By Pete Zamplas
Henderson County – Fruitland Farmstead owners Mark and Lauren Kaisoglus are joyously enjoying farm living after shedding city life and livening the Hendersonville Farmers Market with unusual blue eggs and a hen cam.
They have a booth at the weekly market near Seventh Avenue, on most Saturday mornings. This market is their sole outlet. They will next be there on July 25. Their booth is often in front of the historic train depot.
A quick way to spot them is to look for lanky 6-foot-3 Mark. His sanitary mask hides his unique two-tone beard, that is white on the right side.
Another giveaway is their “chicken cam” monitor, at the front part of their display table. People passing by often stop and look with amusement at the hens at the Kaisoglus farm in Fruitland, just north of Hendersonville. The remote security system is like a baby cam and has four split screens.
Hen, Egg Diversity
“People are excited to learn about our chickens,” Mark said.
Blue organic eggs are another visual distinction. They are turquoise or light hazy blue. Brown eggs are tan to suntan brown. Other eggs are white. The Kaisogluses say the three types taste similar.
Their eggs (at $6 per dozen) typically sell out in two hours, along with much produce. They plan to sell frozen chicken broilers starting in mid-August, at $5 per pound. Lauren calls the Cornish-White Rock mix a “delicious roasting bird, that’s beefy and big breasted.
Their three chicken breeds Rhode Island Red, Leghorn, and Ameraucana. The breeds gather together. Leghorn originated in Tuscany, Italy. These white birds lay white eggs.
Multi-colored Ameraucana is also called Easter Egger, for laying blue eggs. Vivid-shaded Reds lay brown eggs. So do two breeds the Kaisogluses plan to get — Buff Orpington and speckled Barred Rock.
The Kaisogluses’ 20 hens produce 12 to 14 dozen total eggs per week. Each hen lays an egg a day for four or five days per week. An egg pops out after a “couple of squawks when she’s pushing out the eggs,” Lauren noted.
Hens typically first lay eggs when a half-year-old, and starting a year later their eggs are larger, Mark noted. Also, “You might get a double yolk, in early reproductive years.”
Their hens’ eggs have a “richer flavor” with “greater nutrients” than store-bought ones, she said. Yolks are “bright orange, rather than light yellow.” They can be stored for up to a month near room temperature, and thereby cook “more evenly” by starting warmer than if refrigerated, Mark said.
Lauren is expecting their first child — a daughter — around Halloween. Their farm animals-pets are like kids. On Saturday, they added white “guard goose” Ken, and dwarf goats Harry and Dale as “mowers.” They join cat Jabby, and a breeding pair of long-haired Kune Kune pigs. The pigs like rubs of the belly or behind ears.
Similarly, the hens like a good back scratch. “They squat down with arms down” in a mating ritual, and “want you to scratch their backs,” Mark explained.
Hens get the royal treatment. “I say, ‘Good morning, ladies! How are you? What do you need?’,” Lauren said. “We haven’t romanced them” by playing music, Mark said. Yet “they are affected by their environment. We make it as relaxing and hospitable as possible.”
Netting is going atop fenced-in areas, to prevent predator hawks and falcons swooping in, Mark said. “They lay less, when stressed out from pressure of getting attacked.”
Egg flavor is enhanced by hens’ diverse organic diet, Mark said. “Instead of wolfing down only grain or corn, our chickens eat grain and eat insects, clover and grass in the pasture.” Hen treats are fed broccoli leaves and other garden scraps.
Each hen gobbles one-third pound of food daily. “We soak the grain feed in water,” Mark said. “By the third night, it breaks down the nutrients and creates healthy probiotics.”
Lauren and Mark learned that tip when interning at Living Web Farms in Mills River, in 2016. They hope to teach workshops at their farm.
Fresh hay keeps laying boxes dry. That helps preserve a hen’s “bloom” coating that protects eggs against bacteria unless it is washed or heated away, and in turn allows storage at room temperature.
Living the Rural Dream
Kaisoglus (“Kay-oh-glus”) is Greek. The couple fulfills “our dream to move to a farm, and fill it with small animals,” as Lauren puts it. They began developing a tract in Fruitland in 2016 and had a house built there. They have lived off of its land and garden for two years. There are two acres of woods, and three pasture acres. She grew up in Syracuse, N.Y. with a dog and guinea pig. Mark had cats and a gerbil, in Reading, Pa. They met in
Philadelphia. There, Mark was a litigation attorney and Lauren a costume designer. Here, she teaches sewing and works for an Internet provider. He provides a broadband non-profit legal and other services. After work, they farm for about four hours each night.
“Sense of community” is strong at the market and in this area, Mark Kaisoglus said. People are friendly, and “connecting with each other.”