I often order eggs for breakfast in local restaurants, so I thought I would look a little more closely at one favorite source for eggs in the Pajaro Valley.
Recently, when visiting the Glaum Egg Ranch in Aptos, I learned that my high school math teacher, Norbert Glaum, was the son of John Glaum, who ran the egg ranch until he died in 1952. Norbert’s brother, Marvin, took over the ranch from his father. The fact that Norbert taught high school math may be a clue to the family’s inventiveness and creativity. According to their website, John Glaum was recognized as an innovative farmer. Marvin was also inventive and mechanically minded: he designed gas-powered engines and various machines to improve the efficiency of chicken farming.
Originally from Nebraska, the Glaums have been in the business of raising chickens since the 1920s. They moved west to Santa Cruz in 1946. Marvin died three years ago, and now his son, Doug, operates the ranch along with three generations of the family.
Carrying on the tradition of family innovation, they continue to find ways to improve their egg ranch using sustainable methods. Glaum Egg Ranch was one of the first to be “Certified Humane, Raised and Handled” by the Humane Farm Animal Care organization. The chickens are 100 percent cage-free, with access to the outdoors; they are fed all-vegetarian and organic diets, and no stimulants, hormones, or antibiotics are used. The eggs are hand-picked.
Furthermore, according to the Glaum Egg Ranch website, since 1988 they have produced “zero waste.” They recycle all the chicken manure into Glaum’s Organic Composted Fertilizer.
As a visitor you won’t be allowed into the cage-free chicken barns. But you’ll see the red wooden buildings that house the packing warehouse and egg stand, and you’ll enjoy their popular egg vending machine.
In a framed window next to the egg vending slot, animatronic chickens dance and cluck the catchy 1940s tune, “In the Mood,” made famous by the Glenn Miller Band and the Henhouse Five Plus Too. Before the show, insert $3 into the “machine,” and you’ll receive two dozen eggs.
According to Jessica Garcia, a friend of the Glaum family for 25 years, Marvin’s oldest daughter, Sherrie Glaum, puts the show together, dressing the chickens according to the season. For summer, they’re wearing shades and sunhats, and surrounded by butterflies and baseballs. You can’t watch it without grinning.
I noticed Patricia Stoudemire, a returning customer from Freedom, dancing along to the cheery tune. “I come here for the show,” she said with a laugh, “and I always buy eggs, too!” You can also buy eggs at the counter, and it’s a great deal at $3 for two dozen.
While deciding whether to purchase brown or white eggs, and learned something new: “brown-eared chickens (with brown feathers at their “ears”) produce brown eggs, and white-eared chickens produce white eggs,” Garcia informed me.
Garcia often refers to the chickens as “the girls.” The well-being of the hens are their priority; “it’s all about the girls,” Garcia said. One of the great things about Pajaro Valley and the Central Coast is that so much of our produce is locally grown; knowing where your food comes from gives you a sense of connection to bounty of the land and your neighbors. And it’s good to know that your eggs come from a ranch that cares about their chickens.
3100 Valencia Rd. (off Freedom Blvd.), Aptos. Hours: Mon.—Fri., 8 a.m.—4 p.m. (831) 688-3898.