Above: Beautiful green and brown eggs are dwarfed by the huge goose eggs. Both available through Pinwheel Farm in Lawrence.
Want some of the most beautifully colored eggs this Easter, but don’t have time to dye them? No problem, just stop by the Pinwheel Farm in Lawrence, Kansas where you can get a mixed dozen of colors from soft, warm brown to light sage, blue-green and olive. The best part? The chickens do all the work.
I loved the fresh brown eggs we used to get from our neighbor when I was a kid in rural Missouri. The beautiful brown shells and bright orange, firm yolks were almost worth reaching under the chicken for. Almost. The rest of the memory is of pecking beaks and chicken poop, I am likely scarred for life. Not enough to call the 24-hour Alektorophobia hotline, but we chicken-phobes can all rest better knowing operators are standing by to take our call. These days, I like my farm fresh, brown eggs washed and in a carton.
But, green eggs? These I had to see. I called Natalya Lowther to get directions to her farm. I could barely hear with my kiddo screaming in the background. Ms. Lowther was polite. Instead of saying, “My, woman, can you not control that child?!” She said, kindly, “Oh, do you have a little one? She will love the baby lambs.”
Indeed, the whole ride to Lawrence, all we heard were happy shouts of “Bay-Bee Sheep! Bay-Bee Sheep!” My spouse was less excited. As we drove, he expressed his disappointment over the new subdivisions springing up from the once bucolic landscape.
“This used to be all farm, such a beautiful drive.” He said. “Where are all these people coming from? It’s ruined.”
He had a point, but we tried not to let our day be ruined as well.
The Pinwheel Farm was easy to find and very close to downtown Lawrence. Very close. The Pinwheel Farm is one of those small strongholds of local agriculture that has managed to remain despite the growth of the city around it. It’s a struggle, as the houses and more urban landscape encroach, the new zoning often makes keeping a farm running a challenge even though the farm was established first. I hope that the value these fragile family farms offer to their local community is realized and that they can continue to coexist.
We drove up and Ms. Lowther came out to meet us. She had kind eyes of a beautiful light blue that were only rivaled by the pastel shades of her chickens’ eggs. She took us around the farm, showing us how she raises the sheep, chickens, ducks, geese and even a llama. Lowther also raises vegetables as well to sell at the Lawrence farmers’ market. She practices sustainable methods and uses natural fertilizer handily provided by the sheep.
I had done my research to find out more about eggs and shell color, and I learned that shell colors can include pinks, greens, and blues in addition to white and brown. Different breeds of chickens produce different egg colors. This shell color is a result of pigments that are secreted by the hen and deposited on the eggshell's outer layers during formation in the chicken's oviduct. Brown eggs are from the pigment protoporphyrin, a breakdown product of hemoglobin. Blue and green hues are caused by the pigment oocyanin, a by-product of bile formation.
However, there was one thing I had to ask. I was a bit skeptical of some of the information I found from the Egg Nutrition Center. The Center reported that the color of the eggs a chicken lays is related to the species of the chicken and the color of the chicken’s earlobes. Earlobes?
I took a deep breath and asked Ms. Lowther, “Uh, do chickens really have earlobes?” I felt pretty stupid.
Again, Ms. Lowther was kind. “I don’t know,” she laughed. “We’ll have to hold one up and see.” Fortunately for my Alektorophobia, there was no chicken catching done that day. I tried hard to see if I could detect anything that looked like an earlobe from the poultry-free side of the fence.
The eggs were worth the trip. As Lowther handed me a dozen, all I could do was look at them in amazement. Each egg in the carton was a different shade. Soft greens, sage and olive with a few warm brown ones. Nature and Ms. Lowther’s chickens created a perfect Easter basket of color.
The refrigerator held a few more surprises; duck and goose eggs. When I saw the goose eggs, I had to get a half dozen. They are huge and weigh nearly a pound each. I have no idea what I am going to cook with them. I have visions of inviting friends over and having our own local Iron Chef Battle Egg.
We tucked the eggs away safely in the car along with the kiddo. Off we went to Local Burger, however, I could not bring myself to order a lamb burger having just pet one! Back in the car, on the ride home, a sleepy little voice sang out one more time, “Baby Sheep!” It was a beautiful day after all.
You can find the Pinwheel Farm at 1480 N. 1700 Rd. in Lawrence Kansas, or you can purchase Pinwheel Farm products at the Lawrence farmers' market. You can find Natalya Lowther's blog at: www.pinwheelfarm.blogspot.com