Foodie Friday: Fresh Chicken Eggs!

A chicken update – our chicks that we bought as one-day-old hatchlings back in May have finally started laying!

So far we have at least one pullet (which basically means awkward-looking not-quite-full-grown-chicken) who lays blue eggs. Definitely one of our three Easter Eggers, the only breed we got capable of doing so. We have at least three chickens laying light brown eggs. Who those ladies might be is anyone’s guess.

We have three new Plymouth Barred Rocks (my favorite breed – docile, sweet, and consistent layers even through winter – this is our sweetest one showing off her RBF) and three Buff Orpingtons, all of whom lay light brown eggs. So we still have at least three brown egg laying and two green laying freeloaders who aren’t pulling their weight. Then there’s our remaining Welsummer.

Initially, we had three Welsummers.  Sadly, one of our Welsummers died about two months ago. No idea what happened but must have been some sort of illness, because I came into the coop one evening and she was on the floor, no signs of foul play. Another of our Welsummers turned out to be this big fellow:

The ultimate freeloader! My four year old son asked me the other day why “boys are mean and don’t even do anything.” I thought he was talking about someone in preschool (and was frankly confused by his prejudice against his own gender), but apparently he was referring to Sir Rooster up there. Kid has a point. The rooster had recently jumped (luckily harmlessly) on our two-year-old’s back and gotten booted off post-haste. If he does it again, we’re going to have to assess if he sticks around. BEWARE rooster!

Our final newbie is our lone standing female Welsummer. There she is, hiding behind the yellow Buff, pooping on the outdoor shower, clucking at me and generally making it difficult to get an in-focus picture of her. Lady treats me like she’s Mariah Carey and I’m the paparazzi (you’re not that important, chicken, geez). I’m really hoping one of the light brown layers isn’t her, because often Welsummers lay very dark brown eggs. This was the reason we got Welsummers at all, so it would be quite a bummer to have no dark eggs after losing two out of three layers.

The Welsummers are honestly a big pain. Obviously, Ser Cock-a-Doodle-Doo has all the loudmouth/violence/freeloader issues common to roosters, but both he and the females (including the one we lost) have been dumb as rocks.

“Aren’t all chickens dumb,” you may ask?   YES. They are SO DUMB. But while they all start off operating solely on instinct, at least the other breeds seem capable of learning. The Welsummers don’t even understand that the red bucket has food in it, say, or that when I’m in the garden if they run over I’ll toss them anything that we can’t eat or that’s wormy. All the other breeds figured out where the food comes from in a hot second. The Welsummers also won’t let you get anywhere NEAR them. For this reason, Mr. Himself up there went around for two whole weeks with a giant amount of poop on his glorious tail feathers, cause he wouldn’t let me help him out. GROSS.

AHEM. All these racist-against-Welsummer points are to say … that last Welsummer female better produce some pretty dark brown spotted eggs already!

Above, you can see how different the egg sizes are for a newbie compared to an egg from one of our one year olds. Look at that teeny-weeny egg!  It is so cute.  The taste is also completely, totally different. The new weensie eggs are frankly super boring and bland. It was the same when our ‘old ladies’ first started laying. It took about three months of laying for the eggs to get decent, and after six months of laying the eggs became fantastic.

The eggs from the ‘full grown girls’ are still significantly smaller than a store-bought egg (about three quarters the size of your standard grocery store ‘large’ egg). However, the yolk is about a third bigger than a yolk from a store-bought extra large egg. And the taste! There is seriously no comparison. I’m not saying we’re saving any money (cause thanks to the fact that we feed these ladies fancy organic chicken food, we clearly lose money), but what other animal can you have that requires so little maintenance yet produces food?

During the summer, it is amazing how often I can make a meal completely out of the garden, or close to it, and that is in part thanks to the chickens. Potatoes and eggs for breakfast, or maybe scrambled eggs with garden herbs, a poached egg over a kale salad for lunch, grilled green tomatoes topped with a mole egg for dinner! Not on the same day, hopefully (eggs are great, but I can’t imagine eating 3+ a day would be good for you!), but it’s so nice to have a home-grown source of protein. This is especially true since I’ve been moving away from majority-meat meals to majority-vegetarian meals.

Thanks, chickens! Now please stop pooping next to the grill. It is nasty.