Friday, April 03, 2009

pullet eggs

Before we start talking about the farm, here's a survey (and this does concern food). Last night I watched a 1943 Betty Davis/Millie Drake flick, Old Acquaintances. Early in the movie, Drake's put upon husband answers her nagging question that 'I couldn't get the hen eggs you wanted so I had to buy pullet eggs.'

Without going to a dictionary, what do you think? Poor writing? That's too bad? Cute?

My suspicion is the humor would have worked somewhat better on its 1943, just off the farm, audience than with today's mostly urban viewers.

What is your take on pullet eggs?

Anyway, I only brought it up because I was going to talk about pullets as an aside to last night.

Or was that this morning at 5 am.

Either way with daylight savings time it was dark as I made my way up the hill toward the greenhouse.

I flashed my light over at the pullets in their field to the right.

It was so early that rather than out and about, scratching, laying eggs, socializing they were still up roosting as tight as they could get. Wing to wing, thigh to thigh along the narrow roosting boards 6 feet up off the hen house floor.

(last weekend a shareholder came out and was so concerned about the amount of space provided the chickens for sleeping that she asked me about it three times.

"Isn't it crowded at night?"

Which I answered: "Have you ever seen chickens roosting? One of the leading causes of death for chickens not locked up in cages is called 'piling'. As in piling on top of each other."

At night chickens scrunch up as close as they can get to each other for... well I guess for warmth and security - though they will do it even when it is even hot at night. Leaving plenty of space completely unoccupied.

And if they are so young they haven't started roosting, well, the ones on the bottom of the pile. I guess I don't have to describe that.

Anyway, when they are older and can fly up to roost they will perch wing to wing all along their perches, choosing an occupied perch before they will deem to spent the night on an empty one all by themselves).

But, so much for that. Let's get down to the action.

It's dark. I have this powerful flashlight. I'm walking up the drive toward the greenhouse.

I flash the light over at the pullets (and a couple roosters). They are all up on their roosts. Wing to wing.

No sign of a predator.

My real concern is not predators, after all we have the Great Pyrenees (GP) for farm animal protection.

I flash the light up the driveway and there's Marcus our head GP. Snoring. (He's been up, no doubt, the last five hours, running from one end of the farm to the other barking at suspected farm terrorists. Foxes, coyotes, and the biggest terrorist of them all, especially for all of us vegetable eaters. Deer!)

That's when I see her. Rapunzel. one of our three ex-barn cats turned house cats. Coming out of the rye.

You can take the cat out of the barn but you can't take the barn out of the cat.

From Rapunzel's teeth dangles a rodent.

A baby rabbit, I think. Dead. Blood dripping.

Caught in my spotlight she hesitates for just a moment before continuing on her way, across the drive and around the large poplar where we load the vegetables in the summer.

Of our three cats, Rapunzel is the one that roams the farthest a-field.

If we go for a walk at night we have to watch that she doesn't follow us. Getting tired over a mile from the house were our dogs aren't around to protect her could mean she turns in to a meal.

Especially when she has no fear of Coyotes.

There has been many a night when I'm out patrolling the fields and chicken pastures making sure all is cop-acetic I'll run across Rapunzel, out hunting.

Sometimes, down in the hoophouses in between the tomatoes.

Sometimes coming out of the woods, hunting on the edge of our various fields.

One season, when we were having a specially bad ground hog problem, literally hundreds of cabbages and broccoli disappearing every night, I set out half a dozen have-a-heart traps on the edge of the field half a mile away from the house.

In the morning, instead of a ground hog there was Rapunzel. her nose bloody from repeatedly trying and failing to lift the steel door that had slamming down behind her.

Once she disappeared for several weeks and when she returned there was a large wound on her side. Only partially healed. (we thought she was going to die).

No telling what animal she had encountered on one of her nightly strolls and whether it has attacked her, she it, or the encounter had been mutual.

The vital statistic, though, is she survived, with the fur on her side growing back a sort of silver-white rather than the normal deep grey.

Which brings us all the way around to the farm news.

And I guess we can start with the pullet eggs. All 100 dozen a week are now accounted for. SOLD OUT! 

However, A number of people want an egg share larger than half a dozen eggs a week. 'Is this possible?', I'm asked. 'Can we get more eggs?'

The answer -- Well, yes, but not our pullet eggs. Last year half the eggs came from a local certified organic egg raiser. This year all of the eggs come from our chickens. However, we could change this. Do you want more eggs coming from other local chickens than ours? If so, e-mail me. If there's enough demand, I'll contact the local egg raiser and see what I can do about price and quantities.

Other farm news?
The 16th and P as well as the East Falls Church location are now full.

Several people have asked the question. 'How do I know which pick up place I'm signed up for?' The answer-- Unless I have told you otherwise, you are signed up for the spot you asked for when you signed up.

Next question -- How do I know if I'm signed up? If you asked for a share and I sent you back a confirmation e-mail telling you what you signed up for (ie two person vegetable and an egg share or whatever it was you requested), you are signed up. Of course the share isn't yours until you pay for it, but...

When and how do I pay for my share? Again look at your confirmation e-mail. The date the payment is due, the farm mailing address, and how you make the check out (to me) is all there.

'I want to visit the farm, when can I come?' Next visiting time is this Saturday, March 14th, 11-1. 

And for all of you people who want to come out and work. (I've received almost a dozen requests) How about coming out Saturday after that, say 1 until maybe 2. We could pick up rocks from the bottom field, or maybe rehab the cemetery wall.

The hoophouse arrives next week, as do several dozen fruit trees. So next weekend there is plenty of work for volunteers.

Until next week.

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