At a time when egg production and pricing could be a concern due to the bird flu outbreak that has led to the deaths of millions of birds worldwide including chickens and turkeys, opportunities are available to buy local.
John and Ellen Fischer of Desloge operate a farm off Cedar Falls Road that produces a variety of foods including chicken and duck eggs, milk and vegetables, all of which the pair sells.
The couple hatches their own hens in an effort to protect their brood from avian flu, Ellen said. The two do not buy any from anywhere else, she said.
Their birds are free-range.
That means the animals are allowed for the most part to roam freely for food, as opposed to strictly being fed grain, she said. As such, they consume a more varied diet and extra protein in the form of bugs, which leads to higher quality eggs, she said.
Right now, the pair has roughly 75 hens producing a combined total of at least 12 dozen eggs per week.
The Fischers have been selling their eggs for $2.50 a dozen. A dozen organic eggs, which is equivalent to the eggs produced by the Fischers, currently are going for about $5 or more per dozen, Ellen said.
According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service Egg Market News Report dated June 15, the charge for a dozen USDA Grade A and Grade A white eggs in a carton delivered to a grocery store door in the Midwest ranges from $2.37 to $2.45 for extra-large eggs; $2.35 to $2.43 for large eggs and $1.99 to $2.07 for medium eggs.
The price range for a dozen USDA Wholesale Certified Organic brown-shell eggs delivered to a first receiver is as follows: $2.61 to $3.60 for extra-large eggs and $2.30 to $3.50 for large eggs, according to the report. The price range for medium eggs was not available.
None of the figures reflect retail prices charged to consumers.
Those wishing to buy eggs from the Fischers must come out to the farm to make a purchase.
Ellen said more and more people are asking if she and her husband have eggs available. At the same time, those who typically pick up a dozen on a visit have been taking away four or five cartons, she said.
She and her husband are doing what they can to keep up with the increased demand.
John said the farm is producing eggs at top capacity and will continue to do so. If someone is looking to make a purchase and he can not fill the order, he will have it the next day, he said.
The question of whether she and her husband will raise their egg prices in light of the bird flu outbreak and its consequences has been posed frequently as of late, Ellen said. As long as the couple is able to keep its feed costs down, she does not foresee an increase, she said.
John noted that the price of feed overall is rising because more people are starting to raise their own poultry for personal use and to be able to sell what is produced, which is bumping up the demand for feed.
Ellen said those undergoing chemotherapy treatments are sometimes encouraged to eat duck eggs because consuming them is helpful at building white blood cells. They also contain more protein than chicken eggs due to their larger size, she said.
The Fischers sell their duck eggs at a price of about $6 a dozen.
In addition to hens and ducks, the couple currently has three grown Jersey cows, three calves, horses, cats and a dog at the farm.
John raises a variety of items in his garden including yellow and green squash, zucchini, okra, heirloom tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers and romaine lettuce.
He uses no chemicals at his farm. He employs nothing but natural products, he said.
A fifth generation farmer, John said, the food production field is a natural fit for him.
“I do it because I enjoy it,” he said. “It’s just what I’ve always done.”
Ellen said the farm keeps him busy as well.
“He’s a workaholic. When he wakes up, he’s got to do something,” she said. “There’s always something to do on a farm, so it suits him.”
While farming is new to her, she has learned to can foods, make preserves and bake with farm fresh products, she said.
She also makes crafts out of items in abundance on the property. “Whatever there’s too much of, I’ll go on Pinterest and find out what to do with it,” she said.
One of her projects involved making wreaths out of hedge apples, which are all over the property, she said.
John and Ellen has seven children between the two of them and many grandchildren.
For additional information on purchasing items from John and Ellen, call 573-330-2326.
Clementine Carbery is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3616 or firstname.lastname@example.org