On a recent market morning, a shopper was looking for small eggs, not the jumbo eggs of the vendor, Tom Noble of Armstrong Valley Farm, with whom the customer was speaking. John Stephens, who works for Triple T Ranch and Farm, leaned over from his neighboring stall, opened a carton of eggs and revealed diminutive ovals, the perfect size. The customer beamed and everyone was happy. By the end of the day, neither vendor would have any eggs left.
The 13-acre certified organic Triple T Ranch and Farm is located in east Santa Rosa, on Melita Road. There are about 250 laying hens, along with a small flock of ducks that are producing about 17 dozen eggs a week, an amount that will increase substantially as spring approaches. The farm currently does not have quail eggs but plans are in the works to reintroduce them, both for eggs and, possibly, for meat.
The farm also sells chicken, about 20 birds a week, and stewing hens, which are available by special order. I'm frequently asked where to find stewing hens so here you go; just give the farm a call at 539-8777. State regulations require a family member to be present at market stalls that offer meat, including poultry, so Triple T chicken is not available in Sebastopol, where John Stephens is the face of the farm. If you typically attend the Sebastopol farmers market, you'll need to place a special order and arrange for pick up, or visit one of the other markets the farm attends.
The chicken and duck products are not certified organic, as they once were. Practices have not changed and the birds still eat an organic diet, but the farm has dropped certification, which saves both time and a considerable chunk of cash, which benefits the customers. Triple T chicken eggs are, on average, $6.50 a dozen and $8 a dozen for duck eggs. Certified organic eggs are typically higher.
Although eggs, chicken and a line of hot sauces are quite popular, Triple T is best known for its produce. The current harvest includes broccoli, winter squash, arugula, salad mix and kale. A field of chard took a big hit during the recent freeze but it should be back in about three weeks. There's fresh Italian parsley, sage, thyme, oregano and mint, too; it is too soon to know if a winter crop of cilantro survived the frost.
Within the next few weeks, three varieties of cabbage and a crop of kohlrabi should be ready for harvest.
Larry Kidneigh has managed the farm alongside his father-in-law, Larry Tristano, for 10 years and has been involved with the farm since 1995.
Triple T, founded in 1983 by Tristano, attends the Santa Rosa Community Farmers Market at the Veterans Building in Santa Rosa on Wednesday and Saturday, the Marin Civic Center Farmers Market in San Rafael on Thursday and Sunday, the Calistoga Farmers Market on Saturday and the Sebastopol Farmers Market on Sunday. To place a special order, call 539-8777.
Michele Anna Jordan hosts "Mouthful" each Sunday at 7 p.m. on KRCB 90.9 - 91.1 FM. Email Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org. You'll find her blog, "Eat This Now," at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.
Shelters for Pawnee fire evacuees
Lower Lake High School, 9430 Lake St., Lower Lake, is the official shelter established for people evacuating from the Pawnee fire. It is equipped to handle animals.
The Clearlake Oaks Moose Lodge, 15900 E. Highway 20, Clearlake Oaks, is not authorized by the Office of Emergency Services but is also sheltering fire evacuees, mostly people in campers and RVs who want their animals with them.
There is an authorized Lake County animal services station in an open field at Highway 53 and Anderson Ridge Road in Lower Lake.