Monday, March 19, 2012

Eggs: a confession

It wasn't my fault. Hens just don't lay when the days are short. We had dozens and dozens of eggs in the fridge in December. I traded a few, I baked a few angel food cakes, did the holiday baking, and then..there were no more eggs.! Not one single, solitary egg, alone in a carton meant for, not even that.

What to do?? I did..the unthinkable. I..bought..*sobs* eggs! I couldn't help it!! I needed to bake cookies...what was I supposed to do? No, I didn't buy the super-expensive-organic-free-range-but-not-really-free-range-eggs. I bought the least expensive ones I could find. Grade A Large Eggs at $1.99 a dozen.

The last time I bought store eggs, which was ages ago, the expensive ones were $.79 a dozen. So the price was a bit of sticker shock. I hadn't even glanced at the price of eggs in at least a year. They've gone up a bit. *rolls eyes*

I opened the carton in the store, to make sure the eggs were all intact. What the heck?? The carton was full of tiny white chalky golf ball looking things. What are those things? They sure don't look like eggs to me! this point I have to admit I'm a little nutty. Or maybe nuttier than a fruit cake topped with a can of Planter's. When I got home, I lectured the chickens. *blush*

"You should be ashamed!", I told them, "I had to buy some pitiful store eggs produced by some poor caged hen that has never seen the light of day, let alone fresh grass!"

I guess my lecture worked (or the days started getting a tad longer). Within the week, we were getting eggs again. Just one every other day or so. Now we are up to three eggs a day, which is at least enough to get some baking done.

For those of you that don't keep chickens: hens need a minimum amount of daylight to produce eggs. Most hens need 14 hours for peak production, but certain breeds will lay with less light. Black Stars are great layers for winter. We actually only went for about two months with no egg production.

Our hens are not actually free range. They used to be, but now we have a new rooster with the hens, and he's aggressive, so we keep the chickens penned. But they still have access to fresh pasture, clean water, and free choice feed. And when I say they have access, I mean that they spend most of the day out there pecking and scratching around, doing the chicken dance, and having a good time.

I point this out because of some recent controversy about what free range really means. Seems that some have decided to use the term for hens that are not really free range.

Here is a break down of the nutrition in store eggs vs free range eggs.

This is a good example of the yolk of free range hens vs store eggs. The big yolk on the left that is a dark orange came from our hens. The pale yellow came from a store egg.

And for size comparison:

The little white egg on the right is a store egg. The brown one is from our hens.

Yes! A sure sign of spring..a green egg! Those are laid by our Araucana hen. That's the only color she lays. Inside, it looks just like a regular egg. And no, they aren't always so pointy.

The carton for Grade A Large eggs won't close with our eggs inside. Neither will the carton for Extra Large. Jumbo is a tight fit.

I love our hens!!


Anonymous said...

Great write-up! Wow, those are some big eggs! Once again, wish you were close, LOL!

Country Wife said...

Thanks!! Our flock now is about twice as big as when I did this post, so we haven't run out of eggs since. In fact, we have more than enough to share...if you were closer! lol