Chickens molt. When they do, they do not lay eggs. For the last couple of weeks my hens have been shedding their summer feathers and putting on their winter coats. I hate when it happens as I am forced, usually, to buy eggs from the store or the farmer’s market. The other day I was down to my last farm egg and needed more. My only choice that day was the grocery store. I was sad. I had a right to be.
I used the first of the store bought brown orbs and the last egg laid by one of my hens before they started changing clothes when baking up my favorite six ingredient brownies. The difference in quality was apparent. The store bought egg, which was touted as natural and cage free, had the palest yolk and runny white. My hen’s egg had a very orange yolk and tight white. The chickens I keep eat organic food, get organic six grain scratch, vegetable scraps, fresh water, and they dig for worms everyday. They are happy, fat and lovely ladies who show their gratitude by giving me superior stuff.
When I looked down in the bowl at the one good egg and one not so good egg I realized just how lucky I am to have home grown ingredients to work with for most of the year. On my very small urban farm there have been fresh herbs, mints, tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, berries, and eggs. It all takes work, and the chickens take the most time and attention.
I complain about having to get up very early in the morning during the summer to feed them so they don’t wake the neighbors with all the noise they make if they have to wait for their scratch. I hate having to remove the debris from the run and hen house as it is a dirty, smelly job if I wait too long between cleanings, although the droppings make my compost even richer and will contribute to the success of the crops I will plant in the spring.
The day I cracked that horrid excuse for a cage free natural egg I realized how the work pays off. For my labor, and the labor of the hens, I get the most amazing eggs to bake with and to eat all by themselves. So, to Penny, Buffy, Laverne, and Bruiser Woods I say “thanks girls” for giving up what could have been your children. I appreciate it, especially when I have to buy sub-par eggs from the box store!