Wednesday, October 19, 2011

backyard eggs

Sometimes when people find out we have our own chickens they get really excited about the idea of fresh eggs.  It is pretty exciting when that first egg comes and it's great to just always have them on hand.  The chickens themselves are rather entertaining too.  Currently we've got five girls in the yard.  Three are young and between them, one egg was produced before laying season apparently came to an end.  At the moment our daily egg search yields zero.  Sadly, it's been that way for a couple of months.  (It is typical for production to slow or cease in the colder months although this has never happened to us in the past.)  Before they and our older girls decided on their current hiatus though, I took this shot of some eggs as we were baking one day.  Since we had so few, we used both a store bought "organic, free range" egg alongside one of our own.  (What "organic, free range" actually means in terms of how the chickens live, eat and die on a big farm probably varies from brand to brand.)
Backyard egg on the left.  Factory egg on the right.
In a blind taste test I don't know that I could tell the difference between these.  The flavor is pretty standard although I wish I could say otherwise.  It's the thing about having chickens that makes it less exciting than we hoped.  An egg tastes like an egg tastes like an egg.  What is striking about an egg from a chicken you feed yourself, hold in your arms and whose name you know is how it looks.  When you scramble these things they're a beautiful, warm sunny orange.  The yolks are firm, stand taller and are harder to break than factory farmed eggs.  Depending on the diet of the hens, the shell can vary from extremely thick and difficult to crack to almost paper thin and quite fragile.

        Jak                                 Juniper                          Persephone                          Amelia                        Jellybean Puffball
Chickens aren't for everyone.  A lot of cities have ordinances against them for reasons I can't fully fathom, getting started can be expensive, they can be messy and they indiscriminately enjoy all the lovely plants in the garden when they escape their appointed area, but we just get so much from our girls even without their eggs.  They're surprisingly relaxing to watch, take advantage of nearly all of our food waste, are so incredibly sweet (and educational) as they grow from tiny chicks, eat all the slugs they can get their beaks on, create a richly fertilized soil and help our daughter learn yet another lesson about where our food really comes from. 
Since our last cat passed, "the girls" (as we like to call them) are our only pets.  Just a few days ago I found out that when my husband puts them in for the night he tells them that he loves them.  Who'd have thought?  Chickens.  They're not just for eggs.  They're part of our little urban family.


  1. I'd love to have chickens some day!

    Thanks for your comment on my blog about the "Brother Acorn" story. Wanted to mention that I'll be having a giveaway sometime next week. One of the prizes will be "A Donsy of Gnomes". And I'll be interviewing the author! Fun.

  2. Oh how appropriate! I was just asking the girls today if they knew the names of your chickens and they made up all kinds of crazy names... but now I REALLY know :)

    I love that your husband tells tem he loves them <3

    If you ever need soem chicken sitters - we'd love to do it!! Ok, now back to the doll for school... eeeek!


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