With the front porch farm stand’s customers numbers growing on a daily basis, one thing I’ve learned that there’s still much to be done in educating the public about seasonal produce and eggs. Our modern, convenient eating habits are no longer defined by season and place. Food routes and patterns are forgotten, thanks to the advent of supermarkets.
Local eggs are in such high demand these days thanks to the recent salmonella scare but raising such a small flock here in the city one, unfortunately, can’t supply the demand. And it’s dealing with the demand that really tests your commitment to stewardship and sustainability. It’s so easy to slip into “if only we had more land/acreage – more animals.” True, that would help the situation to have a bigger farm; however, “how big” is too big is the question – one that leads to very lively (sometimes heated) discussions around the dinner table.
Egg production slows down in fall-winter due to molting and less day light hours. We believe in the humane raising of animals. Therefore, to supply the demand, would we install “lights” in the coop to “force” our girls to lay in winter? Or just, like sis (head writer over at Barnyards and Backyards ) says, “Let nature be.” With our 24-7 food culture, there’s a point when some things just aren’t available and it’s pointless to “force” even if the method is “harmless.” Our chickens and ducks are happy and our customers should appreciate that fact.
This month I’ve had to tell customers, “Sorry, no eggs, the chickens are moulting.” With a quizzical look they ask, “Moulting?” “Yeah, that’s right” I answer back “”They are shedding their feathers which stresses them out and so no eggs.” I try to make them feel better and say that we are desperate for fresh eggs too! The other day Jordanne wanted to bake something only to go to the poultry house and come back with one egg when she needed three. So guess what? She had to find another dessert recipe.
Food sustainability is, by far, a great and complicated balancing act and sometimes you just have to let our modern concept of food go. By raising and growing your own food, you connect with season and place. Nature is the best teacher, and you learn that you can’t have all food all the time.
:: Resources ::
During autumn, many household poultry keepers, particularly people keeping poultry for the first time, are puzzled because egg production markedly declines or ceases despite their laying birds appearing healthy. This seasonal decline in egg production occurs when birds go into a condition known as the ‘moult’.
Moulting is the process of shedding and renewing feathers. During the moult, the reproductive physiology of the bird has a complete rest from laying and the bird builds up its body reserves of nutrients.
The provision of new feathers or a coat (a feature inherent in most animals) is a natural process, designed by nature to maintain a bird’s ability to escape enemies by flight and better protect against cold winter conditions. — Moulting – how, when and why chickens moult