Sonoma County Egg Hunt: I Brake for Fresh Farm Eggs
- Melanie Wong Mar 23, 2013 05:29 PM
Over the past year or so, I’ve made a point to stop whenever I see a roadside sign offering “Eggs” along the back roads of Sonoma County. I’m spotting them with increasing frequency and more will be coming on line in the future, I’m sure. Many are individual homemakers rather than commercial farmers who are sharing a dozen or two from their pets. Because of this, supply can be variable or they sell out quickly on weekends, so I might not make a special trip just for eggs. But as you’re exploring the farm trails and wine roads of Sonoma County, this is one more agricultural product to add to your local foods shopping list.
They’re all on the honor system, so far, with a cigar box equivalent to leave cash payments. Prices range from $3 to $6 per dozen. Help yourself to the eggs from the refrigerator, and recycle your empty cartons for re-use.
Previous thread on Pastured Eggs in Sonoma County
Dateline: March 21 and Jan 19, 2013
Corner of Minnie St and Geyserville Ave on Geyserville, just a couple blocks from the tasting rooms. Go up the stairs to the second story to the fridge on the porch.
The eggs are all various shades of brown. The size of the eggs has increased between January to now. With 30+ hens, supply is greater here than many. There were four cartons of eggs in the fridge when I stopped by yesterday.
$4 per dozen
Dateline: March 9, 2013
Rancho Bella Vista, 3900 Petaluma Hill Rd, Santa Rosa
I was driving northward from Bud's Custom Meats, saw the sign on the other side of the road, and made a u-turn. This is north of the Crane Melon Barn and not too far south of the Santa Rosa city limits sign. The watch dog barked loudly from behind the gate and a woman came out to greet me. I didn't get to see the hens, but she assured me that they go outside during the day and stay in a coop at night. She also suggested that I call ahead, 707-535-6075, to reserve eggs. The hens are producing about four dozen a day currently, and she expects to have about 10 dozen daily by summer time.
This is also a blackberry farm. My carton is the prettiest array of egg colors I've run across. Just in time for Easter.
$4 per dozen
Dateline: February 10, 2013
Grandma's Pumpkin Patch, 17740 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg (off Lytton Springs Road exit from 101)
The most reliable source of supply. The eggs are also sold at local stores and the Windsor farmers market on Sundays. My post from 2009.
The eggs were mediums in February.
$3.50 per dozen
Dateline: January 26, 2013
Coleman Valley Ranch, 17220 Coleman Valley Road, Occidental
Quite far east from the town of Occidental, we stopped here on the way back from Bodega Bay. My friend was actually taking me to 17875 Coleman Valley Rd where she's purchased eggs before. But we drove by and there was no sign nor cooler by that driveway.
Luckily we spotted an egg sign at another property a little farther up the road and stopped to take a look. The property is beautiful, a historic ranch with three buildings designated as landmarks. Take some time to admire the main house, barn, and adjoining schoolhouse when you have a chance to visit.
The small cooler was empty but I went up to the house and asked if there might be more eggs. The caretaker said she'd check the henhouse and I asked if I could go with her. The laying box had exactly one dozen eggs. They were still warm, the freshest I've ever found, and I asked to take them as is, not washed.
The hens were already inside for the night. She said that they're outside when she works outdoors and that they have to be protected from coyotes and raptors.
The plant starts for a garden were in, and the caretaker said they're thinking of putting up a farmstand this summer with vegetables and their own meat.
$5 per dozen
Dateline: August 26, 2012
Barrett Farms, Finley Farmers Market @ Steele Winery near Kelseyville (Lake County)
Even further north in Lake County, I spotted these guinea fowl eggs at the Saturday morning farmers market in Finley. They're raised by Barrett Farms, just a little down the road. I was invited to stop by the farm but didn't have time that day.
The owner laughed when I asked if the guinea fowl were free-range. He said they range all over the place, tree tops, roof lines, wherever they want. Later I had a chance to ask a friend about this and he said that guineas are foul tempered and do whatever they please.
The guinea fowl eggs have very hard shells. I had a hard time cracking them without breaking the yolks too from applying so much pressure.
Barrett Farms also sells at the Marin Civic Center farmers market.
$5.50 per dozen
The flavor is about the same as a chicken egg but skewed to the richer side. To me, there seemed to be far less egg white, so the richness of the yolk is more prominent.
