Monday, November 15, 2010

From the Farm

Our chickens have been on strike -- well actually they're moulting and not laying. This happens at least once a year and I don't begrudge then their rest. But it means we're only getting one or two eggs a day and have had to supplement with store-bought. 

I buy only eggs from  'cage-free, humanely raised' chickens but even so, look at the difference in these yolks! The store-bought version is a pale shadow of the Real Thing from our chickens.
 
But though we're almost out of eggs, the milk is flowing!
Behold! Homemade butter, courtesy of Justin and Claui (and, of course, Marigold.) And lovely milk with a bit of top cream. (Some has already been skimmed to make butter.)

I'm so proud of those young uns!
Posted by Picasa

31 comments:

Reader Wil said...

I like the photos of your house and garden! This way I know how Elisabeth lives!!
The colour of the yolk of your own chicken looks a lot healthier! I also try to buy eggs from a free range farm, but it's always a problem in supermarkets to find them. We never can tell exactly how cage-free these hens were.

Martin H. said...

Oh dear, the shop bought egg is looking a bit insipid, against that of the home layer. That butter looks delicious, Vicki. I can imagine it spread on a thick slice of toast, washed down with mug of strong tea.

Hélène GLEHEN said...

It is a beautiful portrait of a hen :o)
By the way, of course eggs coming from hens running freely in the fields are far better than those of poor hens living in a prison-cage.

The table in your kitchen looks lovely. I love it !

joanny said...

Well sooner or later the chicks were bound to go on strike, give them some freedom and they are going to want better hours, warm cages and vacation time...
Yes and the eggs taste different and cook differently as well, Love the photo's, the kitchen scene especially....
cheers,
joanny

Friko said...

I thought all chickens stopped laying as busily during the colder seasons.
I know that the egg supply from my farm shop dries up in late autumn.

Jean Baardsen said...

You have a beautiful world.

Kaye Barley said...

oh my. Those eggs and that homemade butter. What could be better?! yum

Carol@The Writers Porch said...

We really need to be neighbors,I could give you eggs and you could give me milk! We are getting 11 eggs a day from 15 hens! Guess I need to start selling eggs! XOXO

Marjorie said...

Dear Vicki,

This probably isn't the right place to post this, but I wanted to thank you for your lovely books. I have just read the first two Elizabeth books (and will now eagerly read the 2nd two!). You write with such respect and affection for the people and places in your books and I admire that.

And I wanted to publicly thank two of your most loyal advocates, Karen B. and Vicki V. who talked so highly to anyone who would listen about you and your books during Bouchercon this year that I eouldn't wait to go home and start reading them.

Thank you very much,
Marjorie from Connecticut

Bouncin' Barb said...

My husband spent about 7 years of his youth on a farm back in the 1940's. His job was to church the butter and help out with the milking of the cows. He would tell me of the great taste of cream and the eggs. Said there was nothing like it. Maybe that's what prompted him to become a french chef. They use a lot of butter and creme and eggs.

Elora said...

We are in the same boat as you, Vicki, with regard to eggs. It's hard to think of those anemic store-boughts as real eggs! Our four old black hens are about to hit the chicken-and-dumplings circuit, though, especially, now, as one of these has turned into an egg pecker/eater. And we're only getting one egg a day! So, they're all heading for the pot! It's time for our 19 (or so) pullets to start laying, and we'll be awash with eggs! So it's curtains for the old ones. Waste not, want not!

Elora

Vicki Lane said...

You're right, Reader Wil -- Elizabeth's house is a duplicate of ours!

I should have included one of John's homemade loaves. Martin! They're perfect for that thick toasted slice. And today it's tea for me -- I seem to have a bit of a cold and that makes coffee, my usual morning drink, taste awful for some reason. So it's strong Irish Breakfast tea with honey and lemon that I'll be drinking all day long. Come evening, I may add a tot of rum...

Merci bien, Helene! She is a pretty hen! I'd love to see her in one of your paintings!

Thanks, Joanny! -- actually, it's the dining room -- better light there than the kitchen.

Yes, Friko, they slow down due to cold and shorter days -- but we usually get a few eggs during the winter. Once they're past their moult, thing should pick up a bit.

Thanks, Jean -- we feel very, very lucky.

Home-fried chicken comes to mind, Kaye -- not better but at least as good!

Wouldn't that be handy, Carol!

Oh, Marjorie! Such kind words are welcome wherever they appear! I'm so glad you're enjoying Elizabeth! Yes, I am in love with the people and the places where I live and I'm always happy to be told it shows in my work!

And Karen and Vicki -- what sweethearts they are! Karen's been a good friend for a while and she introduced me to Vicki at Bcon. Maybe next year in St. Louis I'll meet you in person!

