Michael and I love chickens. We own The History of the Chicken on DVD, we took a class on chickens, and we dressed Rosalie up like a baby chick for Halloween 2008. They are so adorable, so alert, so interesting!
Anyway, I probably am genetically predisposed to love chickens; my mom is passionate about keeping chickens and has done so for more years than I can accurately count. This picture of the rooster above is one of "The Three Stooges," some banties that Mom and Stan raised from eggs this year. They do not produce the bulk of the eggs in the household, but they sure are friendly and cute. They roam around the property and stick together like a little club, the three of them.
We plan on having chickens here in the city, too. Anytime now. The class Michael and I took was about keeping chickens in the city, and we know what we need to know. Our neighbors up the street also have a few, so we have neighborly and parental support. But we keep not having chickens. Why? You know, because blah, blah, blah, blah. It will happen. We have joked before that we were waiting for Rosalie to help care for them, but that excuse is out the window. She was just feeding the chickens this morning before we left the farm to come back home.
So. Why have chickens, besides their companionship and occasional entertainment? You know the word: eggs. Oh, there is a difference. Check it out:
Hmm. Guess which egg came from a happy, free, well-loved chicken? Which one came from a "cage free" egg carton at the store? If you guessed that the egg on the left, with the robust, vibrant, perky yolk came from Mom and Stan's place, then you're adept at picking up my subtle hints.
Below is another compare/contrast that I took last spring with the same thought in mind. I imagine you can tell which is which.
Our neighbors insist that caring for chickens is virtually effortless once things are set up. My mom would agree, too, although she keeps more chickens, so it may require a bit more effort at her place.
If you are interested in keeping chickens in your backyard and you happen to live in Seattle, then I recommend taking a class for taking care of chickens at Seattle Tilth. The guy that taught our class was so great--he had a degree in chicken husbandry, I believe, and he talked about the natural history of the chicken before launching into the nuts and bolts of their care. By the way, did you know that chickens' ancestors lived in the jungle?
If having chickens in your backyard or jungle is not an option, or if your parents don't have a few chickens handy of their own, there is still hope to eat fresh and beautiful eggs. Go to the farmer's market in your area and look for the stalls where they sell eggs. Identify the stall that always has the longest line as your first clue; then come back extra early another day and get eggs from that stall. Hope you have a great brunch!