Valley Bounty: Eggs

When I spoke with Kristen Whittle, she exclaimed, “This is the time of year when eggs are coming out of farmers’ eyeballs!” Kristen owns Little Brook Farm in Sunderland and she explained that as the days get longer in March and April, hens begin “laying like crazy.”

Although Kristen specializes in raising animals for meat, she considers her layers a passion project. She loves chickens that have a unique look and her pen is filled with breeds with colorful names like Speckled Sussex, Buff Orpington, and Golden Brabanter. Unfortunately for Kristen, her customers aren’t the only ones with a penchant for extraordinary chickens. A few years back, small mounds of dirt began mysteriously appearing around the farm. A fox had discovered the chicken flock. “He would come in, kill a bunch of chickens and stash them in caches. Each one of the mounds had a dead chicken in it so he could come back and eat it later!” It was only once Kristen had buried chicken wire a foot and a half  deep around the entire chicken enclosure that the flock was safe again.

Foxes aren’t the only predators eager to snatch away some chickens. “We have a tree on our property that we call the hawk tree,” Kristen explained. She’s seen Red Tail Hawks, Bald Eagles, and even a pair of Perrigan Falcons eying her flock hungerly from that tree. It took a specialized netting enclosure, shipped in from a poultry farmer in Alabama, to keep the birds of prey at bay.

Fortunately, you don’t have to outsmart Kristen to get your hands on some delicious local eggs this spring. Pick up a dozen at a local farm stand along with some local bacon, maple syrup, and a loaf of bread to try out a Little Brook Farm favorite. Grab a muffin tin and cut the bread into pieces that fit the shape of the muffin cups. Melt down a 1/4 cup of maple syrup and half a stick of butter together in a sauce pan. Spread the maple butter onto both sides of the bread pieces, then slide them into the tin. Cook the bacon half way through then place it in a circle atop the bread pieces, creating little cups. Sprinkle in some grated cheddar, crack an egg into each bacon cup, then toss it in the oven at 400° for 10-15 minutes until the egg is cooked to taste.

Valley Bounty is written by Noah Baustin of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)