Grass is "out of hopeful green stuff woven."*
When you lost your light, the sun will rise.
It will be all right.
* Walt Whitman
In a rainbow of colors, there are dark ones, light ones, spotted ones, uneven ones.
It's what you make of the eggs that counts. It's what we make of our months that counts.
May the 12 new months of 2020 go from darkness to light, and bring you joy and fulfillment.
Happy New Year 2020.
Jack is a special Maremma dog who lives on cuddles and hugs and all shapes of kindness and affection. He reminds us every day: show kindness to the people you love.
Be kind to everyone.
Kind is the new cool.
Merry Christmas from Hilltops Free Range egg farm!
"I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains."
-"My Country" Poem by Dorothea Mackeller
A cupful of eggs helps the recipe cook well? Making a recipe that calls for eggs in a cup. Have we got this right do you think? We need help.
That's an age-old question, waiting to be answered.
Different theories exist:
- Camouflage? Speckled eggs are laid by birds that roam freely in natural environment. The speckles help to hide the eggs from predators.
- Pigment deficiency? Some specialists claim speckled egg rotate too slowly during the 'coloring' stage. Did you know, all egg shells are 'manufactured' white inside the chicken first?
- A National Geographic study from 2005 found that the dark spots were specifically located on the parts of the shell that were the thinnest. The chemicals in the pigment then act a bit like glue. The speckles support the weak areas of the shell and protect it from breaking.
Speckles make eggs beautiful and unique. What other theories can you find?
Look closely at our Isa browns. You can see single lacing plumage (that's the dark trim around the edge), combined with penciled plumage (that's the thin lines which may follow the direction and shape of the feather, but don't necessarily trim it)
Each bird has a striking and intricate color pattern, a mix of chestnut brown, chocolate brown and white.
Other poultry breeds have mottled plumage (a pattern that almost resembles the fur of a spotted dalmatian) or spangled plumage (where the tip and base of the feather have pigment, and the middle is just white).
A simple loss of pigment that creates awesome beauty.
This week, more than 11,000 scientists issued a warning that "clearly and unequivocally,.. planet Earth is facing a climate emergency."
Here is a small pastured eggs farm's call to action: buy a couple of chickens!
All your food scraps will be utilized. Any leftover food will be fully recycled into egg production. Let them free in the back garden. Let them fertilize, scratch, engage in their natural behavior. Let them put nitrogen and organic matter back in the soil.
The food they will make for you (eggs) has some of the lowest carbon footprint of all protein sources. Graph of food carbon footprint not per kg of food, but per gram of protein below:
If you can't raise chickens, then ask questions when you buy your food. How is the food produced? How are the animals treated? How sustainable is the farming system?
All of our actions, all our decision, every day, every person. This is the only way to care for the planet. Not declarations, nor summits by politicians.
Be the change you want to see in the world. It all starts with you.
The full BioScience Report is available here.
Image of carbon footprint per gram of protein is sourced from here.
Thank you, Telstra Business Awards for acknowledging sustainable, rotational farming, caring for the Land and investing in the future.
Hide-and-seek eggs: chickens like to hide their eggs from predators and often play a game with us: they hide and we seek.
Because this Spring we want to thank our chickens for our fantastically healthy mob of lambs. Chickens roam our paddocks freely and therefore fertilize all over. Chicken fertilizer is the top A-grade quality for pastures: it is high in essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.
Nitrogen is what makes the grass green, and the greener the grass, the more photosynthesis can occur; the more photosynthesis, the sweeter the grass. The sweeter the grass, the more lambs like it and they grow faster.
Pastured eggs are good for customers, chickens, grass, lambs, Nature and the Earth.
Brothers planning some new mischief...
The two Maremma sheepdogs, Oddball and Lucky, captured beautifully by Jeremy (https://eventsbymcgrath.com/wedding-photography. Oddball and Lucky are our oldest protector dogs, they were there when the very first eggs were laid. Although they are mature in their behaviour to the chickens, and do their job perfectly well, they enjoy planning some mischief once in a while.
