I'm heading out to Orcas Island tomorrow...with a lovely case of strep throat. (Hopefully with a good night's rest...the antibiotics will kick in soon!)
Until I can share a report about Orcas, I found this post in my draft folder. I'd written it earlier this spring...and for some reason, never activated it. Here's a fun look at Seabreeze Farm over on Vashon Island....just a short 20 minute ferry ride from West Seattle.
Oh how I love a field trip....
Each month, Seattle Metropolitan Magazine features a series on the chef/farmer connection. Since Chef uses a ton of duck eggs, we trekked out to Seabreeze Farm for a visit. Joining us was a writer from the magazine and an amazing photographer, Amos Morgan.
For the most part, I made myself scarce...and ended up meeting the staff. I walked in on ateam of 2...skimming cream off raw milk...and had my first taste of unpasteurized milk. Wow. It's incredible! They made cheese with the rest of the milk, and creme fraiche with the cream.
I chatted it up with Charlie, who was making leather out of a calf hide (see photo). As he explained, one of their calves broke loose and got hit by a car. With sustainability in mind, he decided to strip the hide and thanks to the internet, taught himself how to make leather. Charlie described the process and when we met, he was in the middle of a multi-day project. The hide had been stripped and soaked and that day, he was removing the hair and epidermis. Charlie was especially proud of the tool he made--fashioned from hardware store supplies for mere pennies. On the weekends, you can catch up with Charlie at the local farmer's markets, selling Seabreeze eggs and cheese.
The farm itself is filled with free range chickens, ducks, and geese. Apparently this was the season where chickens were looking for any space to lay eggs. Farmer George mentioned he'd find chickens in his office, in the car...or in this case...nesting on a sack of coffee beans.
See that chicken photo? I plucked my first egg out from under her. I used my shoe as a decoy (so it would peck that instead of my hand), then I carefully reached under...and grabbed her leg! Duh. I finally found the egg and pulled it out. It was still warm and flecked with soft pillowy feathers from the nest...amazing.
Another interesting thing...I asked George if he had issues with eagles...which are somewhat frequent sightings out on the island. Apparently not. They have problems with crows and hawks. They'll attack a chicken and eat the grain stored in its throat, the gullet, and pluck through and eat the liver...and leave the rest of the bird to decay. The eagles at least eat the whole bird. The crows and hawks actually will kill many more birds because they eat less of them.
It was a wonderful early spring day out on the island...and a pleasure to meet George, Charlie and the rest of the crew. If you get a chance to head out to Vashon Island, look up Seabreeze Farm. At the edge of their property, they run a flourishing farmstand where you can select your own farm fresh eggs and cheeses. Next to the cooler is a small table. There, you can list your purchases and put cash in the jar. Payment here...is on the honor system.
The official Seabreeze Farm/Duck Egg article was featured in the April issue of Seattle Metropolitan Magazine.