This is the second year we’ve had chickens at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, raised by the GRP for their eggs. Most athletes are known for eating rather large quantities of eggs, an easy and tasty source of protein, but not everyone is as intimately involved in the egg-making process as we are here. For quite a few people, especially in rural VT like we are, raising chickens isn’t particularly unusual; however I know that not everyone is lucky enough to have the facilities to raise chickens, and to know so conclusively where their eggs come from.
New this year, the chickens are in residence in a field at Elinor’s, the skier house. I can’t say I saw much of the chickens last year, when they lived near one of the rower houses, but I’m getting well acquainted with this year’s chickens as one of their caretakers. It’s fun, I like chickens! They’re pretty silly, sometimes annoying, often voraciously hungry and thirsty, but friendly and talk(sqawk)ative. And softly feathery – I’ve been trying to help them acclimate to people, which will make them easier to be around and handle, so I pet them every day! Don’t worry, you can laugh, my teammates have been laughing and giving me a hard time about petting the chickens too…
Posing with a chicken, post-workout. Thanks to Andrew for the photo, and for coercing me into posing for it.
Alex Howe, who’s had significant experience with animals and crops at his family’s farm, and a few other of the athletes got the chicken coop all set up last year. That was the hard part of the process – the feeding, watering, and daily egg collecting is pretty straightforward. The coop is right next to the ski trails and the main route between our house and the Center, so I can check on them as I run or bike past for workouts and commutes to the Center. As long as I keep them well supplied with water and food, the chickens are pretty content and the number of eggs keeps going up. Right now we’re getting 42-48 eggs a day, which should go up to closer to 65 soon, equal to the number of chickens.
The chickens are always eager to see me walking up to their coop, and they gather inside the solar-powered electric fence expectantly. One of my favorite parts of the process right now is walking up to the chicken coop at twilight to shut them inside for the night – the fireflies are out in great numbers, adding their sparkle to the fields, and the chickens are softly clucking and settling down for the night.
Looking back towards Elinor’s from the coop
Chickens excited at fresh water and an empty bucket, with the solar electric fence in the background
Waiting inside the fence
I bring the chickens fresh water a few times a day, especially if it’s hot like the current heat wave
Entrance to the coop
Inside the coop, with food buckets
The day’s collection
Chicken feed + water + happy chickens + VT grassy pasture + attentive caretaker = tasty eggs!
Once the eggs are in the kitchen, more fun begins, as we turn them into breakfasts, or snacks. I have pictures of a few egg-creations, but not nearly all of them, because it’s often hard to remember to take pictures before something is devoured, by myself or others. We eat lunch and dinner at the Outdoor Center dining hall, but breakfast at Elinor’s is a good opportunity to cook whatever we’d like. Recent favorites include: fried eggs on toast with jam and melted cheddar cheese (several of my skier teammates eat this often, and it’s great! I hadn’t tried the combo until a few weeks ago and it’s now solidly in my repertoire of breakfast options – highly recommended!), scrambled eggs, waffles, egg-banana pancakes and more. A few nights ago we had an evening gathering and invited the rowers to our house, and I made deviled eggs for a snack.
Eggs, ready for consumption
Big eggs and little eggs, choose your portion
Have you ever heard of egg-banana pancakes? I discovered them this spring and now I make them about once a week. 1 mashed banana, 2-3 eggs, dash of vanilla, dash of cinnamon yields a crepe-like not-too-sweet pancake ideal for topping with berries or peanut butter, and syrup.
Egg and banana pancake operation in progress, with blueberries, peaches, yogurt and VT maple syrup of course!
Deviled eggs, garnished with paprika and chives.
Fueled by all of these nutritious eggs, and the rest of the fabulous food at the COC dining hall, we skiers are deep into summer training, with lots of running, rollerskiing, strength, etc.
One token training photo – track speeds a few weeks ago with the girls’ team. Left to right, Ida, Liz, Caitlin, Kaitlynn. More training photos coming soon, hopefully…