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Stories from Calistoga Ranch

Stories from Calistoga Ranch

Learn Chicken Coop for the Soul

chicken at Calistoga Ranch

To watch a first-of-a-kind moment in the life of a child is a treasured memory. On vacation with my preschool-aged grandchildren, I was vaguely aware of the vineyard located just beyond the swimming pool, but the chicken coop with actively laying hens inside surprised me and added a serendipitous educational experience for all of us.

My grandchildren once believed eggs came from a gray cardboard carton their mom brought home from the supermarket. The concept of an actual beaked and feathered hen producing those eggs daily was unknown to them; except perhaps when a cartoon character hatched a baby chick in some hilarious television skit. To be honest, I had never collected a still-warm egg from underneath a live chicken, so this unique opportunity was a joy to both experience and observe.

As a fun activity and contribution to enjoy fresh omelets for breakfast, we were encouraged to go collect a basketful of eggs from the coop and deliver it to the kitchen staff.

Any hesitations we had about stepping inside the coop evaporated when we saw this ranch-crafted chicken coop was 100 percent coordinated with the luxurious, yet rustic aesthetics found on the rest of the property. It was not only large and constructed of lovingly recycled wood but sported a chandelier on the ceiling!

Just outside the coop, being respectful of the hens’ personal space, there were opened lids to reveal  unattended eggs. The kids feverishly gathered eggs from one spot to another; I realized that, for them, this was more exhilarating (and way more real) than their annual Easter egg hunt at home. This was the real thing!

The experience elevated when we watched one of the hens ever so subtly push her just-laid egg aside for collection; we gasped in awe of her generosity (and her timing). And then, as if in a road race, we beelined straight back to the ranch kitchen to contribute the main ingredient of our breakfast.

That omelet tasted better than any I’ve eaten in decades; I chalked it up to the thrill of having hand-harvested those golden orbs of protein. As a grandparent, I was thrilled to share the kids-in-the-coop story to my own children, the kids’ parents. We’d hatched the memory of a lifetime during this unplanned run-in with Mother Nature.

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