Know Your Farmer: Zamudio Eggs
Here is the 2nd leg of our ‘Know Your Farmer’ farm tour – Diamond Z Ranch, home of Zamudio Eggs. Join us as we blog our way into the lives of those who feed us! To view the first episode of ‘Know Your Farmer: Markley Farms,’ click here.
If you have traveled the road to Elfrida, Arizona, the wide open spaces give you pause as the farming vistas abound. Off of Highway 191 South past red grain silos is a dirt road that leads to the Diamond Z Ranch, home of Dee Ann and Gilbert Zamudio. Dee Ann and her son, Joe, are patiently awaiting our arrival as the chickens are still penned up. Normally by 7:30am the chickens are set free to roam the farm, feeding on grass, insects and Dee Ann’s secret feed recipe. “I find that the eggs taste much better when the chickens get to forage and have plenty of sunlight. That combination makes for healthier and happier chickens,” she says.
As we hop on her new golf cart, a Christmas gift given to her by her kids, Dee explains, “I needed help around here and the golf cart has helped me run the baskets of eggs to the processing room. With more chickens and more eggs I couldn’t haul the baskets by hand anymore. The processing area is right off the back of Dee and Gilbert’s house, a converted porch. It’s filled with hundreds of egg cartons, 4 refrigerators, a 3-compartment sink and egg drying racks. The drying racks were handmade by the kids in her husband Gilbert’s Ag class in Benson, a project that has helped with the processing of dozens of eggs at once.
Dee Ann certainly is a detailed keeper of the farm fowl schedule. She uses dry-erase boards to keep notes on her persnickety friends. She knows how old each batch of hens are, details of their lay schedule, and she makes sure that records are kept detailing when the newest batch of chicks starts to lay. That’s a pretty tall order for over 300 birds, all cage-free, roaming the pasture and pens!
As we help collect the eggs in the nesting boxes, the birds are running in and out of the converted cotton trailers they call home. I asked Dee Ann what happens at dusk, “The chickens sense when it’s time to come in. They know which pen is theirs and, by sundown, 99% of the birds are tucked in and settling down for the night. We check each pen and lock‘em in,” she says. The farm tour continues and I venture to ask whether she or the birds keep the schedule? Dee smiles and responds, “Around here, the chickens rule the roost!”