I cannot do justice to the flavor and savor of our fried egg breakfast this morning. The creamy texture of the yolk... yum, I love my eggs right on top of the toast.
The two hens that layed these eggs are 8 months old, we could have encouraged them to lay earlier with a light in the barn, but it is a cold time of year to start laying eggs, so we let them concentrate their feed on keeping warm and growing to full size, and knew that they would start laying when the light approaches 12 hours. There is another batch of hens just now 6 months old who should start laying eggs this month as well.
This picture was taken a few months ago, they are now grown to full size. This is our first home-incubated brood, we crossed a Plymouth Barred Rock rooster over the commercial laying hen, called Isa Brown, which is a cross between Rhode Island Red and Rhode Island White. They came out with four distinct coloring, some more attractive than others, and had the vigour of hybrid crosses.
This rooster shows the characteristics of both parents, and even has some iridescent green feathers in his tail like the Rhode Island Red. The hens that look like the Barred Rock are just that, and do not have the red and green feathers. And there is a kind of White Barred Rock hen, the one who layed the first egg, who, to be honest, is not the most attractive of the bunch and looks a bit sooty. But she is the biggest hen, and won the prize for the golden egg.
We have been feeding our chickens our own wheat and rye, without any other protein supplement. Last year we ran into problems feeding soy to our chickens, they had underdeveloped organs, and did not gain weight. After doing some research, we decided to cut the soy out of the feed. The wheat and rye are 13-14% protein, and the pullets are growing well. With this mix, we may not get an egg a day on a pure grain diet, but when they are out on pasture, the protein will be supplemented in a more digestible form. This summer we will also be growing more peas and amaranth to add to the winter ration.
So, with eggs and milk back on the menu, I am revisiting old favorite recipes with a greater appreciation. I am also glad to know first-hand that resource rich foods like dairy, eggs and meat can be incorporated as seasonal foods, with a bit of substitution and creativity in the kitchen.