The sun has set on the Lowcountry’s most celebrated egg operation, with a land use dispute forcing Celeste and George Albers to focus exclusively on dairy and beef production.
“Cracking one open reveals a yolk as golden as a sunset,” The Glass Onion‘s owners enthused in a 2010 blog post. “They literally make our béarnaise, deviled eggs and desserts. During the heat of summer when the hens simply refuse to lay enough, we enter a time of mourning.”
Since 1997, the Albers have rented 35 acres on Wadmalaw Island to serve as their egg farm. But a few years ago, the owner passed away, leaving the land to her children. In January, the plot was put up for sale in a foreclosure auction, and Celeste Albers says the new owner didn’t look kindly on her flock of hens. According to Albers, the current owner has characterized her grain storage sheds and farming equipment as “junk and debris.”
“He has also taken over our shed which houses the egg grader, and our walk-in cooler,” Albers continues. “He will allow us to continue to rent if all we do is graze our cows there. This is not acceptable to us.”
The Albers are now in the process of selling off the machinery associated with the egg business and moving their cows to their other rental property, Rosebank Plantation.
“In order to continue the eggs in another location, we would need to replace a good bit of stuff,” Albers says.
But daunting logistics alone didn’t quash the operation, which was ultimately undone by basic farm economics. According to Albers, the revenue from egg sales didn’t cover necessary equipment maintenance and upgrades.
“The profit from it was only enough to pay the full-time employee it required,” she says. “Not to mention compensation for the daily work done by George and I.”
Albers says she and her husband will devote their energies to their dairy business, which they developed in the late 2000s, after their vegetable farm was displaced.
“The dairy is growing to the point that it requires our full attention,” she says. “We will hopefully be able to make a living with the cows.”