Young female chicks up to a year old are pullets. Young male chicks up to a year old are cockerels. Pullets become hens and cockerels become roosters. They're all chickens and are as sweet by any other name, running all over our green pasture. Just like these two pullets today.
Keeping history alive at Hilltops Free Range egg 'Reynoldsdale' farm: we have kept the copper sign from the first owner, Reynolds, who established the farm; we kept the original first houses which were built on the property. Our office room is now housed in the oldest heritage building, restored and maintained dutifully.
There is an inner timber wall in one of the rooms which we have sealed and preserved in its original state. On it, there are traces of newspapers and articles from 1894 one can read: mostly about shearing news and sheep problems.
Heritage buildings represent the history and culture of a nation. Boorowa was established in 1843 by Irish convicts who after receiving their 'ticket of leave' from the Governor, started farming in the area.
A few months ago, we had a visitor who had played on the farm as a child with the first Reynolds family and their children. She told us wonderful stories about how the place where the egg processing machine now is, used to be a dark and cold alley outside the houses, and they used to hide there while playing hide-and-seek, and she thought it was the scariest place in the world.
That copper sign, the office door, the timber wall, the hiding place stories: they all provide a sense of identity and continuity in a fast changing world for many generations to come. More than eggs, history comes to life at Reynoldsale farm.
Watching one's children grow up, become independent and celebrate each and every milestone: we watched the two puppy Maremma dogs grow up and thrive with their natural talent for guarding, and now they are with their own flock.
Venturing off but will always be connected to our hearts.
Let the grass spring up tall, let its roots sing
And the seeds begin their scattering.
Let the noise of the mower be banished, hurrah!
Let the path become where I choose to walk, and not otherwise established.
Let the goldfinches be furnished their humble dinner.
Let the sparrows determine their homes in security.
Let the honeysuckle reach as high as my window, that it may look in.
Let the mice fill their barns with sufficiency.
Let anything created,
that wants to creep or leap forward, be able to do so.
Let the grasshopper have gliding space.
Let the noise of the mower be banished, yes, yes.
'On Not Mowing the Lawn'
by Mary Oliver, From her book of poems "Blue Horses"
Meet Malcolm - the poddy lamb we are raising at the farm, with everyone helping at all times of the day and night. Malcolm was found on the road and we don't know where his mother is. Among a sea of female chickens, our little boy is growing stronger every day.
He enjoys the sun and already knows very well how to drink from the bottle.
Better eggs come from happy chickens with permanent lives in the outdoors that lead a normal - not overcrowded - social life, and supplement their diet with as much fresh greens as possible.
This is our credo. This is what our chickens look like this afternoon on Hilltops Free Range farm.
The best evidence that our credo results in better eggs comes from our customers: this photo of fantastic three double-yolkers in the breakfast pan was sent by a happy customer.
The gift of a double yolker is usually a young hen’s work, but we like to think of it as joyful surprise package from a happy hen. Statisticians calculate the chance of a double yolker to be about 1 in 1,000, and so our customer can feel truly lucky.
Our chickens love fallen trees: in addition to the green plants full of vitamins and minerals they eat, the chickens peck at fallen trees with their claws and beaks in search of seeds, seedlings, fruits, insects and worms.
A fallen tree becomes a playground and a joyful bubbly gathering the the sun.
Hilltops Free Range is honored to be a Finalist for the Telstra Business Awards 2019!
It is a testament to our belief in the sustainable, rotational innovative farming, in producing the highest quality food for our customers, and our passion for improving the soil for the next generations!
It was especially touching to receive a hand-written congratulations card! Thank you, #telstrabizawards
Training Maremma puppies: a game of patience, dedication and love.
We are training our new lovely puppies by spending one hour per day at first with the chickens, then increasing to two hours, then three hours, and so on.
Two lovely puppies are joining Hilltops Free Range Eggs Farm team: a girl and a boy, and remind us everyday what unconditional true love is.
Meet Judy: The chicken who likes to ride in the Land Cruiser and also lays her egg in the car every day! A brave new chicken-dog breed!
Photography by Juliana and Matteo
How our eggs come to you
Follow news about our free range chickens and the fresh farm eggs we produce.