Eggs, nature’s original pre-packaged fast food, are chock full of vitamins and minerals, proteins, and healthy fats. They’ve gotten a bad rap from the whole low fat/cholesterol is bad phase we’ve been going through for decades now. We’ve taken the yolks out and re-packaged them in paper cartons, but what has that really done for us?
Have the egg white omelets and egg substitutes helped in the fight against obesity, diabetes, strokes, or heart attacks? Has feeding our children egg whites instead of whole eggs helped to decrease the rate of childhood obesity?
With more and more information coming out about saturated fat and cholesterol, we see that maybe messing around with Nature’s perfect food is just silly. Could it be that manufacturers of processed foods are the only ones really benefiting off of egg substitutes?
I’ve not always been a fan of eggs. As a child I didn’t really like eggs, and it didn’t really go away until a couple of years ago. My biggest problem with eggs was the after-taste. I would always get the egg burps. I guess it’s similar to the fish burps people sometimes get from taking a fish oil capsule. It didn’t make a difference if I ate the whites, the yolks, the “may be eggs” one gets at the drive-thru.
I also had a problem with eating the eggs of our chickens. I know these chickens, having helped raise them up from eggs themselves, I felt a sort of cannibalistic guilt each time I cracked one open. It’s sort of funny looking back at how I would feed my family chicken eggs while sneaking my own eggs out of a carton.
I had never really thought about the whole hen/rooster thing. See, our mama hens are the only ones kept with a rooster, their eggs are the next generation. When I thought about it, I realized that no matter how long lady bird sits on her eggs, they aren’t going to hatch. Eventually she’ll come off the nest and start the process all over again. I guess that’s about the time I decided I was just being childish about eggs.
A really cool thing happened when I started eating the eggs our hens had so generously provided. The egg burps stopped. Why? I don’t have a clue. Maybe it’s because our chickens eat a natural diet of grass, wild strawberries, leftovers, chicken feed, and bugs? They aren’t all locked up on top of a conveyor belt getting antibiotics, steroids, and whatever else a chicken needs to survive in cramped space with no sunlight.
These ladies live a happy life. They are free to come and go from the chicken yard as they please. They get plenty of exercise, flying back to their safe haven when the neighbor’s dogs come out to play.
While the biggest benefit of keeping chickens is knowing what your eggs are made of, there are other benefits also. Gathering eggs gets one outdoors. Gathering eggs can also be an adventure because free range chickens tend to have mobile nests. If for what ever reason you can’t let your chickens roam, cleaning out pens is a pretty good, although stinky, workout.
While chickens are nothing like falcons as far as distance and grace, they can fly. A fence is no barrier for keeping chickens where you want them. If you have a lot of space and a good dog, let them roam, if you take good care of them, they usually come home to roost each evening.
If roaming is not an option, build a coop with a roof, also a “yard” area that is fenced around your coop so they can get outdoors with the sunlight and bugs. (make sure to use some type of mesh or chicken wire to enclose the top of the “yard” if you don’t want them flying about)
If at all possible, start with young chicks so that they have time to get to know you. Chickens can be quite nervous in a new atmosphere.
I like to talk to them while gathering eggs. I learned early that those hens can tell if I’m nervous about getting the eggs. Bloody knuckles taught me to 1. wear gloves and 2. tell Lady Bird what I’m gonna do before just sticking my hand beneath her and taking her hard work.
Don’t let the bloody knuckles scare you off, all chickens aren’t peckers, especially if they know you and you keep a routine. Since we started gathering eggs in the mornings instead of random times, the ladies have learned to just go eat them a nice buggy breakfast while we’re gathering.
I leave you today with a picture of some of our happy chickens. Lady Bird is kinda to the right of the middle. The young chickens with her are not her babies, but she hatched them. She has never been penned, never hatched her own eggs, but she is still the best mama. She taught those babies how to chase bugs, the wonders of wild strawberries and yes, how to fly back over the fence when the dogs come out.