Thursday, March 10, 2011
Green Eggs - Where's the Ham?
I love fresh eggs and those in the super market are days old when we buy them. These fresh eggs came from interesting chickens, I'm sure, because the eggs are green on the outside. Of course, inside, as you can see, the yolk is very yellow and the whites don't run all over the pan. That is the sign of a fresh yard egg.
For my city friends, we call these yard eggs because the chickens are not penned up, but feed on grass and bugs, not some chemically mixed feed with unknown particles of animals and grain.
If I had enough room and enough energy to care for them, I'd love to have a few laying hens. I remember how my mother fed her big Bardrock and White Leghorn chickens. Although they ran lose and were able to forage on natural food, she would sometimes throw out leftover bread. The feathered group would run to her like they were starving, but of course they were not.
My favorite chickens were the little ones. I love the photo on Brenda Kay Ledford's blog today. A close up of golden bitties or is it biddies? Sometimes in early spring when it was a bit too cold, a little pen full of baby chicks warmed near the heater. We enjoyed chickens and were thankful for them as we ate eggs every day.
How differently I came to feel about them years later. Like many farmers trying to hold on to their land, my family built chicken houses - huge long buildings with small cages that held four chickens. They spent their lives crowded in those cages where they laid eggs every day. I couldn't bear to go there. I was assured that was the way it had to be for the farmer and the wholesaler to make any money.
The stench from those chicken houses was another reason I changed my feelings about chickenss. Although the chicken farm was as far from our houses as possible, when the wind blew a certain way, it carried the smell of those miserable chickens with it.
Few of those types of chicken farms still exist in our area here in NC nor in the place I grew up. I am grateful for that.
However, in many places today cows are not pastured anymore, but kept in small feed lots until they get to the right weight, and then they are butchered. Dairy cows are done the same way. The commercials on television want us to believe that our milk comes from cows that roam over nice green fields, the way they did on our farm when I was young. But most of them, today, never see a green field.
Here in our mountains where life is slow and people still cling to the old ways, chickens run out, cows graze on green hills, and little yellow chicks are not just for sale at Easter time.