As locals scramble to find eggs in stock at local grocery stores, some egg lovers are turning to the source to find egg-xactly what they need.
Joan Taramasso of Taramasso Ranch in south Napa, said egg orders from her commercial customers have declined dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, at the same time, the number of folks who head to her ranch on Old Sonoma Road has dramatically increased.
“People want their eggs,” said Taramasso.
She’s been selling eggs laid by her 1,500 chickens since about 2012. The ranch usually sells to bed and breakfasts, restaurants, wineries and grocery stores. It also offers a self-serve refrigerator of cartons of eggs in the front yard.
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These days, her commercial business has come to a halt. The grocery stores she does supply — such as Browns Valley Market, Sunshine Foods and Oakville Grocery — sell out within hours after delivery, she said.
Taramasso said after word spread on social media sites such as NextDoor that Taramasso Ranch had eggs, many new customers have found their way to the ranch.
“I had to sign up for NextDoor to see what the heck was going on” because there were so many people who said the neighborhood website is how they found her, said Taramasso.
Not everyone is used to buying eggs directly from the source, she said. “I don’t know what people expect, but it’s just (partner) Matt and me and 1,500 chickens.”
Store-bought eggs are not all they are cracked up to be, said shoppers who are beating their way to Taramasso Ranch.
Michal Farrell of Napa stopped by Taramasso Ranch on Tuesday afternoon to make a purchase.
“There’s nothing better than a new egg,” said Farrell. “It tastes different” than the typical white grocery store egg.
Farrell said she likes to stop by the Taramasso Ranch to support a local small business but also because she also used to raise chickens.
“Chickens are so wonderful.”
Jennifer Burke of Napa also bought some eggs from Taramasso Ranch. She never buys eggs at the grocery store, said Burke, and therefore has not noticed a lack of eggs on market shelves.
“We always come here” for fresh eggs – buying three to four dozen at a time. “These eggs taste completely different,” Burke said.
“These eggs are wonderful – better than any egg you can buy at the grocery store,” said Taramasso Ranch customer Laura Cinquini. Besides that, “it’s a fun outing,” and an easy way to get out while still practicing social distancing.
“It’s been great,” said Taramasso of her new business model. “We are meeting so many new people and getting all the social interaction we could possibly want.”
Due to the jumbo-sized egg interest, they’ve added new security measures, said Taramasso. After all, she does ride around in a van full of hundreds of eggs – complete with EGG BUS license plates.
“I was driving around with eggs the other day thinking this might be the closest I ever come to being a hijacking target. People are serious about their eggs,” she said.
Taramasso Ranch eggs cost $7 per dozen and are as fresh as they get.
“They are straight out of the chicken,” she said. “They laid them yesterday, we washed them last night and now we’re selling them today.”
Her 1,500 hens lay as many as 1,000 eggs a day, she said. Another 750 chicks are on order. The chickens at Taramasso Ranch wander freely, she noted.
“Our girls spend the whole day outside and go in and out as they choose. They rule the roost.”
Another local egg farmer, Sheri Hurley of Hurley Farms, said her small farm has been so inundated by egg buyers that she had to switch to curbside pick-up. Customers call in, “we get your order ready, and bring it out to you,” said Hurley.
Some days, she’s sold out by noon, said Hurley. “We no longer accept cash, we just accept toilet paper for our eggs,” she joked. Actually, the price for Hurley Farms eggs is $6 per dozen.
Hurley Farms has “only” 300 chickens, which means they hatch around 20 dozen eggs a day, said Hurley.
She’s been somewhat surprised at the demand for eggs. “I have my regulars but we’ve seen people we’ve never seen before.”
“’Hey we heard you had eggs’” is what they tell her, Hurley said. “It’s crazy. But that’s good. Now people know we’re here.”
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