WHERE DO OUR EGGS COME FROM? A VISIT TO SUCELLUS FARMS.

Welcome to the August 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Farmer’s Markets

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about something new they’ve learned about their local farmers.

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All photography courtesy of the much more photographically talented half of this parenting partnership, J.

One of Sucellus Farms’ many friendly goats.

Our family eats a lot of eggs. And when I say a lot, I mean that two adults and a one-year-old (Happy first birthday, Oliver!) consume on average six dozen eggs each week. Sometimes more.

People often ask how it is that we don’t get tired of eating eggs for breakfast every single day. The truth is, fresh, free-range eggs just never get old. They have an unbelievably rich taste, texture and colour, when compared with their grocery store counterparts. The flavour is deeper and more complex, with subtle variations from one egg to another.

We have found that the freshest eggs tend to come directly from the source, whether it be from a farmer at one of Vancouver’s weekly farmer’s markets, a vendor at the Granville Island Public Market, an ad hoc roadside stand in one of Vancouver’s agricultural suburbs, or more recently, a farm belonging to my friend Chris’ family.

Sucellus Farms — named, appropriately, for the Celtic god of agriculture and fermented beverages:) — is a small family farm that raises cows, goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits and puppies.

This one is definitely smiling for the camera.

Greg is greeted by the goats.

Farmers Lee-Ann and Greg strive to run their farm in a way that produces healthy, happy animals, and has a beneficial impact on the environment. Animals are kept in spacious outdoor pastures, and are predominantly grass and forage-fed. Lee-Ann cites Polyface Farms’ Joel Salatin of Food Inc. fame as one of her greatest farming inspirations.

We have been buying eggs from Sucellus Farms through my friend, and in late July, were fortunate to be able to arrange to visit Lee-Ann and Greg’s farm, and to meet – among other animals – the chickens who produce our daily eggs.

When we arrived at the farm, the first order of business was meeting Evie, the large and very friendly German Shepherd who guards the hen flock from predators when they are free ranging. Next, we visited the three goat enclosures.

Oliver enjoys petting Hayden (left) while one of the goats looks on.

Sucellus Farms raises goats for meat, dairy and breeding purposes. The goats are kept in large pastures, and taken on daily walks up and down the farm’s meandering driveway, where they help Greg and Lee-Ann to keep the weeds and sprawling blackberry bushes at bay.

A baby goat nursing with its mother.

The goats live with large dogs, like Hayden, who help protect them from the local coyote population.

Amused by Hayden’s big doggy yawn.

One of the brand new babies.

The day prior to our visit, Lee-Ann had purchased some new baby goats from auction. The kids were just a few days old, and were still being bottle-fed.

I was lucky to get a chance to feed two of the babies. Seems I had more success bottle-feeding another mammal’s babies than I did with my own baby!😉

Learning to bottle feed a non-human kid… with a beer bottle!

Lee-Anne feeds and cuddles the new babies.

Goats are extremely characterful and curious animals. They were particularly interested in little Oliver, and all enjoyed getting to know him. One of the babies even gave him a kiss on the cheek!

“Ooh, a baby – just like me!”

Quite possibly the cutest photo I have ever seen.

The apparently aptly-named calf, Doofus.

Next, we met Doofus, the calf, also just a few days old. Lee-Ann and Greg are planning to breed Doofus, in the hopes of producing a dairy calf to provide them with raw milk. In British Columbia, health regulations prevent the sale of raw dairy; however, farmers are permitted to keep and consume the raw milk from their own animals. Sucellus Farms also sells a small quantity of grass-fed beef once each year.

The chicken enclosure.

After a quick look at the meat chickens, we finally got to visit the very hens who produce the eggs we eat. The hens are kept in a large outdoor enclosure, and allowed to roam free under Evie’s close supervision. They have a large hut that serves as both a shelter and an area for their nesting boxes.

The chickens feed on a combination of chicken feed and forage (grass, seeds, insects), and they always have fresh water available.

Oliver tries to scatter some feed.

Together, we watched the chickens hunt and peck in the dirt, as all happy chickens should.

Watching the chickens.

Hanging around the water cooler.

