- Here are the first two eggs laid by our new hens. The dark brown one is from one of the Black Sex-linked hens. The lighter brown one is from Chicken Little, the Black Australorp.
This is the beginning of Day 4 with our three new hens. They’ve settled in nicely and have laid four eggs in three days. I’m not overwhelmed with their productivity, but it’s a good start given that the days are still short. They should come into full productivity in another six weeks, or possibly eight weeks, which is Easter.
That may be one of the reasons why we have Easter eggs. In the old days, chickens pretty much stopped laying in winter and didn’t begin again until spring. Eggs were a sign of spring and renewal of the earth. Many modern breeds lay throughout the year, although production still slows down in winter. Commercial egg factories leave the lights on to fool the chickens into thinking that they’re living in perpetual summer.
I’ve heard that eggs were forbidden food during the Lenten fast for Catholics during the Middle Ages, along with meat. Any eggs that were laid during Lent were boiled to preserve them. They were eaten on Easter Day. During Passover, Jews dip a hard-boiled egg in salt water. So eggs, especially boiled ones, have a long association with spring.
I didn’t boil the first two eggs from our chickens. I fried them.
I like my fried eggs over medium. Look how high those yolks are. That’s one of the signs of a fresh egg. And look how compact the whites are. They didn’t spread out over the pan. That’s another sign of a fresh egg.
The flavor of these fresh eggs from free-range chickens was fabulous. At the farm where they were raised, they had full run of a barn, corral, sheep pen, and surrounding pasture. They ate bugs and weeds in addition to their laying pellets (which consist mainly of corn and soybeans). Here, they have a dirt run for exercise, but are not allowed access to my yard and garden, both for their own safety and because they would eat my tiny garden down to dirt in short order. I pull weeds to feed them, and give them the bottom leaves of my lettuce, chard, kale, collards, and cabbage. They’ll also be getting peelings and appropriate table scraps. If they ate only laying pellets, I might as well get my eggs from the store, flavor-wise. Also, I belive that a hen diet that includes greens will increase the Omega-3 content of the eggs, which makes them healthier for my cardiovascular system.
These eggs were fertile, since the hens and roosters mingled freely on the farm where I got my hens. I’m not sure when they’ll start laying infertile eggs, but that makes no difference to me. I don’t think that the fertilization process adds any nutritional or flavor benefit to the eggs.
And that brings up another topic. Almost everyone I talk to is amazed that we don’t need roosters to get eggs. Chicken hens lay eggs regularly whether a rooster is present or not. You only need a rooster if you want fertile eggs. Roosters are illegal in the city because of noise, and we don’t want one anyway.
I have five storebought eggs left. I plan to turn them into a lemon tart today, using Meyer lemons from my tree. That will be the last of our store-bought eggs.
OK, girls, we’re counting on you. Get to work!
(To read more of Lou Murray’s environmental writing, see her weekly column, Natural Perspectives, in the Huntington Beach Independent at www.hbindependent.com /blogs_and_columns)
I have been wanting to build a little chicken coop and get a couple chickens to add to our tiny garden too, but from your post it looks like that won’t work the way I had intended if they will eat the entire garden in addition to the bugs….Also I wonder if two chickens would produce enough eggs. We usually go through a dozen every week or two that we pay a very high price for at the farmers’ market.
Hi Brenda. I have my chickens confined to an enclosed run that is 8ft x 3.5 ft. That’s just big enough for 3 chickens. They’re free-range, but their range doesn’t include my vegetable garden. The coop is on stilts over the run, and adds another 7 sq ft to the room that they have. They don’t really take up much space. Two chickens should give you enough eggs for a dozen every 10 days. I suspect that we’ll be eating more eggs now that we have three hens. Go for it!
My neighbors all have hens and they have also at least two roosters. Some of them do grow their own chicks and that’s why they need roosters, but mostly they keep roosters to protect hens from hawks. Roosters are fighters and I have seen several times hawks attacking hens and ducks, but roosters weren’t around at that time.
Hi Vrtlaricaana, I didn’t know that about roosters. My hens are protected by an enclosure, no roosters needed.
Lovely looking eggs, and I bet they were yummy!
Hi Villager, yes, they were yummy, but I enjoyed them beyond just the taste. I loved them mostly because I “grew” them myself. I love having chickens in my backyard and going out for eggs.