jersey fresh.

It’s true, I’ve been having a hard time lately. I’ve been tired, uninspired, depressed. Just feelin blah. So I made an executive decision to spend some more time in my homeland in a van down by the river. And down by the river we keep it Jersey fresh.

Today, much to my surprise and absolute DELIGHT, my mom took me to a farm stand in Ringoes. She had a gift card. Who receives a gift card for a FARM STAND?!

My mom does, that’s who.

We were running around doing errands as folks who have off on a weekday do and all of a sudden she sharply cut the wheel of her Mazda CX-5 and we looped through a jughandle and boom we were at Sweet Valley Farm Market and our lives would never be the same.

You may not be aware but New Jersey is the Garden State. That means we have gardens, in our state. Not only do we HAVE gardens but we are KNOWN FOR GARDENS and mostly we’re known for giant gardens and another word for “giant gardens” is “farms.”

What we brought home! Eggs are from my mom’s chickens though.

We are known for farms. Farms that churn out Jersey fresh produce at a rate of one million tomatoes per minute. Also we invented the greatest tomatoes of all time. With science. At Rutgers. They’re called Ramapo tomatoes and they are The Godfather of tomatoes. I don’t even care what you have to say about it because they are everything worth loving in our state and I can’t be convinced otherwise.

Beyond that, this farm market was everything I needed and more. I have recently been feeling shitty and I blamed it on the time of year like “oh it’s the dog days of summer” or some shit. But today I did a full on 180 and realized I actually really love this part of the summer. Everything is at peak green lushness and ready to be harvested. But it’s like the first part of harvest time. When everything still feels fully alive and not dying like it is in the fall. It’s like you pick something to eat and it still could grow back, or grow more for you to take later this year. It’s not too late. It’s still summer.

It felt nice to realize this. But it took spending some quality one on one time with some tomatoes and peppers and peaches and eggplants to come to this realization. And I thank my mom for bringing me to this beautiful temple of crops to worship the gifts bestowed upon us by our incredible state. The 3rd state to ratify the US constitution.

Upon entering the farm stand I first noticed some peaches. I love love LOVE peaches but only NJ peaches in the summer. Or Georgia peaches OBVIOUSLY but you have to be in Georgia to get those…OBVIOUSLY.

At this point in COVID-19 history I feel like it’s straight up asshole behavior to squeeze at things before you buy them to see if they’re ripe so I had to make an educated guess on which basket of peaches to choose. They had white and yellow peaches and I prefer yellow. That’s all I have to say about that.

As I was excitedly wandering and taking pictures my mom told this old dude working there that I was “in from the city” and maybe not used to all of this farm-fueled excitement. She’s wrong because I WAS BORN INTO THIS FARM-FUELED EXCITEMENT but maybe she said it to make him give me free stuff. Because quicker than you can say “elotes” he swooped over, scooped up a random ear of corn, tore it open, and told me to take a bite.

So I did. As a sample. It was incredible. I will tell you one thing about Jersey corn in August and that is that it is JERSEY FRESH. DON’T YOU FORGET IT.

We browsed some more and I came across some lovely cucumbers.

Some perky peppers.

A very sassy eggplant.

Beautiful flowers.

And of course miles upon miles of luscious, red, perfectly ripe, height of their season and prime of their very lives, Jersey tomatoes.

There is nothing more beautiful.

And there you have it. Jersey fresh. That’s all I really wanted to say. I feel Jersey fresh, personally. And REfreshed. And renewed. And it was produce that did it. The end.

chickie ladies.

I LOVE CHICKENS.

I always liked chickens, I always wanted chickens. Overall I’m obsessed with birds and birds you can hang out with that also provide a valuable service are a pretty good deal.

The Internet says that they have incredible eyesight and I can see with my own eyes that they are most definitely the descendants of dragons.

Dragon.

Last Xmas we got my mom a chicken coop and told her in the spring we would be getting her chickens! She was pumped AF.

When spring came, we went to the local Tractor Supply and they had buckets and buckets of baby chicks and we picked some out of the mix and they were so cute and peep-y and we were glad to meet them.

Babies!

When you buy backyard chickens at Tractor Supply they are “sexed” which means they are pretty sure that they are lady chickens aka hens. But they could still be roosters they don’t know for sure. IT COULD GO EITHER WAY YOU GUYS.

