
When you are all done with the hair cut your onions should look like they had a little mini lawn mower go over them. You will be amazed at how quickly they grow back. When they start to get long and tangled again give them another hair cut. You will want to to this several times. Each time you trim back the greens it forces the plants to put more energy into their roots and that is makes for more vigorous, and larger onions.
If you are a gardener and you haven't tried growing onions from seeds before then don't be afraid to try. If you don't have the space or time then sign up for our CSA and you can still enjoy heirloom onions varieties ( as well as all the other heirloom vegetables that we grow!).
Happy, healthy, clean eating,
Hello, I'm Jaci. I love gardening and being outside in God's amazing creation. I'm passionate about whole foods and clean eating. I look forward to sharing my farming adventures and helping you reach your gardening goals!