Behind the Eggs

Behind the Eggs

If you've ever visited Cornell Farm, you've probably seen, heard, or even fed our little flock of chickens that live onsite. And while you'd be forgiven for thinking they are the source of the eggs we serve in the Cafe, our handful of hens would be hard pressed to keep up with the demand created by the brunch crowd! That's why we're proud to partner with Annie's Eggs of Tillamook, OR, to provide all the farm-fresh eggs that go into our Cafe's out-of-this-world omelettes, benedicts, baked goods, and more.

The wife-and-husband team behind Annie's Eggs — Annie and Cody Schmidlin — recently stopped by Cornell Farm with their three kids to visit our farmhouse flock, and we had a moment to talk with Annie about all things eggs:

What's the story behind Annie's Eggs?

Annie’s Eggs officially began in 2016, although we had a backyard flock for years before that. We started our farm due to our love for chickens and a passion for healthy living, and since then, our flock has grown quite a bit!

How many eggs do you bring to Cornell Farm Cafe each week, and how many chickens does it take to keep up with our appetite for eggs?

We've been delivering to you guys for about 3 years, and we now bring upwards of 100 dozen eggs with us each week. Cornell Farm Cafe isn't our only customer, but you are one of our largest, and to keep a steady stream of eggs coming in, we currently have about 5,000 hens. We also have 300 ducks, and 10 turkeys that are being raised for Thanksgiving.

Your chickens are pasture raised. Can you tell me what that means? What does a day in the life of one of your hens look like?

The USDA has specific requirements to be able to use that label: Pasture raised chickens must be given at least 108 square feet of pasture per hen and live in mobile coops that are rotated throughout the pasture regularly.

Our hens live in coops built from refurbished hay wagons. They are regularly rotated throughout the farm, which is settled on about 35 acres of pasture. Our hens also have 24/7 indoor/outdoor access. So, when the sun comes up, the chickens mosey outside and graze on the pasture for the day: They sun bathe, chase bugs, take dust baths, and enjoy a worry-free lifestyle. They are also guarded by our four great Pyrenees dogs. These dogs provide them constant protections from predators. When the sun begins to set, the hens walk back to their coop and roost for the night. Every day, the chickens are hand tended, fed, and cared for, and we regularly collect the eggs they lay. Afterwards, we wash and package the eggs.

What's the difference between a pasture raised egg and a typical egg you'd find in a grocery store?

Pasture raised eggs are nutrient packed! Some of the benefits include:

  • 1/3 less cholesterol
  • 1/4 less saturated fat
  • 2/3 more vitamin A
  • 2x more omega-3 fatty acids
  • 3x more vitamin E
  • 7x more beta carotene
  • 5x more vitamin D

What is something people may not realize about raising chickens that you think they should know?

One thing people may not realize about raising chickens — or any livestock — is that it is a commitment 7 days a week and 365 days a year, no excuses, just like caring for your children. Even in the worst weather — snow, hail, rain, or shine —  the animals need to be fed, and every other farm chore needs to be done daily. For pasture raised chickens, specifically, that means driving house-to-house and being exposed to the elements for many hours of the day.  

Is there a part of raising chickens as a family that brings you the most satisfaction?

As first-generation farmers, we never experienced this lifestyle growing up. So, it brings us a lot of joy as parents to see our three young kids being raised in this environment. Every day they have the opportunity to learn about responsibility. They are able to watch as your small daily chores add up to the blessings of food — from weekly grain pick-ups to daily bucket filling, egg collecting, egg washing and packaging, delivering eggs multiple times a week, and so much more. And we wouldn't have it any other way!

Annie's Eggs is one of many local, family-run farms and growers that supply Cornell Farm Cafe with our fresh produce, dairy, eggs, proteins, and more. We're proud to transform those high-quality ingredients into delicious dishes day-in and day-out. See what we're serving up on our most current menu here.