The chicken? The egg? The cardboard box. That's what came first in my chicken adventure. Our fifty meat birds and twenty-five layers were sent through the United States Postal Service in two ventilated cardboard boxes strapped one on top of the other. The package was chirping as T. brought it out from the back and it chirped all the way home, stopping at sudden movements or loud noises only to resume seconds later.
It has been seven months since we gave those chirping little balls of fuzz their first drink of water and first taste of mash. Now they're giving us eggs. We gave away half our birds and from the ten we kept we get up to ten eggs a day--some light brown, some pink, some speckled, dark brown ones from black bird, and blue ones from yellow bird.
I have heard it said that all eggs taste the same. Organic eggs, 'conventional' eggs, free range, cooped up, store bought, back yard--they all taste the same. But I don't buy it. Perhaps I'm biased, influenced emotionally by my involvement in the production of these eggs, but I really do think these are better than what you can buy at the grocery store. The yolks are more golden and stand up taller in the pan. The whites have a more delicate texture, refusing, happily, to become rubbery. I., my best customer and one not prone to exaggeration or overt praise, called our eggs the best she has ever had and said they poach better than any egg she has ever cooked. So there.
Another benefit of keeping your own layers is that the anomalies don't get weeded out. Several times a month one of the girls lays a veritable torpedo of an egg. It's a double-plus-super-double-yolker. Two eggs in one, more like.
I had started to wonder if fresh eggs were worth the feeding and watering and cleaning of poopy boxes and worry over hen pecking and everything else that comes with keeping chooks. Having tasted tages ei, I now know they are.