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SCOTT SIMON, host:

With Easter just around the corner, lots of people are making plans to decorate eggs. But one family in Custer County, Colorado doesn't need to get out the dye because they'll use strangely colorful homegrown eggs. Beth Ann and Andrew Zeller have nine children still living at home and they go through about eight dozen eggs a week.

Producer Shanna Lewis from member station KRCC visited with the Zellers in their barn.

(Soundbite of chickens)

Ms. BETH ANN ZELLER: Okay. Lance and Noel, you're going to - guys going to gather.... Michael's got two there.

My name's Beth Ann Zeller. We've lived here about - full-time for 13 going on 14 years, up here in the Sangre de Cristos at about 9,000 feet. And a good hen will lay, well, seven eggs a week during her first year, really. I have found breeds of hens that lay well all the way through the winter.

Unidentified Child: The chickens go out and then they walk around and then we put the chickens in at night to keep them safe.

Ms. ZELLER: Bears will come in. Sometimes in the summertime, we've had them just rip off the side off the barn. And we know when it was a bear that was the predator because they leave the wings. Coons will bite off their heads and leave their bodies, so you can tell what kind of predator got them by what's left or isn't left.

Unidentified Child: I have this metal bucket that I collect the eggs with. I just put a scoop of hay in there and lay all the eggs in there so that they won't crack.

Mr. ANDREW ZELLER: At Easter we really hardly have to dye eggs to have colored eggs around the house because we've got such a variety of eggs that come out of the chickens.

Ms. ZELLER: They actually come in Army green clear up through, yeah, blue and purply, and we'll oftentimes at Easter time blow them and then the kids just take fine line markers and draw little designs on them because the background color's already there.

They're laid with a natural coating that keeps bacteria, etcetera, from entering the little tiny air holes in the shell. And you want the bloom on, and if you use any kind of washing method, it usually would remove some of that bloom and the egg is actually less safe to eat.

(Soundbite of chickens)

Unidentified Child: We had somebody come by and he said that eggs were made in factories; they weren't made by chickens. And he would not believe us that eggs were made by chickens.

Ms. ZELLER: Count them up there, Elias, count them up.

Unidentified Children: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve...

SIMON: That from producer Shanna Lewis in Colorado.

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