This is as lovely farmers market, nestled in the vineyards, if you happen to be up that way on a summer Saturday. Small, but very complete with meat and dairy too, as well as local fruits and vegetables. I bought the best melon I had last year there, as well as fresh pimentos, and gigantic onions that kept beautifully till now (used the last one yesterday), all things that would be ok in the car during the heat of the day.
Dateline: July 20, 2012
Devon's Hens, 4690 Stony Point Rd, Santa Rosa (north of Rohnert Park Expressway)
A brightly colored sign for "Organic Eggs" catches the eye along this busy road. The day I stopped, the hens were enjoying the shade on the deck behind the house. The owner said they stay in the coop at night. Besides what they can scratch, they also eat non-soy, organic commercial chicken feed.
Summer time production's two or three dozen a day. The eggs are kept in the cooler by the front door. The owner said she takes the sign down when sold out and they do sell out daily.
$5 per dozen
Dateline: July 20, 2012
6235 Old Lakeville Road No. 2, Petaluma
Until I saw the egg sign and looked up at the street signs to get my bearings, I didn't know there was a street called Old Lakeville Road No. 2.
Three little dogs ran out when I pulled in, yapping up a storm and I wasn't sure I should get out of the car. However, they backed up when I opened the car door and kept barking from a comfortable distance. The hens retreated from their open air pen to the hen house when the racket started, so no chicken photo opp.
The refrigerator had quite a few cartons and a flat, making me wonder how fresh these might be. But this was needless. With houseguests arriving for the weekend, I bought eggs from two places. I set up a blind tasting for my visitors, serving these and Devon's sunnyside up. These eggs won the taste-off unanimously. The least expensive eggs beat the most expensive ones.
$3 per dozen
Dateline: June 22, 2012
Pelikan Spring Farm, 320 Furlong Road, Sebastopol
Pointed here by a brightly colored "EGGS" sign posted on the Bodega Highway, this turned out to be a combination art gallery, wind chime store, and egg seller. All unattended. Some of the mammoth wind chimes made of barrel hoops were quite impressive to behold. There were no chickens in the vicinity.
The eggs may have been a few days old, as the whites were quite thin and the flavor did not pop as much as eggs from the other sources.
$5 per dozen
Dateline: October 12 and June 15, 2012
Davis Family Ludwig Avenue Farm, 1211 Ludwig Ave, Santa Rosa
Some may remember Mr Davis from the Berkeley or Santa Rosa farmers markets. He's in poor health, but his family continues egg and poultry farming and also has some vegetables during the summer time. The hens were in a coop with an outside pen.
In June, I asked for all blue Araucana eggs. These were $4 per dozen, gathered that day, and won the blind tasting unanimously.
In October, I also bought duck eggs. The price for chicken eggs had gone up to $6 per dozen due to feed costs. Two of 12 of the hen eggs turned out to be spoiled. The duck eggs had a metallic aftertaste.
$6 per dozen
Dateline: June 15, 2012
Ryan Family Farm, 5075 Todd Rd, Sebastopol
Just a few hens here, production is about two or three dozen a day. The eggs I purchased were gathered the day before. When I asked what "fresh" means here, the owners said that anything more than five days old they use themselves and/or feed to the dogs. While it lost the taste-off vote by my house guests, these are still above average farm eggs and better than what I can buy at the supermarket.
$4 per dozen
Dateline: June 1, 2012
Karen Sue's Farm Fresh Eggs, 30631 River Road, Cloverdale
I purchased these pasture-raised eggs from owner Karen Tankersley's booth at the Friday night farmers market in Cloverdale. Size seemed to be a mix of mediums and larges. Flavor was not as rich as I would have expected, but I might buy them again when I have a chance to visit the farm.
$5 per dozen
Dateline: April 27, 2013
Following up the rec from "xanadude", I called the number for Warner Ranch when I was about an hour away to arrange for pick-up. The eggs were left outside the gate for me. I was pleased that I could easily see the hens on pasture from my side of the fence. The dogs in the yard noticed me and came closer with tails wagging but never barked. $4 per dozen or $5 per flat of 18, mixed sizes.
I cooked one egg tonight to try immediately, the olive green one on the right in the upper row. Very good quality and flavor, bright orange rich yolk, brilliant chalky white that was dense as can be.
re: maria lorraine
Thanks! I fried two of the smaller size Warner Ranch eggs this morning for breakfast, selecting a white and a beige one to be sure they're from a different hen than yesterday's sampling. These were consistent with the other. The quality of the thick whites deserves more praise, these hardly spread in the pan, setting up about 1/3" high when cooked and the flavor has a minerally flourish, almost don't need salt.
