Winter is a rest period for the entire farm, including our flock of chickens. White Oak currently has around 22 chickens, after losing one to a fox in mid-December. Winter brings on a rest period for the hens as well, and they molt and stop laying with the colder temperatures. We do have a few cold-hardy birds, but the nights have been chilly here recently and even they are taking a break. A warmer roosting place would keep them laying all year, but the cold weather rest increases the life span of the flock. Things probably even out, and someday we may build them a more solid roosting place, but for now, like so many other things we produce here at the farm, if we want eggs we have to buy them at the store. Where we can, we buy free range and organic, but even with those certifications we notice a distinct difference in the quality of the eggs. They are nothing like the ones our hens produce.
Once we had the opportunity to crack both an egg from one of our hens and a store bought free range organic egg into the same bowl, and we were astounded by the difference. The White Oak yolk was a rich orange and it stood up beautifully, the store bought egg literally paled in comparison. Even in winter, the egg from our hen was more robust and far tastier than the best egg you can get from a shelf. That vibrant color translates to a more nutritious egg that is wonderful to cook with and to eat. It gets its color from the greens consumed by the chickens while they roam, supplemented by nutrition from insects and the food scraps we feed them. See for yourself below, our egg is the one on the left.
This time of year we always long for these eggs. Our breakfasts, quiches, and baked goods just aren’t the same without them. Each year we are reminded of the cycle we are a part of by the seasonal abundance or scarcity of foods like these eggs.