I have a rule in my life that my morning alarm should only ever be allowed to go off before 7 am for holidays. Last Wednesday it was set for 04:50 am (wince) but I broke my own rule because I wasn’t off on holiday. Unless you count a day in Tring, Hertfordshire, as a holiday. I have to admit at that unruly hour I was tempted to turn the alarm off and go back to sleep but instead I lugged myself out of bed and got ready for an early morning drive out of Bristol.
After getting a little bit lost, I found my destination – Bulborne Farm and walked into a room full of other bloggers, some familiar and some new faces. We were all there to spend the day as a Happy Egg Co farmer. After a strong cup of tea and a quick chat with everyone, I donned the sexiest of blue overalls and headed out into the fields with farmer JP and the rest of the bloggers.
We learnt a lot about the chickens and how the egg collection process happens. I was surprised to hear that the eggs are packed and stamped by hand, just one way of keeping consistency and quality high. We had time to meet the girls up close and were taught how to hold a chicken – harder than it sounds! It really made me smile to see how they gathered around us whilst we were chatting in the field, very tame and clearly used to humans being around them without seeming like a threat. At one point I had a naughty little chicken pecking at my wellies!
After our morning on the farm, we headed back to base for lunch – cooked by the chefs from London’s Jackson + Rye restaurants. Eggs were on the menu and I wouldn’t have expected anything less. Devilled Egg Canapés followed by Eggs Florentine with Avocado and Huevos Rancheros deliciously spicy with red chillies and chorizo. For pudding, we had a Pecan Tart which was to die for – and I don’t have a sweet tooth. It might sound like a lot but after an early start and lots of walking around the farm, it was exactly what we needed.
The Happy Egg Co came under fire in the press a few months back, someone connected to UKIP published incorrect facts in the Daily Mail—those two names alone ring alarm bells for me—when questioned, our hosts explained clearly and honestly that the story had been riddled with errors and was factually incorrect. Plus, the images used were taken of a coup of chickens being treated for an illness, a fact on which the RSPCA-backed them up. The Daily Mail published an apology online but of course the damage was done. I can only speak from my own experience but what I saw was a lot of very happy, healthy chickens living in very good conditions.
These guys go above what is required for a ‘free-range’ egg. They produce their own feed for the chickens and sponsor a PHD student who’s work focuses on how to make the chickens as happy as possible, through the introduction of toys to stimulate their minds and reduce stress. Each hen house is surrounded by at least 20% trees for shade during the day and hen houses include areas for the chickens to hang out if they don’t fancy the fresh air.