My faithful readers are well aware that my parents have a flock chickens on their small farm, and most weeks I’m able to get a dozen fresh farm eggs to stock our fridge.
If you’ve never had eggs directly from a local farm, you’re missing out. They’re nothing like the eggs you buy at the grocery store, which makes you wonder about those store-bought eggs (and perhaps even a little frightened).
Real eggs, as we’ll call them, are produced in a variety of different colors ranging from white to pale blue to light beige (and a rainbow of colors in between), and some of them are speckled. They’re typically all different sizes, and the dozens I get from my parents include everything from large to jumbo. The yolks are nearly orange, and wonderfully rich and creamy.
The eggs, like the chickens from which they come, are just…pretty.
Last month my folks went away for a long weekend, and my 4-year old and I had the job of collecting eggs from the coop early that Saturday morning. Ever since he was a baby, once I returned to work after maternity leave, he’s spent two days a week at their farm. He builds things, he gets dirty, he crafts, he helps in their giant gardens, AND he collects eggs from the coop. He’s a pro!
The only thing he won’t do is collect the eggs from the broody hens. “I don’t like them,” he said simply.
I get it. Broody hens are creepy. They’re like gelatinous lumps of chicken that won’t move, except to peck the hand that tries to get their eggs, and my parents have four or five of them in the coop.
Under natural conditions, most birds lay only until a clutch is complete, and they will then incubate all the eggs. Many domestic hens will also do this–and are then said to “go broody“. The broody hen will stop laying and instead will focus on the incubation of the eggs (a full clutch is usually about 12 eggs). She will “sit” or “set” on the nest, protesting or pecking in defense if disturbed or removed, and she will rarely leave the nest to eat, drink, or dust-bathe.
Here’s one of the broody hens in my parents’ coop:
Creepy, right? Broody hens or not, we ended up collecting quite a few eggs that day – maybe 15 or 20?
Here’s a picture of one of the coops – a converted large shed, with a giant fenced in space with shrubs and trees for the chickens to roam freely. It’s fenced so that critters have a hard time getting in to eat the chickens (foxes, primarily), but the chickens do fly over and get out from time-to-time. (Eventually they make their way back into the yard.)
And this is one of the cooler features on their property: a log cabin. It’s not original to the land, rather the previous owners moved it years and years ago. My sister used to live there when she and Shawn were farming as Truffula Seed Produce, and now it mainly acts as a guest house, and also as a second kitchen when we’re all gathering for the holidays. Some say it’s haunted….
Do you have your own chickens, or buy eggs fresh from a local farmer?