Pasture-Raised Eggs Made Easy!

imagesIf you’ve ever tried our pastured-raised eggs, you know how eggcellent they are. Bright orange yolks; sturdy, perfect-for-hardboiling shells; and uncommonly good taste. But have you ever wondered what goes into pasture-raising? Or wanted to try doing it yourself?

Although the practice of pasture-raising has yet to be formally defined, it’s generally agreed to signify a few crucial things. First, the animal is free to spend his/her days roaming spacious plots. Second, a significant portion of the animal’s diet comes from the live worms, grubs, seeds, and grasses foraged on that plot. And third, the plot must be organically certified.

First, in order to ensure that the birds receive adequate natural nutrition, you will need to construct a movable coop—sometimes called a “chicken tractor”. Not only will this afford the hens ample fresh pasture, it’ll also serve as a natural means of controlling weeds and insects, as well as providing natural fertilizer in the form of manure. Examples of movable chicken coop can be found here.

After you’ve constructed your coop, you’ll need to choose which breeds best suit your situation. An average chick costs around $2, with adults clocking in around $40. The breed’s temperament, its adaptability to confinement, how noisy it is, and the size eggs it lays are all factors you’ll want to consider. Certain breeds fare better in hotter climates; others prefer cold. A few versatile varieties include the Rhode Island Red, the Leghorn, the Buff Orpington, the Black Star, and the Ameracauna. PawNation has a great page about breed selection.

Now that you have your land, coop, and birds, you’ll need to consider supplementary nutrition. True, pasture-raised hens derive much of their diet from the pasture they feed on, but they will absolutely need feed, especially in the winter. Feed can be purchased at a local feed store, or, if you have enough acreage, home-grown!

Of course, you’ll also need to regularly check your birds for health, providing them with plenty of fresh water, and keeping their living areas clean. Keeping them safe from predators and ensuring environmental sustainability are other important concerns.

downloadSo what are you waiting for? Go get some chicks and get started!

By | February 27th, 2015|News|0 Comments

A Brief (and Interesting) History of Rice!

rice bagEver since we at Blue Moon started growing our own rice, I’ve found myself wondering about its history. Where did it originate? How long have we been cultivating it? What makes it so special? Rice, it turns out, is a fascinating crop—and not only because of its history.

When you get right down to it, rice is basically a seed—a grass seed.  There are two major types of rice: Indica and Japonica. Indica is the non-sticky, flakey, long-grained variety; Japonica is the sticky, short-grained variety. Basmati and jasmine are two well-known indica rices; sushi rice and Arborio are two well-known Japonica varieties. Indicas are generally grown near the equator, the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, etc. Japonicas, on the other hand, are grown in temperate and mountainous regions, including Japan and Korea.

According to Chinese legends, rice domestication began under Chinese Emperor Shennong, the inventor of Chinese Agriculture. (Though from what we know about emperors’ propensity for self-aggrandizement, we would do well to assume it was invented by one of his minions!) More reliable genetic evidence shows that rice originates from a single domestication some 8,200 to 13,500 years ago, in China’s Pearl River valley region. From there, it was introduced to Europe, and later the Americas.

These days, rice plays an enormous role in global nutrition. It’s the staple food for over half the world’s population, providing 20% of total global dietary energy supply. It provides more than one fifth of calories consumed by human beings. And it’s the agricultural commodity with the third-highest worldwide production, after sugarcane and maize. All of which is to say that rice is a pretty big deal!

Rice’s history is a long and interesting one, and we at Blue Moon Acres are humbled to play a small part in its future.

rice field

 

By | February 13th, 2015|News|0 Comments

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