Join the locavore movement and respond to the demand for farm-fresh eggs.
Dampness soaks through my boots as I traipse through thick, wet grass on my way to the laying hens at 6 am on Saturday morning. I lift the back flap to their mobile coop, which gives me direct rear-end access to their nests. An indignant Barred Rock sounds her shock and disapproval, leaping off her perch as though I’ve caught her with her skirts hitched high in an outhouse. An annoyed black Sexlink utters a low cackling warning growl as I reach under her, pull out the warm result of her morning effort, and dodge her pecks. I am there in violation of visiting hours. Egg gathering is a legal activity any time after 3pm, permissible in exchange for a little feed to be thrown down for the girls to peck and scratch while I visit each nest. A 6 am intrusion is just plain rude.
I have no choice. Crumpled in my back pocket is a list of advance egg orders that I am trying to fill for the morning farmers market. For many years, Bob and I have carried nine to twelve dozen eggs to the market every Saturday morning from mid-May through Mid-October. We have a little space at our booth where we have always displayed the boxes. Most days they would sell out by noon; occasionally they would linger until the end of the day, and we’d pass a leftover dozen on to the guy next to us who sells maple syrup. These days, that display space remains vacant. For a period of time, egg lovers would begin hitting our stall before the market even opened, pleading with us to make the sale before we’d finished setting up for business. They would be followed by the on-time crowd, some of who would be angry that we had served the folks who didn’t obey the market’s operating hours. Once we observed customers elbowing and pushing their way to the egg display, we switched to the pre-order system.
Each week, I send an email to about three hundred subscribing customers. It is like waving a checkered flag, signaling that I am ready to accept advance orders on our products. As each reply comes in I make a list, noting the date and time of every advance order, adopting a first-come, first serve policy. All eggs remain hidden in a cooler below our sale table, and they are handed out quietly to the lucky winners.
Our market manager carefully juries and monitors all the products sold by vendors in an effort to ensure ample diversity, high quality, and minimal replication. But, eggs have always been the exception. Any farmer who wants to bring his or her eggs to the market is welcome. Market-goers love them. The reasons are obvious.
Farm fresh eggs, especially from hens allowed to forage freely, are ablaze with color. The bright yolks stand erect and well-rounded, surrounded by a strong membrane that makes them