Barb -- butter and cream are the great temptations. I am Trying to be moderate.

Good for you, Elora. I tend to keep the old biddies on as boarders as long as Someone's laying. We don't have a problem with butchering the 10 week old broilers but the old girls we've gotten to know over several years are different... not a good farmer's attitude but there it is...

Alan Burnett said...

You can certainly see the difference : and I imagine that you can taste the difference as well. Great images.

Star said...

I just love the top cream especially on my cornflakes. Nowadays the supermarket milk has the cream all through it and it is just not the same. All the years that the children were growing up, I had my milk delivered and bread, yoghurt and other things like orange juice. All came to me on the milkvan. I really miss that top cream and now you've given me a taste for it.
There is nothing like fresh eggs either and your fresh egg looks delicious. What do you feed them to make the yolks so dark? Is it cabbage?
Lovely pictures.
Blessings, Star

Vicki Lane said...

Star -- the chickens get cracked corn, laying pellets, and all our food scraps -- everything that might otherwise go into compost. (The dirt in the chicken yard is an informal sort of compost pile and we dig up sacks of it now and then to enrich the garden.) In summer they get lots of weeds and garden waste as well.

Suz said...

I would love to have one of those gorgeous eggs fried please sunnyside up

Margaret Bednar said...

The top photo is outstanding - love the angle. Also, I read "cage free" usually means the chicks are all in one big "barn" and as they grow, the open space becomes smaller and smaller, until they are wedged in like sardines and can't move.

I grew up with chickens clucking and pecking all around our little farm (well, actually after the garden was done - otherwise they had a huge penned in area) But I remember them getting out every once in a while and making a bee-line for the garden!

Brian Miller said...

lovely pics vicki...bet that butter tastes amazing...my youngest wants to have a farm when he grows up...

Pat in east TN said...

Nothing like fresh/home grown goodies to really spoil a person.

Two thumbs up for Justin and Claui, as you won't find many young uns who will commit to such a lifestyle.

willow said...

I'm feeling chicken & egg envy!!

Deanna said...

I so love the farm fresh eggs we get from our son. They taste better. I've noticed the rich color difference too.

You live the simple life - even thought it is a lot of work - it is a simple life. So nice.

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Vicki -- Oh, that last photo looks so fresh and delicious. I believe I am going to pay closer attention to the egg yolk color. I buy from a local farmer, find them tasty, but maybe they could be better? Thanks for the info -- barbara

Marilyn said...

What a gorgeous hen ...no wonder she lays the best of eggs.
I love this glimpse of your (and Elizabeth's life), farmlife is the best there is I think.
I am reading Art's Blood now - it's so good!

Vicki Lane said...

I've read that too, Margaret -- not ideal but better at least than the tiny cages.

Oh, Brian, I wanted to live on a farm -- or a ranch -- ever since I was about five.

They are such great people, Pat!

Maybe an elegant chicken tractor with Black Silkies would fit in at Willow Manor.

Thanks, Marilyn! I had a lot of fun with modern 'art.'

June said...

O!
The cream!
The CREAM!
Yes, the beautiful bright-eyed egg, but . . . the CREAM!

Mama-Bug said...

Oh, this post is making me want to get chickens again. That little red hen is sweet. I used to have a little black and gold banty hen that was nothing but a pet. When ever I would go into the hen house she would get on my shoulder and ride while I collected eggs. Little as she was she put all those Rhode Island red hens in their place!

Merisi said...

You have created a beautiful haven for good food and love, with a lot of hard work and love. You have every reason for being proud of your young ones!

Tammy said...

My Old Girls (and really they deserve the capitals!) have 'dried up' on the egg producing for several months now. I don't expect them to really do much more, as they are all pushing the 8 or 9 year mark. I'm thinking of getting a younger trio of hens to take up the slack and support the 'old folks home'. I did get lucky though when I visited a friend a few weeks back and got two dozen free range eggs (after I desperately asked her if she had any HENS to sell! ha). I had resorted to buying the 'cage free' eggs too and they are so bland. When I was a kid my cousins had a dairy and drank the milk fresh from the cow. It was always such a shock to me who was raised on 'store bought' milk. So cool that your youngsters are making butter! It looks beautiful! Are they going to attempt cheese making? I would love to try cheese making sometime.
Tammy

maría cecilia said...

This is what I most love from you... your farm life, adorable my dearest Vicki!!!!

Miss_Yves said...

A new kind of "still lives " in this post!
(Sorry, i'm very lte to answer to you)

Tipper said...

The difference in the eggs is amazing! Fresh butter = yummy!