I will never forget the first eggs I collected from my hens. On that fateful day, I collected, not one, but two eggs. They were small, light tan and still warm. I was amazed that I had finally gotten to the point in my journey as a
farmer that I was raising egg-laying hens. One of the things that you soon realize when you have 19 hens is that
you have about 15 eggs daily that you have to get rid of. Eat em, give em away, sell them…do whatever you please, but get rid of the you must, or watch your egg stores continue to rise. I was happy to try to cook with them. Here are a few of the beautiful and delicious things I’ve made.
Raising chickens has been a relaxing past time. Are you aware that they come in the mail? True. They hatch, then the store packs them up in a box with holes, and ships them to you. Prior to hatching, the chicks absorb the remaining portion of the yolk so that they come stockpiled with about 24 hours of internal water and food. It’s during this period that they are shipped. When they arrive ( I got twenty, one of which was DOA unfortunately), you put them in their brooder box (I’ll go over all of this in another blog), introduce them to their water and food (I pushed their beaks into the water to show them where and what the wet stuff in the bowl was) and then about 10 minutes later they are sacked out after their long and stressful journey. They grow quite rapidly. Disappear for a few days and you’ll return to to find that they are visibly bigger and noticeably changed in appearance. I think by the time they were 8 weeks of age, they were already out in the barnyard eating grass and bugs. Yes grass. I was shocked to discover that they love it. They eat it right up. They’re constantly pecking at things, investigating what might and might not be edible. They also eat worms, maggots and flying things. When I run the mower in the field, they rake through the cut grass and eat all the bugs that I’ve lawn- mowered to death. The egg yolks of my grass-fed,
free-rannge hens are a beautiful orange and make anything that you buy in the store look anemic and unhealthful. The eggs also have a very stiff albumin. They don’t sprawl out into a pan, but stand up. They taste better too…they taste…they taste richer I believe is the right word. Richer. I’ve made mayonnaise with them. You know how to make mayonnaise? It’s easy. You plop an egg yolk in a bowl, whisk it with a bit of lemon juice and pinch of salt, and then, very, very slowly, whisk in, dribble, by dribble, oil. An ungodly amount of oil. Recipes call for a cup or more, but my mayonnaise stiffens up long before I get the whole cup in, so I omit the rest. The resulting sauce is truly delicious. Piquant might be the right way to describe it. You know there are many sauces that start out with egg yolks and some kind of fat egg yolk + lemon + butter = hollandaise egg yolk + lemon+ olive oil= aioli egg yolk + lemon + oil =
mayonnaise Each of the sauces above are easy, provided you remember to whisk the ‘fat’ part of the recipe in thoroughly before adding more. I’ll write more on the chickens. It’s hard not to. I am fascinated by them. I’ve learned a lot about people by watching them. I’ve learned a lot about nature as well. Chickens are cruel. They are also driven survivors. They fight for themselves; they fight for their progeny and they fight for their flock. They’re an example, chickens, of what it takes to keep going in this world.