Monday, December 15, 2008

Backyard Hens Make Better Yolks

As a kid we had chickens and we had fresh eggs. As far as I can remember, I always liked eating eggs, whether they be scrambled, poached, soft boiled, hard boiled, they were (and are) a tasty food. My grandmother also raised chickens from which she made the best scrambled eggs in the world. They were always a bright yellow and tasted oh so creamy.

Over the years I became accustomed to grocery store eggs. They seemed perfectly good, although my omelets and scrambled dishes never tasted quite as good as I remembered. For many years I attributed this to the superior cooking skills of my mom and my grandmother. And, then I came across local farm fresh eggs just a few miles from our home.

The eggs on the left have been marked with a "V" and are Cage Free Large Brown Eggs from Organic Valley. Prior to coming across Ollin Farms our family either bought eggs from Organic Valley or from Nest Fresh. The eggs on the right are from Ollin Farms and marked with an "O". As egg companies go, Nest Fresh is pretty close to ideal. They are Certified Humane and fed a vegetarian and organic diet; however, from this comparison it is clear their eggs continue to miss something in the diet of real farm eggs (and Backyard Eggs).

The first time I cracked open an egg from Ollin Farms, I was in awe of its rich golden (in fact deep orange) hue. I scrambled a few up for the best omelet in ages. I was hooked and so was my toddler son! Not only are Ollin's eggs very tasty, but I have also visited their hens, which have a large outside enclosure. I know that for a fact that their chickens are happy with space to run, forage, eat a grub or two and some grass, in addition to their carefully selected chicken feed.

Over the last few months I’ve mentioned the difference in color to many people. Unfortunately, everyone except my grandmother, who has almost 90 years of hen raising experience, looks at me in disbelief when I mention the rich yellow orange color of Ollin's eggs, so I decided to document the difference.

Pictured above you see on the left a Cage Free Organic Egg provided by Organic Valley. On the right you see an almost urban egg farm egg from Ollin. You’ll note that the yolk from the Ollin egg is not only deeper in color, it is also much larger.

In this last photo the Ollin eggs are on the right and the Organic Valley on the left. You’ll again note the difference in color and the increased size of the yolks in the Ollin Eggs. The Organic Valley eggs are much more uniform in size and they just don’t measure up to old fashioned free roaming eggs raised on a small scale!

With access to locally raised eggs, such as those from Ollin, you might wonder why I or anyone else might want to raise his or her own backyard hens. For one, raising several hens can be pleasurable work as the hens, like many pets, often become part of the family! Furthermore, here in Longmont we have very alkaline and clay soil. Folks who like to keep hens also often like to garden. Personally, I would be thrilled to have access to a regular supply of free Chick a Poo fertilizer to compost and add to my soil!

Lastly, although there are several local purveyors of farm fresh eggs, supply cannot keep up with demand. Over the summer months I have access to at least 3 different options for egg buying, but only on certain days and they all sell out within a few hours of opening. In the winter months Ollin is the only place I know of to get eggs, but Mark himself has said he could probably run a business on eggs alone and still not keep up with demand!

In conclusion, there are those of us who appreciate nutritious and good tasting food and the welfare of animals, while also desiring to increase our self-sufficiency and shorten the distance of our food from farm to table. With this in mind, we ask you to attend Eggs on the Table this Thursday at the Longmont Public Library. And (or) seek us out to sign the petition showing your support to the Longmont City Council.


  1. Hi,

    I live in Longmont as well and was wondering about keeping chickens in my backyard. It looks like you've already done some leg-work on this. Are chickens allowed as pets in Longmont? If not, I'd be happy to sign your petition. I have a few friends who would do so as well. I'd also be willing to go door to door and collect signatures/hand out literature, if that would help.

    Best of Luck,

  2. Sorry I couldn't get my info on that last post. You can reach me at