Seriously, who needs a puppy?
My family loves eggs. We boil them, devil them, scramble them, sunny side up them, fry them, and make crustless quiches. (see my Recipe section!) Eggs are such a good source of protein. My 6 year old son is going through a growth spurt right now. After dinner he complains of being hungry, I tell him to eat a boiled egg! It’s kinda like the carrot test they tell you to do if you are on a diet. If you are really hungry, you’ll eat the carrot. (or boiled egg)
So, besides the benefit of feeding my son during his growth spurt, and my husband getting out his power tools to build a really cool chicken coop…why are we doing this?
1) Eggs from well-tended backyard chickens are healthier: Factory farmed chickens live their lives without ever touching the soil or being allowed to hunt and peck for bugs. They are fed an unnatural and unvaried diet. These environmental conditions are designed to produce eggs quickly and cheaply in the factory farm. But the result is an egg that is less nutritious than eggs produced by chickens allowed to exercise, peck for bugs and engage in their natural chicken-y behavior. Eggs from backyard chickens have 25 percent more vitamin E, a third more vitamin A and 75 percent more beta carotene. They also have significantly more omega-3 fatty acids than factory farmed eggs.
2) Eggs from backyard chickens taste better: Seroiously. Eggs in the grocery store are anemic, and can be days—even weeks—old. As these eggs age, air seeps into the naturally porous eggshell, degrading not just the nutrition, but also the taste and affecting the consistency of the egg. Fresh eggs from backyard chickens have firmer whites and bright orange yolks. (That’s the beta carotene). But the real difference is in the taste. Backyard chicken eggs have a rich, robust taste that is difficult to describe.
3) Chicken droppings enrich your compost: Chicken droppings are high in nitrogen. Added to the compost bin they add more nitrogen and improve your compost. My hubby built me a really awesome herb garden. I should start making a little compost for my basil.
4) Chickens provide natural insect control: As they hunt and peck around the yard, chickens gobble up grubs, earwigs and other bugs, treating our garden pests as tasty, nutritious treats. Awesome.
5) Their scratching for bugs is good for the soil: Chickens are enthusiastic foragers and will scratch around in the leaves and soil searching for the tastiest morsels. As they do, they aerate the soil and break down larger pieces of vegetation with their sharp talons, accelerating the decomposition process.
6) Chickens are a great way to meet people and start conversations: Since I am naturally very shy, I don’t meet people very easily. Kidding.
7) Chickens are fun and interesting. Every chicken has a personality—and lots of it. They aren’t particularly smart, but when properly socialized, chickens can be very friendly and even do tricks.
We can’t afford to get a puppy now that someone in our family has decided to up and quit their job. I’m not saying any names, but it isn’t Daniel.
I guess I’ll teach my chickens to roll over. Video to come this summer.
8) Backyard chickens provide lessons for children about responsibility and where food comes from.Tending chickens is pleasurable and even easier than caring for a dog. There is no walking the chickens or even giving them a bath. But chickens do require daily food and fresh water. The coop must be cleaned and the chickens inspected regularly to ensure they are healthy. Children can participate in all of these chicken-related chores.
The average laying hen will product about 300 eggs a year. Now, who wants to buy some eggs?
See the difference in these yolks? The egg on the left is from my friend who has chickens in her yard. They are allowed to roam free and eat scraps, bugs, and feed. The yolks in these eggs are orange, rich and delicious. That sorry looking pale egg on the right is from Harris Teeter.