“Dinosaur Eggs”

We do not raise chickens on our homestead.

We have a chicken coop, built and used by the originating family. It serves mostly as a garden shed right now.

We talk about raising chickens or ducks, but a few key obstacles keep us from taking any action yet. First and foremost, I want to find an alternative to hauling feed over the ridge. Also, we have a really good relationship with our neighborhood predators: mink, ermine, and marten, (okay, maybe not so much the martens—see “Wait Til ‘Marten’ Comes!”) that keep our rodent pest populations in check. I don’t want to change that dynamic by offering them poultry to raid. Finally, there’s the issue of working out an off-grid method for keeping them warm in the winter. I know several ways to do that, it’s just a matter of setting it up.

So, for now, we raise no chickens of our own, but we buy almost all of our eggs from Hainesites who do.

local chicken eggs

A couple of dozen local chicken eggs (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

We get about two dozen eggs each week from local chickens. They’re about 25% more expensive than cage-free grocery store eggs, but the ones we buy have a lot of advantages: they’re fresher, more environmentally friendly (sourced within less than 30 miles from our home—although we don’t know where their feed comes from). Also, since they’re not commercially cleaned, they’re more shelf stable, an advantage for us since we don’t have a refrigerator (see Life Without Refrigeration). We also enjoy the convenience of delivery each week.

The money stays in our community, directly rewarding someone in our town who goes to the trouble of raising chickens. It may not be the most frugal way to get eggs, but it works for us.

Besides, there’s the size!

This surprised me; I’d understood that one of the adjustments of raising chickens for eggs involved adapting to non-standard egg sizes. Particularly, I’d understood that this involved adjusting to smaller pullet eggs.

Not so here. These chickens are producing large eggs. Or, maybe the owners just keep back the pullets for their own use, selling the larger eggs?

We jokingly refer to them as “dinosaur eggs,” because they’re routinely so large the cartons must be held closed with rubber bands!

When we use these eggs, we rarely select for size. If I’m trying a new recipe, particularly if it’s a baking project, I sort the eggs to try to find one that fits commercial size. Each carton provides at least one, maybe two that are that small. Usually, we don’t worry about it, and go for the extra, “dinosaur-sized” eggs.

Zeiger Family homestead garden buildings

The old chicken coop can be seen in the background of the garden, just above the big, light colored rock (Photo: Michelle L. Zeiger).

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