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we like it wild: fresh eggs

by Grace Bonney

Right now, in between bouts of rain, we’re dreaming of whiling away an uninterrupted afternoon in the early summer sun digging through dirt and loosening root balls. For most of us a garden means flowers, for some it may mean fresh fruits and vegetables. For a select few, working in their garden may be more akin to working on a small-scale farm complete with barnyard animals. We visited one such hard-working garden this week on our search for Easter inspiration.

Dary lives in Novato, a woodsy enclave in Marin County not far from San Francisco, and in addition to growing tons of veggies and wonderful cutting garden, she is also a mother hen to about 20 chickens. Producing one to two eggs a night, Dary’s chickens produce plenty of eggs to go around the neighborhood, so she was happy to share some of her clutch with us for this weeks post, as well as show us around the coop. Lucky for us, there were even a few hatchlings to play with. So cute!

Here’s a guide to Dary’s garden chickens: Jersey Giants are the black and white chicks, the yellowy-orange gals are Buff Orpingtons, the browns and whites are Red Sex-links, the brown-orange are Rhode Island Reds, and the black and browns are Araucanas. All these chickens lay lovely large brown eggs, except for the Araucanas, who (as any Martha fan can tell you) lay beautiful pale blue eggs. Although the outside colors are lovely, it’s what’s inside that’s the real treat. Homegrown eggs have richer yolks and thicker whites adding extra deliciousness to omelets, cakes, and other dishes.

Instead of dyeing our eggs we decided to turn them into mini vases for a springtime tabletop display. Just gently take off the top of your egg by tapping it on the edge of a bowl, then pour out the yolk and white to use later (we recommend making a Spanish Potato Tortilla with the leftovers – yum!). Rinse out the shell and make a paper sleeve with a small enough opening to hold your egg without slipping through. Fill your eggs with water and take a walk through your garden (or visit a florist and pick out a few stems) to gather little bits and blooms to fill your eggy-cups. Smaller flowers and sprigs work best; we used geranium, viburnum, lilac, muscari, forget-me-nots, and dogwood for ours. This project is so simple that you could easily whip out a dozen and use them as placecard holders for your Easter brunch or dinner. When you’re done you can compost the whole thing. Talk about easy clean up!

(If you’re interested in raising your own chickens, check out Sunset Magazine’s One-Block Diet experiment going on right now. Click on Team Chicken to read all about their chicks, and check out their recommendations for books all about raising chickens on your own, but check out the whole site to see what it’s like to try to live off the land when the land is your own square block of suburb.)

CLICK HERE for more beautiful chicken and flower arrangement pictures after the jump!

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  • Oh my! This is such a creative alternative to dyeing eggs, what a lovely spring idea!

  • I just happened upon your blog and I love it…have been reading through all your posts and I think they are truly gorgeous…will be back!

    Love love love,



  • Hens make such a lovely, homey sound, clucking and scratching around. My neighbour keep them, and guess what -we live on Chicken Point!
    Definitely an Easter post – just lovely.

  • thanks for prompting me to do something with those extra grape hyacinths (muscari) in my garden- a wonderful post!

  • The loveliest bouquets ever!!!!! Thanks for the wonderful inspiration for my Easter/Spring table.


  • this is egg-sactly what i have been planning for easter! but i want to try dying some the eggs first! soo cute!

  • Oh, that’s a great idea! I have never known what to do with the little flowers I pick once I bring them inside.

  • I love chicken plumage. The patterns and tones are truly amazing.

    And, chicks are sooooooo cute.

  • Adorable! Very clever & darling! Might need to copy that idea.

    Happy Easter!

    Ox, Mon

  • Beautiful!! What a brilliant way to display my eggs as well as my flowers. Am I correct isn’t that gorgeous gray chick a cochin? My Ruby looked JUST like that!

  • So cute! I just did something similar, but instead of using them as vases, I actually planted seedlings in the eggshells. Looks super-cute, and the nutrients help the seedlings grow, too!


  • those bouquets are beeeUtiful and would be a great touch to the easter table!

    also, fresh eggs = awesome!
    i grew up on a farm and miss them, not so much the chickens though, they’re actually pretty mean little things ;)

  • I just stumbled across your blog and it is adorable! Your arrangements are adorable! XO

  • I LOVE this idea!!! It’s so super cute. I will have to try it. I especially love it with the brown eggs, the contrast is very nice!

    My husband brought me a “bus-stop bouquet” to work once; it was just a tiny little bouquet like that (that he found at the bus stop, obviously) and he tied it together with a long blade of grass. It was almost two years ago and I still smile when I think of him doing that!

  • This is gorgeous – both the photos and the egg shell idea (and the hatchling are too cute)!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Oh my, stunning! Mini egg vases are absolutely wonderful to celebrate Spring cheer. I love, love, love it.

  • A friend of mine lives in Novato, and has been looking for really fresh egg alternatives. Any chance Dary might sell her extra eggs locally?

  • Those “vases” are so adorable and I’ll definitely be using the idea! *sigh* it’s my dream to have chickens in the back yard one day, but more like some of these: http://img505.imageshack.us/i/sol13fd.jpg/

    PS – there is a really funny/very awkward dangling modifier in this post, I couldn’t help myself and had to mention it ;)

  • I just made a beautiful arrangement of Lilac and white freesias from my garden for easter, but everytime I cut my lilacs and put them into an arrangement, they wilt or die by the next day. the freesias last a good couple days, but the lilacs never do, is there anything that can be done?

    I know I made my arrangement like 3 days before easter…but i had an ich to arrange flowers (I figured i would likely have to cut some more lilac before my easter party)….

  • My daughter-in-law and I love, love,love you web site. I humbly painted a painting inspired by your photo.