Then, Lee-Ann gave us a freshly-laid green egg — still warm!

Trying to show the egg to Oliver, without allowing him to smash it:)

Beautiful rainbow eggs from Sucellus Farms.

At the end of our visit, we bought six dozen more of Sucellus Farms‘ amazing eggs. Unlike the eggs you get from the grocery store, these eggs are all different shapes, sizes and colours. Even the yolks are different sizes and colours! They are almost too beautiful to eat… almost.

Have you ever had the opportunity to trace your food back to its origins? Are there foods your family  regularly consumes that could be bought directly from a farmer instead of from the grocery store? What are some other ways to teach your children about the provenance of the foods they eat?

Some fun facts about eggs:

1. The colour of the egg is determined by the breed of the chicken. For the most part, brown hens lay brown eggs and white hens lay white eggs. Sucellus FarmsAmeraucana hens lay the striking green and blue eggs you see in this photo.

2. All of the eggs from a particular hen will look similar. See if you can tell which eggs in the photo may have come from the same hen(s).

3. As a hen gets older, she will lay larger and larger eggs.

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Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon August 14 with all the carnival links.)

25 responses to “WHERE DO OUR EGGS COME FROM? A VISIT TO SUCELLUS FARMS.

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  2. What a great learning experience for your little one, Carli! I share your passion for eggs! Fun fact: I’ve been consuming a pretty big amount of eggs daily since I gave birth 2 weeks ago. And my eggs also come from my local farmer:) Delicious!

    • I think it was a learning experience for all of us.:) I’d like to continue taking Oliver to farms as he gets older and understands more, because I think it’s really important for a city kid, especially, to have the chance to learn where his food comes from.

      Congratulations on your new baby!:) Your blog is fantastic, by the way. Guess that’s a nice little benefit of participating in blog carnivals – finding new and interesting blogs to follow.

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  4. I think that is the cutest photo ever. I was swooning over how adorable both babies were. How cool you got to bottle feed a kid.

    I didn’t know that eggs get bigger as hens get older — cool! I really want to find a good local source for eggs that look and sound as delicious as yours. Very inspiring!

    • Aww, thanks:) Baby and animal photos are the best, aren’t they?

      It can be tough to find good local eggs when you live in a big city, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that our local Whole Foods store, of all places, carries a very limited quantity of some amazing free-range, organic eggs from a small farm. We usually alternate those (when they’re available) with the eggs from Sucellus Farms, and that keeps us well stocked:)

  5. Wow, six dozen eggs per week is a lot of eggs! I can understand why you like them so much, as farm fresh eggs are so much different (and far more tasty) than the ones found on the shelves. Thanks for taking us on a tour of this beautiful farm! Looks like you all had a great time. =)

  6. That is a LOT of eggs!! We have recently gone egg-free because my daughter is allergic (well, hopefully just sensitive and crossing fingers she grows out of it). I cannot tell you how much I miss eggs. And right when I was trying to talk my hubby into getting some chickens. {sigh} But your trip to the farm looks like so much fun – I need to take my kiddos to a local farm soon!
    ~Dionna @ CodeNameMama.com

    • Oh dear… I don’t know what we’d have done if Oliver had ended up having an egg allergy. That’s quite a difficult one, since eggs are in so many products. I’ve heard that the vast majority of children outgrow egg allergies by age five, so I hope your daughter does too:)

      Have you thought about getting chickens and allowing your kids to “raise” them (with help ;)) and sell the eggs? It would be a great lesson in both farming and entrepreneurship.

  7. That looks like a fun family farm tour! Those pictures are great! We raise our own hens, so sometimes we seem to have eggs coming out our ears, and other times we don’t have enough. I do love the variety of color and sizes from our hens.

    • Lucky you! We would love to have our own hens. Vancouver does allow urban backyard chickens, but you have to have a house to have a backyard, and unfortunately most families here, like us, can only afford condo living. We are on the wait list for a community garden plot, though, which would be fantastic.

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    • Oliver has the blue dinosaur one too, and when he wore it to daycare a few weeks ago his teacher told me that two other kids had been wearing the exact same thing the previous day. And here I thought we were being original by driving down to the US to shop at Carter’s…😉

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