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One Egg, Two Egg, Brown Egg, Green Egg

Posted by kevinwolz on June 6, 2010

Chickens will probably be my first purchase once I have my own place after college. Why? Well, the obvious reason is for the eggs; I love eggs and have them just about every morning for breakfast. However, the eggs I eat probably aren’t the eggs you’re used to…I mean check out these weird lookin things:

Speggtacular!

Don’t be fooled though: Just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge an egg by its shell. All chicken eggs taste and look the same on the inside, regardless of whether they’re brown, white, green, or whatever, provided they were raised the same way. The shell color merely varies between breeds. In the U.S., we are most familiar with white eggs simply because the factory farmers decided to use a breed with white shells, and it stuck. In the U.K., however, brown eggs are the popular choice. My eggs come in all shapes, colors, and sizes; they are not forced to uniformity. To me, dozens of identical eggs are about the same thing as dozens of identical people. That’s just not right, and, quite frankly, pretty boring!

Chickens are good for much more than just eggs, however. They also weed, debug, fertilize, and aerate your garden! What a combo! They enjoy doing it too, so there’s almost no effort needed on your part. Caring for chickens is SUPER easy. Learning how to do this was on my To Do List, and I was expecting a solid day of chicken education…it ended up taking no more than a five-minute conversation. During the summer, chickens can survive mostly on forage around your garden, including weed seeds, small bugs, and kitchen scraps. At night, chickens need to be protected from predators such as opossums, raccoons, and foxes. Most of the time, the time chickens will retreat to their coop at dusk, where you can then close the door for the night. Aside from that, a little water and plenty of room to roam are all these babies need.

There’s a common myth that chickens are loud and smelly, and are therefore inappropriate for the suburban or urban backyard. However, as with most agricultural myths, these unwanted traits only arise if you are doing something WRONG: in particular, if the chickens are too crowded or confined.

As if chickens weren’t cool enough on their own, let’s now add engineering to the mix. I recently helped Lance over at Wild Abundance Farm construct a “star dome” for their chickens. The design is based on a traditional Asian model and is meant to be cheap, lightweight, and easy to construct. Using flexible pipes and some twists ties (as opposed to the traditional material of bamboo), we easily made the frame in less than two hours. The frame will then be covered with chicken wire and the dome will be used to rotationally graze the chickens in particular parts of the yard/garden. I must admit that the geometry had me puzzled for a while…we are such a square society.

Care to avoid whiplashing poles was necessarily taken...most of the time. Oh, and you may also have noticed the sleek new solar thermal panels on the house in the background...yeah, this place is cool.

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