I’ve seen chickens on farms before, but it’s been a very long time. Pico, the sole staff member at Picaflor, has sent me to gather today’s eggs while he prepares feed by grinding maize by hand.
That was 4 and a half years ago. Things have changed. A lot. For one thing, I wasn’t vegetarian at the time, so I didn’t care that the eggs were fertilized. And a few seasons ago, I spent an entire summer exchanging farm labour for room and board. No more shooing away laying hens — now they’re my favourite barnyard friends!
Taking care of laying hens is really easy. They like food, water, fresh air, and fresh greens. Hauling the heavy bags of feed is the most challenging part, but taking them out and finding yourself in the middle of a ruckus in the hen house is so much fun. Throw them a couple handfuls of grass and leaves and watch them go nuts.
Store-bought eggs taste like water compared to fresh eggs. I’ve heard one reason may be because store eggs can be up to six months old, but I’m convinced it’s also due to the quality of life of battery hens. Fed animal parts, living in their own feces with no room to move, no fresh air, and no greens to snack on, how can such stressed creatures produce healthy food?
If finding local eggs is impossible (and it shouldn’t be), try duck eggs from your local food co-op (I’m a member of Eat Local Sudbury). Canadian regulations prevent the sale of uninspected chicken eggs (fresh, local eggs are not usually inspected), but duck eggs may be sold in local food stores.
While I’ve yet to raise my own hens, it’s definitely part of my medium-term plan. Last summer, my parents kept six laying hens to supply our immediate family. My turn will come once I’m out of an apartment!
Still, if my parents decide to raise more hens this year, I may have a few dozen available at the Land of the Voyageurs Farmers Market.
So here’s another way going green can eventually help supplement income, and I’m looking forward to it!