Sunny Hill Farm

Egg Season

Its egg season

If you shop for your foods locally, you may have already noticed that eggs, like many other items, have a season, a time of greatest abundance.  And like other seasonal items, one is challenged to find ways to preserve the abundance for the times of scarcity.  This has been an age-old question, with some interesting solutions.

For our farm, eggs are abundant at this time of the year, early spring and summer.  Often the heat of August can cause the chickens to stop laying their eggs and go through the molting process, when they naturally drop all their feathers and grow a new set.  Obviously, the warmest weather is the best time for this, so that is when they do it.  But again, this means no eggs! (But hours of amusement watching naked chicken butts running around!)

So the trick is to somehow stash the eggs up while they are plentiful.  Storing eggs has limits, because a whole egg does not freeze well.  A thawed egg is still edible, one can no longer distinguish between the white and yolk, and they no longer froth if needed.  If you enjoy your eggs scrambled, they can be beaten and frozen raw, or cooked scrambled and then frozen.

Eggs can be hard-boiled and pickled, if you enjoy the unique taste.  Simply save the brine from store-bought or homemade pickles and drop in your own eggs.  Let them sit in the brine at least two weeks for best flavor.  Pickled eggs should be stored in a very cool, dark place, such as the refrigerator or proper pantry (below 40 degrees, F).

One of our favorite ways to store up extra eggs is to make homemade pasta.  European-style pasta is traditionally made from eggs, flour and salt.  Pasta can be thus dried or frozen and will keep for a while.  Make lots of batches of pasta while the eggs are abundant, and enjoy throughout the year.

pasta is easy to make

My pasta recipe is simply:

8 cups of flour
6 eggs
2 tsp salt
water, if needed to moisten

We mix ours with the dough hook, but a paddle will work fine.  It needs at least a couple of minutes of mixing to get the gluten strands going.  The dough should not be sticky when finished.  It can be rolled out by hand or put through a pasta roller.  Keep layers of pasta separated with floured wax or parchment paper, or they will re-combine.
 issac making pasta

Homemade fresh pasta is boiled for a shorter time than dried.  Fresh pasta is done in under 5 minutes.  When it is finished it will float.  It is such a treat, much more filling than the pasta from the store.

fresh pasta

Another old-time method for storing whole eggs is to bathe them in a substance called "water-glass".  This is sodium silicate, and is used 1/3 cup to 1 qt of boiled, cooled water.  Eggs must be unwashed (but wiped clean) and infertile.  Eggs can be stored immersed in the water-glass solution for up to three months under 40 degrees F.   I have personally never done this, but have heard my elders talk of doing it with good results.

And of course, the best way to keep fresh abundant eggs from going to waste is to indulge is rich dishes and deserts that use many of them, such as mousse, sabayon, bread pudding, homemade pudding, Quiche, Carbonara, etc!

Please share your favorite recipes and methods of keeping extra eggs.  I would love to hear them.

Even Farm Animals Like Recycling!

Springtime has come early to Sunny Hill Farm in the high tunnel.  When the weather is sunny, the tunnel is usually 10-15 degrees warmer than outside, especially when it's windy.  The green things have already begun growing for the season and the smell is wonderfully warm and verdant.  My daughter likes to go in there and take off her shoes, enjoying the feel of grass between her toes a few weeks early. 

 High Tunnel 

Spinach, arugula, mustard and lettuces are waking up and growing again from last Fall's sowing.  Other green things are growing in there, too: clover, purslane and especially chickweed.  These weeds need to be removed before we plant the space anew for the Summer season.  I know that many of the plants we consider "weeds" are actually perfectly edible, nutritious, and quite yummy.  Back in the past, many of these cold-hardy greens were a welcome addition to the diet in the earliest days of Spring, when folks were living off their winter store of starchy roots and rich meats and were ready for a fresh change.  Chickweed, in particular, is especially sweet and nutritious, and it grows abundantly in a low spreading carpet. 


Even though discarded weeds are composted to return their nutrients to the soil, I still look for ways to capture even more of the nutrition and resources available on-farm, to minimize our off-farm inputs, reduce costs, and keep our ecosystem as healthy and diverse as possible.  One way we do this is to harvest plants such as grasses and weeds to feed to our animals, especially those who cannot always be out on pasture.  Feeding the animals grasses and weeds is closer to their natural diet than grain, and provides the myriad of vitamins and minerals often needed to be supplemented else-wise. 

So my daughter and I have been going out to the high tunnel daily and harvesting this abundant chickweed to feed to our pigs and poultry.  I was unable to find definitive evidence that it was suitable daily for our other animals, so I only feed it to them, not the sheep, cows or horse.  Many of these weeds are good for one species of animal but not others, so always do your homework and check first, being sure you have a positive identification.  In order to keep the horse from getting jealous, we also grab a few handfuls of clover to give to her, too.

This time together is very enjoyable for my Gwee and me, and we are doing two jobs at once, weeding in preparation for this coming season, and giving our animals a little nutrition boost.  Fun, easy, and cost-effective recycling!