28 March 2012

Hens Out Back

With Clay now peacefully at rest, my mom has been able to hatch (hahaha!) a plan she's been scheming for a while.  She always enjoyed our poultry and during her visits, she was the first to race out to the coop every day to collect eggs.  For a few dozen, I could work her to death fixing up my house and she'd still leave happy.  I really think I got the better end of the bargain.
Black Giant chicks
My chickens are all long gone but yesterday, my mom picked up several adorable chicks she fully intends to keep out back.  Unlike me, she does not live in the country but rather in a quiet neighborhood.  Thankfully, Lincoln permits hens to be kept within city limits, allowing enthusiasts to collect fresh eggs from their own backyard flock.  I have warned Jack should we ever need to live in the city again, I'll be getting my own chickens.  He just rolls his eyes.
Maylay chicks
If you've never had a fresh, free-range hen egg, you've really missed out on something.  Store bought eggs are fine but if you crack it open next to a free-range hen egg, there's no comparison.  Hens that are allowed to roam, scratch and forage for bugs lay eggs with a deep yellow yolk, a springy, firm albumen and white and a thick shell.  The biggest difference is the overall superior taste.  Happy hens make way better eggs.
Silver Laced Wyandotte (like my favorite hen Queeny...)
A friend of mine visited our farm a few years ago and I made some pancakes and scrambled eggs straight from our coop.  She mentioned she wasn't quite sure how she felt about eating something that'd just fallen out of a hen a few minutes previous.  I can't deny I felt the same hesitancy the first couple times eating our hens' eggs, but I quickly overcame it.  I really like the idea of knowing where my food came from and that any animal sources lead a content, enjoyable, cage-free life.
A little mutt chick.  I have a soft spot for mutts, including poultry.
My mom's modest flock will hopefully (depending on who ends up being roosters and hens) consist of several heritage breeds that are not commercially used.  While she searched for those illusive breeds, she met Cleo, an elderly woman who has a veritable gold mine of champion, show-quality breeds.  Through a few minutes conversing with her, my mother discovered that my great-great grandfather, Dr. Lamb delivered her as a baby.  To add to the excitement, her friend lives in his old house and gave my mother a tour.  Apparently it's still even got the original apothecary table where Dr. Lamb mixed medications for his patients.  What a small world!
When these (again, hopefully) girls start laying, they'll produce a rainbow of egg colors--everything from white to brown to pink or green.  In return, they'll gobble up table scraps, keep pesky bugs out of the garden and provide plenty of entertainment for grandchildren.  And me.

And you?  Would you ever consider keeping hens in your backyard?

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