Backyard Chickens, Breeds, Fresh Eggs

The Backyard Chicken Egg Rainbow: Selecting breeds for their distinctive egg colors

From the moment that we began selling our eggs locally, the importance of displaying beautiful colors in each of our egg cartons was second only to the health of our hens. As a new farm, and as farmers who learned by trial and error, we were extraordinarily busy. We used daylight hours for working outside on the farm, and when it turned dark, we turned to indoor tasks such as customer service, marketing, research & development, web design, and egg washing. We frequently washed eggs into the hours that should no longer be considered night, but can’t yet be called morning. After hand washing and packaging our eggs, we frequently reconfigured egg cartons to evenly distribute the most beautiful eggs and maximize the beauty of every carton so that when our customers opened their cartons to cook, the eggs would unfailingly make them smile. We were one of the first farms in our area to place such an importance on the beauty of each dozen eggs we sold. We were lauded by our customers and the farm amassed a very loyal following.

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When food makes us happy, we place a higher value on how it’s made and where it comes from. We’ll spend the extra time and money to find it and purchase it from a small farmer who valued it enough to grow it well. We will take the time to prepare it for a nice meal, and we will savor that meal, or share it with family and friends. Placing value on food such as this nourishes our bodies, our homes, our relationships, and our communities.

This is one reason why backyard chicken keepers are obsessed with the colors of the eggs all their hens lay. A colorful box of eggs can make a gorgeous host gift, teachers gift, trade, and more. From dark chocolate brown eggs to creamy tinted eggs and all the shades of blue and green in between, here are a list of the breeds that lay all the egg colors you’re looking for.

Araucanas – The South American tufted and rumpless Araucana lays gorgeous sky-blue eggs.

Ameraucanas – The bearded Ameraucana, bred forth from the Araucana in America, also lays a stunning blue egg, but the breed has been relieved of it’s deadly tufted gene, and the rumplessness that causes fertility issues.

Barnevelders – Though the shades vary tremendously based on the quality of the bird, the Dutch Barnevelders are known for laying a darker brown egg.

Cream Legbar – Instead of laying just one color of eggs, this British breed may lay either a light pastel blue or green egg.

Easter Eggers – These are Ameraucanas that are not show-quality, or true-bred; but they lay a larger size and higher number of eggs that have a magnificent range of colors from blue to green.

Isbar – This Sweedish chicken’s eggs vary from light mossy green to dark olive green.

Marans – Though the French Marans chickens are highly sought after for the rich dark chocolate brown of the Black Copper Marans eggs, this breed is quite difficult to obtain. Other Marans may lay beautiful dark brown eggs, though not quite as dark, depending on the quality of the breeding and the Marans variety.

Olive Eggers – A cross between any green or blue egg layer and a dark brown egg layer gives you a hybrid that lays a beautiful olive green egg.

Penedesenca – The flighty Spanish Penedesenca also layes a gorgeous dark brown egg, though is a much harder bird to keep for backyard chicken keepers.

Welsummers – Another Dutch chicken prized for large dark brown, and often speckled, eggs.

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Baby Chicks, Backyard Chickens, Farming, WWOOF USA

Our Farm’s First WWOOFers

As a couple of young farmers, we get a lot done during the day. This year we have been so blessed that we are staying really busy and we’ve almost reached the point where we couldn’t continue to move forward with our business because we were spending nearly all of our 7 day work weeks on farm management and sales. In November, we visited a farm in Santa Barbara owned by a couple friends of ours, Kevin and Lauren Hanson, who are trying to revive an old avocado orchard. They had a group young, spunky, and passionate people out there working happily to help them reach their goals – WWOOFers. I had heard of the program, and loved the idea, but never imagined we had the capacity to open up our farm for work-stays. Kevin gave us the rundown and it sounded too good to be true. We dragged our feet of course, not sure how to provide them with a place to stay, and then got a call from a couple of women who wanted to come work. We threw together an old motorhome with cute thrift store finds, and voila! Jeremy picked them up from another farm in Carmel Valley. The were soon after joined by their friend.

 

We have had such an amazing experience with them! Since they are our first WWOOFers, we are delighted to share it with you. For those of you who are not familiar with WWOOF – it stands for WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It is a work-stay program designed to connect people with host farms in a mutually beneficial working relationship where knowledge and skills are shared. The program has a chapter in almost any country you can think of, including WWOOF-USA. This is where we get to thank the WWOOF Organization as a whole and WWOOF-USA specifically for creating an environment rich in knowledge and growth that grooms our future generations of farmers, or even just our future generations of responsible citizens!!

 

Our first WWOOFers came to California from Georgia. Their names are Katie, Brooke, and Chaz – and they have been so helpful! Katie is excellent at gardening, Brooke has a great eye for photography, and Chaz has learned he has a knack for construction. They’ve all learned to drive manual transmission, how to care for chickens, build coops, and so much more.

 

We’ve also had a great time with them: homemade pasta nights, a seven mile hike with the puppies, corned beef and cabbage for St. Patty’s Day, getting baby pigs, sightseeing trips to Los Angeles, and game nights. And tomorrow morning we will be milking goats in Santa Barbara with one of our favorite people, Emma Fowler with the Isla Vista Food Co-op, and catching a Jalama Burger on the way home to catch our first hatch of Lavender Orpingtons and Olive Eggers for the year. Life is good. The girls will be with us until March 28th, and Chaz will be here until April 10th. Then we will be looking for our next set of WWOOFers… any volunteers?

 

For fun, here is a peek at one of the pictures Brooke took with our Canon 50D.

 

 

And, as I promised! The winner for the Free T-Shirt from our last blog is Tammy! Please email me with your address and preferred size, and it will ship to you on April 10th. If you didn’t win, you have until the end of the month to Pre-Order your Dare 2 Dream Farm T-Shirts! 

 

Thanks for your support everyone!