Here is Clara Athearn helping her father Daniel Athearn collect the mornings eggs. She at just three years old is very steady at gently removing eggs from under the hens and carefully placing them is the basket. She works totally un-phased by the dozen hens pecking at her legs and feet. She needs to be involved and will also tell you when ‘she’s tired of collecting eggs’. For her birthday two weeks ago she was given a dozen specialty laying hens that her and her family will raise on their Chilmark farm.
Collecting the eggs is a regular chore. Every day the hens need attention and egg collection. Many folks collect several times a day, right now we collect once a day at about 9 am. If the hens develop the bad habit of breaking and eating eggs you need to start to collect two or three times a day, thankfully ours do not. We have four rooms of about 200 birds each. Three of those rooms are laying now; one room is just ramping up another starting to fade in productivity. The fourth room is planned to start to lay about June 1 in time for the summer season at our farm stand.
The daily production is about 45 dozen a day right now and should go up by summer. This is every day, every Sunday, holiday, day off, rain day sunny day etc. This is the beauty of it, small profits made every day. These eggs are carefully collected, washed, boxed, labeled, cased, and delivered to island businesses. Our largest buyer is Cronigs market, this is a good connection for us all winter when our retail store is closed. IFP (Island Food Products) delivers our eggs to restaurants and markets island wide on a weekly basis.
We sell our eggs on the porch of our farm stand all winter while the store is closed. Self service honor system; collect your eggs from the picnic cooler on the porch and slide the corresponding cash through the slot in the door. We charge $3.25 /doz and $3.50/doz for jumbos. I have been trying pickled eggs at home all winter, trying out different recipes. I have made some great ones, I especially liked the yellow curry ones and the jalapeno eggs. Easter is coming up and if you plan to hard boil and dye local eggs a couple of notes for you. Brown eggs will accept dye but not as well as white eggs, the lighter shades are lost. I find they are good for coloring with crayons, markers or stickers. Also fresh eggs are just that fresh, so the yolk will stay right in the center of the egg and not fall to the bottom while cooking and the whites are connected to the shell and do not peel as easy as older factory farm produced eggs. The general way to deal with this is to get your dying eggs a couple of weeks early and let them rest in the refrigerator, older eggs peel much easier. This can also give you a chance to select the whiter eggs over a period of weeks.
Have and Eggselent day. simon