Oyster Stew at Christmas

December, 2017

Lincoln -- Merry Christmas to all who read this blog. Here outside of Lincoln, Nebraska, four inches of snow cover the native and restored tallgrass prairie. Deer peer into the barn, where I am ensconced, to see a lighted Christmas tree. A fox tries unsuccessfully to get into the barn and out of the cold.

Today some of our family will soon gather at the house, up the hill, for traditional oyster stew. Oysters in Nebraska? Yes, demand for oysters dates back many decades, when barrels of oysters were shipped into the state as much for their shells as anything. Every farmer who raised poultry needed oyster shell. Chickens have no teeth, but must ingest sharp shells or grit stones into their gizzards to grind up food. Oyster shell also supplied calcium for stronger egg shells. Every chicken house worthy of its name had a special trough for oyster shell.

Long ago the family operated Oberg Hatcheries, a small chain of businesses around the state. "Quality Chix since '26" was the motto. The patriarch of that part of the family was George Oberg, now honored in the Nebraska Poultry Hall of Fame.

Happy New Year to all, 2018.