We’ve had chickens now for about a year and a half and a lot has changed from my first ever chicken post, “Picking Up Chicks and Other Manly Things” which you can read here.
Our little feathery friends are always a hot topic of conversation whenever we have guests. Maybe it’s because Dan and I awkwardly stare at them during breakfast, waiting to be told how delicious the eggs are, so we can brag about how they were basically still warm from just being laid. It’s up there on the creep meter, but we don’t care. But there are always a lot of questions that come up and we realized that a lot of people just don’t know that much ‘bout them chickens.
So, first off, chicken is a broad term. It’s kind of like saying, “Human.” The females are called hens and the males are roosters. Got it? Ok. If you’re like, “Duh,” right now, maybe you are just smarter than our average house guest. But don’t forget, most our guests are from up North, where land is scarce, the air is toxic and you can’t marry your cousin.
Probably the most misunderstood thing about chickens is that hens lay eggs, even without a rooster present. And speaking of roosters. Ours is the realest. He doesn’t pretend to only have one BAE when he actually has 23.
And now that we have a rooster, it leads to the next question…are we eating fertilized eggs? Yes. But it’s not like I crack an egg open to make breakfast and have a little chick fly out. That’s silly. Because, I don’t even make breakfast. Dan does. And I’m not sure how many hens our rooster tries to produce some spawn with every day, but i’m just saying…shield your kids eyes if you bring them over here. But If eggs do become fertilized, they need heat. Enter, something called a broody hen, keeping them warm until they hatch. We actually had a broody hen before we got our rooster. She would faithfully sit on those eggs hoping to become a mom. She and I were kindred spirits. Both trying to become a mom with eggs that would never become a baby. But then I got pregnant and was like, “Miracles happen!! But not for you, broody hen. Seriously give it up. Those eggs are duds.” But anyway, eggs that are laid and sit without heat, stops the process of a baby chick so you don’t eat chicken nuggets for breakfast. Phew.
So the eggs we collect, do you actually know how the egg makes its way from chicken to nesting box? I never really thought about it, until one day I did and googled it. And well, some things you can’t unsee. So, you can google it or just go about your ignorance is bliss lifestyle, ok.
One of the cool things about eggs is that they have a protective coating around them which keeps bacteria out, allowing them to sit out and not being refrigerated for weeks. Lucky for us, because Nova found a stash of eggs hidden in our garden. The ones you buy in the store have been stripped of this coating during the sanitation process, which is why they need to be kept cold. And speaking of store bought eggs, by the time they make their way to the store and are picked up by you, it’s been months since those eggs have been laid. Plus, eggs in the grocery store(even the organic) are from chickens with a mostly grain diet. They aren’t free ranging them allowing them to get the minerals they need, which is why you can’t compare the taste of fresh farm eggs vs. your Walmart WIC special.
Here are a few things about chickens diet you might not know. They are everything-vors. They. Eat. Everything. Seeds, vegetables, fruit, snakes (I tested this one out) spiders, ticks, cookies, even mice. Like, don’t even call the exterminator if you have a pest problem, just borrow some chickens for a few days. They also don’t drink too much water, or they will be too heavy to fly. Which reminds me of the birds in New Jersey that hang out by the Rutgers famous “grease trucks.” Those suckers can hardly hop off the ground because they are so fat from all the deliciously disgusting food the grease trucks offer.
And the thing I love most about our chickens is that they can be called, just like a dog. And man, they listen a lot better than our dogs. Just one call of, “Here chicky chickys,” send them into full out t-rex-like sprints towards you. They know that means feeding time and they are always hungry. I’ll throw out a cucumber, and most of the time they are like, “What else you got?” Because they prefer the burnt toast I toss at them way too often(it’s the toaster, ok.) The chickens often recognize the scrap bowl we carry out and start following me even before I call them. And sometimes, it’s just a diaper bag and me carrying Nathan and they surround me like, “That baby looks delicious.”
The boy and girl from New Jersey. The boy who commuted into NYC for years, and the girl who lived there. An unlikely pair to be standing in their kitchen, looking out over their farm. The girl with a baby on her hip and the boy who says, “Our chickens just make me really happy, GC.” And the girl who nods and says, “me too, DC. Me too.”
Home, sweet, home. Chickens and all.