|Our eggs, ranging from brown, pink, green, blue, and white.|
If you live in the U.S., you've likely experienced rising prices on run-of-the-mill grocery store eggs, both white and brown. A virulent strain of avian flu spread through industrial sized chicken farms in the American midwest and west coast earlier this year, with the latest outbreak occurring in Iowa about a week ago.
The good news, at least according to this USDA map linked here, is the epidemic is clearly slowing down. The bad news is tens of millions of factory chickens were put down in an attempt to halt the spread of the virus, and many states, including North Carolina, are taking wise precautionary moves and stopping poultry shows and auctions for the rest of the year.
The carton of eggs above were not purchased from a chain grocery store, nor were they bought from a local farmer. They were laid by our very own small flock of hens, of various breeds and funny hybridizations. I started keeping chickens in the spring of 2010. I now have nearly two dozen birds which range on our one acre property, foraging off the land after a breakfast of supplemental feed.
My birds are all healthy and thriving. However, I have not introduced any new animals to the flock and have been very careful to not visit other back yard flocks or be around other poultry. I prefer to keep things in the family...
That's me, our son James, and our two sweetest and broodiest hens, Sweet Pea the silkie chicken (held by James) and Umcka the blue wyandotte. These two girls are our best mothers, with Umcka having hatched and raised the majority of our past and current generation of hens and three docile roosters.
Sweet Pea is currently broody at the moment, sitting on a clutch of her very own (and 100% silkie!) eggs.
If you're been affected by the rising costs of eggs, or are concerned about the quality of the eggs and chicken meat from industrial chicken farms, perhaps now is the time to check out your local farmer's market or reach out to a trusted friend who keeps chickens.
Free range and ranged eggs are infinitely better than factory eggs. The yolks are actually orange, and the fullness in flavor is hard to describe. To put it simply, once you try a true free range egg, standard grocery store eggs will always pale in comparison.
Until next time, let's go... make an omelette!