We got 3 Buff Orpingtons (they grow up to be very plump and fluffy and lay light brown eggs), 4 Golden Comets (they are reddish brown and lay brown eggs) and a very pretty/special/last one left Ameraucana chicken (they lay blue eggs and have a funny beard). And actually they’re not THAT special but this one WAS the last one left and the only brown chick and we thought she was so cute and we had to have her.

Everyone cuddled together.

The maximum capacity of the coop is 8 adult chickens and we got 8 expecting that at least one would die.

That’s morbid I guess but when you get the chicks they seem so small and frail! And you have to take very good care of them and keep an eye on them and make sure they don’t get cold or die from doing something ridiculous and sad like drowning in their water bowl (this happens!). So it’s tough to keep everyone alive.

THEY COULD HAVE DIED.

But they all lived! We did it! We are the greatest chicken caregivers in the land! My mom kept them inside the house in a little chicken cage inside of a plastic kiddie swimming pool until they were big enough to be outside and warm without a heat lamp.

First day outside!

Toward the end of their time inside the house they started to feel very crowded and you could tell they wanted to get the heck out of there. They would always jump out of their cage and protest when you opened the door. The chickens were rude teenagers.

Rude and unruly.

Soon enough they got to live outside and they were really excited about it. They love to run around and peck at stuff and eat grass and bugs and anything else they want to eat because they will eat a lot of things. They are omnivores and they have really great eye sight. I feel like I have mentioned this somewhere before and I probably have. I’m very proud of them and the way they live their lives.

Double Trouble

Their favorite food hands down is mealworms. They also enjoy cheese and frozen corn. If you put half of a watermelon in there they will demolish it right down to a thin green rind. If you feed them cooked spaghetti they will at first be really excited because they think it’s worms and they will run around and fight over it. Then they calm down a little but still devour it.

MEALWORMZZZZ!!!

They love live worms dug right out of the ground and any kind of insect usually, although they don’t seem very interested in THE INVADERS. Once I heard a very loud screeching buzzing noise coming from their coop and I ran over and one was killing a cicada! IT WAS SO LOUD. This must have been a highly prized meal in the chicken community because once it was dead they all chased after the killer and another gal stole it away and ate it herself.

It’s a cutthroat community in my parents’ backyard.

If another type of non-insect animal enters their area it may also die. They once ganged up on a mole and killed it, and chase away terrified sparrows if they try to eat their snacks.

They also lay eggs! Since they started laying in the middle of this past summer, they each lay one egg a day so that’s 8 eggs a day! It’s supposed to slow down soon when it gets colder out and there is less sunlight but as of now they’re still going strong.

As you may or may not know, the eggs they lay aren’t fertilized because we don’t have a rooster. The eggs are their ovulation. And they do it every 28 hours instead of every 28 days. PRETTY BADASS. They make a lot of funny noise when they’re laying eggs and it’s pretty silly, but once they lay the eggs they seem okay with us taking them away. I like to think they’re proud. We do thank them often.

Harry lays blue eggs!

They’re very friendly because we always hold them and pick them up and pet them. They’re also brats and will try to sneak into their food trunk to steal treats or dart out of their gated area to find more fresh plants to eat or peck at your toes because they don’t like your pedicure. BUT THEY ARE SO CUTE.

WE DEMAND THAT YOU FREE US.

They’re my favorite friends and I love to go home to my parents’ to see them. This past weekend my mom used half of our Halloween jack o’lantern pumpkin as a bowl and put cheese, chicken feed, and mealworms layered into it and they LOST IT. I got this timelapse below.

If you watch closely there are a few times they come up close and stare at the camera for a while and it’s hilarious.

They were also kind of scared of my tripod because they get scared of everything. I guess they have to be cautious in case anything actually IS dangerous to them so they’re wise to be suspicious.

Suspicious.

Also, their names are: Harry (the brown one), Polly, Pepper, Precious (the yellow ones), Sunrise, Sunset, Butterscotch, and Barbara (the red ones).

Chickens rock! Do you like chickens? Do you have chickens? Would you like to have chickens? Do you want to ask me any questions about chickens? Do you want to correct anything I’ve said about chickens? I always want to learn more about chickens.