These are not quite at the excellence of the eggs I've purchased from Hector's Honey or Green Strings Farm, but that may be a seasonal difference. And the price is half the amount. These are the value leader.
I started this thread because many folks don't know how to get started with incorporating more locally produced food into their diets and budgets. I think that eggs can be a good jumping off point.
Dateline: April 6, 2013
Singing Frog farm of Sebastopol, purchased at the Saturday morning Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market.
$7/dozen, pastured. The yolks were a shade more orange than most of the eggs I've been buying but were not tops in taste. Based on the one-month from packing best buy date, these would be at least three days old, perhaps accounting for the drop off in flavor.
Dateline: April 19, 2013
Tara Firma Farms 3796 I St Petaluma, CA
Recognized the name of the farm when I detoured on this back road to get off of 101, so stopped in to take a look around and buy some eggs. Since no one was in the farm shop, I kept walking until someone saw me. I asked to see the hens and was pointed out yonder with a caution that they might have been moved out of view. After passing all of the farm structures and not catching a glimpse of chickens or hearing any, I went back to the store. But I did get to see the pastured hogs and the new piglets along the way.
Eggs from pastured hens are $8 per dozen. They're unwashed and I was told they'd been gathered in the last two days.
So far I've used eight of the eggs. Only two had yolks that I'd consider into the orange range, the others were lemony yellow. None of the yolks have the round, perky, height of high quality fresh eggs, rather they've been flattish and break easily. The whites don't have much character and the yolks taste bland. These are the most disappointing eggs I've had in this series and also the most expensive ones.
I did buy some chicken feet and necks while there to make stock and the result was quite satisfactory.
I hope that you and others will add to the egg hunt as you travel the byways of Sonoma County and post new finds.
For Q1, I'm becoming more convinced that egg freshness can trump some of the other animal husbandry factors that go into raising happy chickens and quality eggs. I've had two producers of pastured eggs --- Singing Frog and Tara Firma --- tell me that their eggs are superior to those from chickens raised in a pen. I can tell you that they are not, and since their eggs showed signs of being less fresh than others I've purchased, all the benefits of expensive pasturing did not contribute to better flavor. There are also seasonal differences that created difference in flavor and size, so consider the time of year I tried eggs from each source plays a part too.
Forced to rank these eggs so far by flavor, I'd put Warner Ranch on top, very close behind would be Rancho Bellavista and Coleman Valley Ranch in second place, then the spots in Geyserville and out on Old Lakeville Road. I'll add that Bellavista's dozen were the heaviest of all of them, just by hefting the box, noticeably heavier. And Bellavista's eggs held up a long time. I hard-cooked the last four eggs 6+ weeks after purchase. First I checked to see if they'd float in water --- nope, still sank to the bottom, and once shelled, had barely any air pocket.
As far as Q2, in his higher wisdom, xanadude chose not to post the address and phone number for Warner Ranch. I'll respect his decision, and also because its website does not include an address, so let's respect their privacy. You can refer to the craigslist link. It's on Guerneville Rd near Olivet.
Dateline: May 5, 2013
Wise Acre Farm, 631 Arata Lane, Windsor
This producer of pasture-raised eggs of the many I've visited to date may have the singular distinction of being the subject of a Sunday sermon.
It's had other press coverage as well.
When I stopped there, no chickens were in sight, only a few curious goats. A large cooler held small (in flats), large, and extra large eggs. Checking the best buy dates, the large eggs were a week older than the extra large ones, so I shelled out the $8/dozen for the bigger size.
So far, four of the first five eggs of the dozen have been double-yolked, so I'm glad I bought the XLs. This phenomenon is more common in spring, so this is the time to buy here. The yolks had strong orange color though they're not as high and perky as fresher specimens or perhaps the doubling makes them flatter. The whites cook up to a dense texture and chalky brilliant white color. These eggs have a very rich, rounded, almost buttery flavor.
They're pricey, but I'm much happier with these than the purchases from Singing Frog or Tara Firma.
Small, $7/flat of 30
There are few commercial producers available at retail markets that I'll buy from anymore. Red Hill and Alexandre Kids are two off the top of my head. Expensive though $8/dozen.
Recently, I've been using "backyard" egg farms that I find on craigslist or word of mouth. Eggs aren't uniformly sized, but they will be FRESH and the hens are well cared for.
I'm starting to get the feeling that backyard producers, the ones that have just a few dozen to sell each day, are the way to get really fresh eggs. Though I wouldn't call them "large", the ones that have enough to sell at farmers markets or in retail distribution channels don't taste as fresh to me. I think that Saturday may be the worst day to buy eggs, as they've been saved up through the week. Maybe Mondays are better.
