Well, around here, the Chickens come first. And here they are at two days old, just newly arrived from the hatchery. Can you guess how they arrive? Would you believe... Airmail!!! That's right - funny huh? The Good Ol' US of A Post Office allows them to be airmailed in special boxes like the one that Michael's holding here in the photo above.
The baby chicks spend their first month here in our cardboard insulated, sawdust floored, Heat Lamped Brooder. This little enclosure uses a hinged lid that operates like a horizontal door that stays open when we add bedding, food, and water. We also have another roof with windbreaker sides to insure they stay warm and dry.
After their brooder beginnings, we move them to a protected pasture. In this photo the young hens are seen foraging on grass and grubs, while still being supplemented with our special corn-free, soy-free, non-GMO grains. We keep them here for a few more months until they're ready to join the older birds on larger pastures.
These are fully mature laying hens that are now producing full-sized eggs for us while fertilizing the pasture. Chickens produce the highest known natural nitrogen source on the planet. They also de-infest the pastures of any grass-damaging crickets or parasites. It's an amazing system of cleaning and fertilizing which is natural, ecological, and extremely economical, while producing a healthy bi-product for our own nutrition and sustenance - their eggs!!!
Now being that Chickens are at the low end of the food chain, we can't just leave them out at night, so we give them a coop to nest in, where they can also roost in at night for their protection. This is a special coop because it has external flip-out doors for easy egg collecting (without having to go inside) and because it is built with four wheels so that we can move it around each pasture in order to keep spreading the fertilizer from one place to the next.
That's Michael on the ATV pulling the "Egg-Mobile" a few lengths forward. (He asked if we could soup up the coop with a 454 Hot Rod Motor and steering wheel, but that idea hasn't gotten built yet).
Mariana does most of the egg collecting around here and actually, of all the work that I've done here in the last seventeen years, my favorite job is (by far) collecting eggs with Nina (Special Time).
Then inside we go to wash the eggs. No conveyor belt here. Just a little water with a sponge does a fine job and keeps everything natural and pure.
Next we take turns weighing and packaging the eggs. By the way - if you've ever wondered what makes the difference between a medium, large, and extra-large egg... it's not the physical size, but the weight of the egg that matters. Another interesting fact is the refrigerator-shelf life of these eggs is over two months. They are handled so naturally and simply without distributor and shipping delays that our customers usually receive them within a few days of collecting and packing. It's nice for us to offer you the real meaning of Free-Range, Fresh Eggs :)