Our new Poultry Production Manager started last week. Henry (not to be confused with our livestock guardian dog, Henri) drove out all the way from Missouri to work and live at Fifth Crow this season. He has started right in on irrigation repairs, fence mending, and chicken tractor maintenance that has long been over due. He’ll spend ~25 hours/week on chicken duties and the rest of his time will be with the crew and assisting with loading all the market trucks on Fridays and Saturdays plus working a farmers market on Sunday. This last weekend he was with Luke on Saturday at the San Mateo market so I hope some of you got to say “hi” and welcome him to our family.
Speaking of markets, we only cancelled going to our Clement St. market this last weekend on Sunday. We don’t have a CSA pick-up at Clement and we are not allowed to take very many flowers there either so that is why we chose to cancel that particular market. We sent only one person and set up a smaller stall at both Ferry Plaza & Campbell. I hope some of you came on by to keep Darin company in SF and Luke company at Campbell. We didn’t want to continue cancelling markets that also serve as a pick-up location for our CSA members. We’ve got such an abundance of Ranunculus right now and we also will be continuing to bring a lot of dry beans to market so we may look like only a flower & bean vendor at market. Darin took a pic of what his stall looked like at Sunset last Sunday. Dry beans and Ranunculus galore!
Our egg production has picked up quite a bit in just the last two weeks. The longer days are beginning to make a difference not only with our veggie crops but with the hens too. Lena asked me when the CSA needs eggs again. I told her not until May and no, eggs are not a possibility to sign up for for the rest of the winter season. I know, I know, you all want eggs but hopefully you’ve signed up for our egg share for next season. This is a bit of a teaser I suppose, sorry! Our farmers market customers will be very happy to see more showing up each weekend and if you pick up your CSA at market you’ll want to arrive really early to get in line for the eggs.
Lena’s been packing ~4 crates per week (16 dozen per crate) through the winter and now she is pretty much doubling that and more. There are a lot of pullets and most of them are from the variety of hen that lays white eggs (bucket of pullets in pic). Pullet eggs are from chickens who are just getting the hang of laying eggs i.e. hens that are less than a year old. They are noticeably smaller than regular eggs and can even occasionally be quite tiny as the hens work out their learning curve. Pullet eggs are delicious and are often snatched up by pastry chefs-in-the-know for their richness. The yolks tend to be bigger or the eggs are almost all yolk. They’re especially sweet as fried or deviled eggs. I’ve also heard of people using them at Easter time for especially cute decorated eggs. The usual sized pastured eggs are amazingly rich with brightly colored yolks and so are their pullet counterparts plus they sure are cute!
For those of you who start planning your Easter dishes early, here’s a link for a deviled egg recipe. smoky deviled eggs with greek yogurt
Emily picked up some ladybugs at the post office to release again in the greenhouse to combat aphid pressure on the young seedlings. She orders native ladybugs that are from the Sierra Mtns. They are kept in the cooler where they remain dormant until release time. They are released at dusk so they don’t immediately fly away which they will do if released when the sun is out & the temperatures are warm. The ladybugs are thirsty after their journey so they are misted with water and a splash of Sprite which Emily says is their favorite. She has used Pepsi before too. The sticky sugars keep their wings from opening right away so they are less likely to bolt outside. Emily orders more than what she needs because it’s more cost effective so she’ll release half the bugs, wait a week, and then release the second half. She has seen an increase in our ladybug populations out in the fields and can’t help but wonder if it’s due to her regular release of them in the greenhouse over the past two years.
Emily is sowing her summer flower crops now and we’ve all been giving her a hand with the flower harvest and bunching of Ranunculus. We are in the process still of hiring a flower team and have some good candidates that have begun some trial days this week. Yay!!