Very cool thread, Melanie Wong.
Thanks for the research. I'll hopefully reap the benefits in August.
Dateline: May 11, 2013
Two Rock Valley
755 Tomales Rd Petaluma, CA 94952 (707) 766-7171
I called ahead a few hours before the time I'd be passing by to ask if any pastured eggs were available. The lady said to come by, she had some for me, $6/dozen. But when I arrived, there was no human anywhere around and after looking around the perimeter of the house, in the barn, and around the sheds, none had been left anywhere. Something must have come up suddenly as the sliding door to the house was unlocked and I could see a cell phone left on the kitchen counter.
Anyway, I had a nice self-tour of the property accompanied by some friendly white sheep dogs and followed around some free-roaming chickens. Canvas Ranch has not only chickens, but also sheep and exotic looking cashmere goats, as well as a vegetable patch. I'll need to return another time.
Dateline: May 11, 2013
Hands Full Farm, 30901 Hwy 1, Valley Ford, CA
After striking out at Canvas Ranch, I decided to keep heading toward the coast. I cruised through the town of Tomales then drove north on Highway 1. Before I reached the hamlet of Valley Ford, I spotted another egg sign at Erickson Ranch aka Hands Full Farm.
The hens are out on pasture right by the road and there was a large hen house further up the hill. The flock has the cutest blue trailer to hang out in.
The eggs were in a cooler in a self-serve honor egg house. They're $6/dozen and very good quality. The farm also sells at selected farmers markets.
Dateline: June 30, 2013
Healdsburg Farm Fresh Eggs & Produce
Saturday - Healdsburg farmers market
Sunday - West End farmers market in Santa Rosa
Not the brightest idea I've ever had, I couldn't wait to check out Santa Rosa's newest farmers market in the West End even if it was a sweltering 102 degrees. I'd purchased pastured eggs from this farm in Dry Creek Valley a few years ago. He was willing to sell a half-dozen for $3 --- Sold!
The eggs had decent flavor, but nearly all the yolks broke when they hit the pan. The following week, 4th of July weekend, I asked my house guests to pick up eggs from Warner Ranch, noted earlier and one of my favorites. Warner's were very fresh but had the same problem. I suspect that a week of abnormally high temperatures might have stressed the birds and affected egg quality. So the jury's out on these and I'll need to try them again.
Dateline: August 25, 2013
Russian River Valley Produce aka Castelli-Knight Ranch
400 Grapevine Lane, Healdsburg, CA
Already sold out of eggs at her Sunday farmers market booth in Windsor, Sheri encouraged me to call ahead to reserve eggs. Instead I phoned a little later that day after completing errands and planning to pass by. I dropped by the vineyard and she found the first seven eggs to be laid since her morning gathering. I paid $3 for them.
Some of the freshest I've had, the eggs were good. The yolks did not have the richness of the best ones.
re: Melanie Wong
Melanie, how do you assess the freshness/ richness/ goodness of the yolks? do you cook it certain way first, or have some inspection criteria?
My favorite vendor is perpetually out of eggs at the farmer's market, and the alternatives available are only ok from a taste, thickness and color perspective.
I cook eggs sunnyside up. I melt butter or coconut oil in the pan, then turn off the heat before I add the eggs. I'll turn up the heat again when the cooking slows down and turn it off again as needed to avoid toughening the egg. Then I baste the egg with a little of the melted fat to heat the top of the yolk.
I judge freshness by the appearance of the yolk and white. The yolk of a newly laid egg will be compact, sits up round and erect and does not spread or flatten out. The white has a thick compact quality to it with a little bit of watery part that trails when you crack it in the pan. An older egg has a more uniform and not as thick white.
Richness is just how intense the taste of the yolk is. Oh, and absence of off-flavors. Some eggs have a metallic taste to them, some are kind of fish. I try not to be influenced by how deeply colored the yolks are, but that's impossible to do completely.
re: Melanie Wong
I make eggs in a similar way. I make them every morning. I use a little Griswold cast iron skillet. I turn the heat on the lowest setting and add some Partanna olive oil and a small pinch of red chile flakes. Then I add the eggs and cook them on low until they start to set. Then I add some freshly ground black pepper and salt and baste them. I serve them so the yolks are still runny.
Lately I have been alternating between Marin Sun Farms and Vital farms Verde pasture eggs and sometimes Pete and Gerry’s Heirloom Ameraucana Eggs.
