Holidays On The Urban Farm | Civil Eats

Holidays On The Urban Farm

I’m an eggnog addict. No joke. If there was a 12-step program for virgin eggnogaholics, I’d be its premier member. My addiction is such a problem that I wait until after Thanksgiving to begin consuming the luscious sweet creaminess, even though I know it appears on supermarket shelves around Halloween. My favorite brand–and believe me I’ve tried them all–is Clover’s Organic Eggnog. It has just the right blend of thickness, creaminess, and spice. At five dollars a quart for organic, that’s one pricey habit. So this year, having raised goats and chickens, I figured I was supporting an eggnog factory in my backyard. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

How the tradition of eggnog as a Christmastime beverage came about (prior to the invention of electricity), is beyond me. As I’ve come to find out on an urban farm, chickens don’t lay eggs as daylight diminishes and winter sets in. While our chickens began their laying careers right around the 25th of December in 2009, the following year was a whole different ball game.

In the fall of this year, our ladies entered their first molt, in which they lost all of their feathers and more closely resembled poorly plucked dinner roasts than actual live creatures. The animal yard looked like the aftermath of a raccoon attack. The hens, for once, were silent. And there were no eggs. For months.

After the girls started to feather out again, I waited–with the patience of a six-year-old holding out for Santa on Christmas Eve–for the eggs to start reappearing in the nest. And I would continue to wait.

Thanksgiving came and went and still, no eggs. Now that we had oodles of milk coming in with our doe, Lucy, having kidded in August, where were my freakin’ eggs? It was looking like I would end up with a desolate holiday season, deprived of glugs of eggnog in my coffee or tea, warmed cups before bedtime, or cold, frosty afternoon indulgences. I was devastated.

Though determined to make my own eggnog this year, seeing I had all of the potential producers, I just couldn’t stoop to buying eggs at the store or farmer’s market. Wasn’t this the reason I had started this crazy venture in the first place? How could I purchase what I should have in my own backyard? The thought was unbearable. After nearly two years of daily care for these creatures, I wanted the goods.

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Then I remembered that extending the amount of light that the hens get each day could get them back on track. So I stuck a light on in the coop and within a week all of my girls were doing right by me. Now with the girls back on the job and the milk continuing to flow in, I’m on a quest for the perfect eggnog. If you have a recipe for an out-of-this-world non-alcoholic eggnog, please send it to me. I’d be most grateful.

May your garden be bountiful, your milk cup runneth over, and your eggs plentiful. You can take that literally or figuratively, whichever applies, but may your nog last you through the new year.

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Heidi Kooy is a former anthropologist turned small business owner and urban homesteading enthusiast. When she is not busy sewing for her handmade craft business, Pie Dough Productions, or bossing around workers for her construction contracting business, she is enjoying organic gardening, cooking, canning, preserving, and tending to her collection of small livestock. Her city farming adventures are detailed in her blog, Itty Bitty Farm in the City. She is also a member of the San Francisco School Food Coalition, an organization dedicated to improving school lunches for San Francisco public schools. Read more >

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  1. Love this post Heidi. You are an amazing writer.

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