My husband has the BEST recipe for scrambled eggs that he makes on the weekend. Based on a Gordon Ramsey recipe. You cook the eggs on low heat and alternate between having the pan on the heat and off so the eggs cook very slowly. You stir the entire time and it takes almost a half hour till the eggs are ready. The eggs come out creamy and velvety smooth. The texture and flavor are very different than regular scrambled eggs.
Dateline: September 21, 2013
Alexander Valley Farms
8644 Hwy 128, Healdsburg, CA
Not sure why, but this was my first visit to the Saturday morning farmers market in Healdsburg this season. Hank Wetzel of Alexander Valley Vineyards was set up again and selling eggs from pasture raised chickens. He said he has 150 hens that have the run of the vineyards, trimming down the cover crop and keeping bugs down.
The eggs are $5/dozen and looked to be Large size and bigger. These had been gathered over the previous three days. They're very good quality with intense flavor and buttery yolks. And the price is on the low side for pastured eggs too.
"Enormous Loquats Grown by Hank Wetzel (Healdsburg)"
Dateline: October 19, 2013
McClelland's Dairy and Pumpkin Patch
6475 Bodega Avenue
Petaluma, CA 94952
The chickens at McClelland's are pastured on certified organic grass with the dairy cattle. The eggs are $8/dozen.
All the cartons in the refrigerator at the farm store had the same 291 Julian date, indicating that they were packed on October 18. My carton included a mix of colors and a range of sizes from medium to extra large.
The four eggs I cooked over the weekend were very fresh with perky orange-colored yolks and dense whites. The flavor of the yolks seemed extra rich, tasting of fresh cream. The eggs were excellent.
McClelland's is known for its artisanal butter. Maybe it should be famous for eggs too.
Love this thread - though most are a little far away from here in Sonoma Valley.
Have you tried Swede's Feeds on H'way 12 in kenwood? It's a garden/pet food etc store along the highway almost opposite VJB's winery villa
They have some hens on site - not pasture - but eggs are great. Bright orange yellow yolks, very mixed sizes and colors as they are mixed breeds. $5/doz
Shoot, saw this too late. I was in Glen Ellen Saturday and drove there along Bennett Valley Rd and Warm Springs, but no egg signs on that route. I would have picked up some from Swede's Feeds. Last week I drove the length of Arnold Drive on my way back to the City, but no egg sightings that route either.
re: Melanie Wong
There is also a place on Watmaugh Road, just off Arnold. Going north on Arnold you turn left onto Watmaugh at the traffic lights where Strawberry Patch is. it's about 1/4 mile down there on left. Can't remember the name but they also have little pumpkin patch. Eggs are usually in an honor bar fridge at rear of premises - cash only.
The hens are housed right there - again not pasture and I've never seen anyone to get more info.
i've also seen signs but not investiagted a farm just opposite Viansa Winery
Dateline: November 9, 2013
Konecny residence, 7520 Apple Wood Lane (off Bloomfield Road), Sebastopol
The Rhode Island Reds produce ~14 eggs a day during the fall. They have the run of the backyard. $5 per dozen, the eggs were gathered the day before.
These had some of the deepest hued orange yolks I've seen. Though they looked incredibly rich, the flavor intensity was average . . . so maybe I'm not as influenced by color as I'd feared.
Dateline: November 16, 2013
Dolcini's Red Hill Ranch & Chi'ken City by Kitty, 6970 Point Reyes - Petaluma Rd, Petaluma in Hicks Valley, (707)762-1132. I drove by here on my way south to not far away Marin-French Cheese.
Red Hill Ranch's known for grassfed cattle. It's honor box farmstand sells produce and pastured eggs. Large eggs were $8 per dozen. The hens were not nearby to be observed.
The eggs were rich and full flavored. Up there with McClelland's and Wise Acre in taste.
Dateline: November 23, 2013
Private residence at 955 Hurlbut Ave., Sebastopol, 707-303-6041 via a tip from chocolateninja. It's on a quiet country lane that I would otherwise never have passed through.
The phone number is from the sign but the guy said his phone is broken. Pull into semicircle driveway. When you're facing the house, go around the left side. There's a gray tool cabinet by the back door. Eggs are in bottom drawer, put money in next drawer up. There were three dozen when I was there. I was told that some are double yolks, but I didn't get any in my box.
This was a wet and muddy day (remember those?). The chickens were scratching in a large pen behind the house. The eggs were very good but just shy of the rich flavor of my favorites.