Every year growing up we would spend Easter with my godmother, who owned a flock of about 200 chickens. I can still remember two things from that time: the absolute joy of finding eggs in a nest and the wonderful smell of a mixture of scraps, bran and egg shells bubbling away on the Aga day and night, which we would dish out every evening before the chickens went to bed. As a grown up with my own small flock, I still experience that same joy every time I go into the roosting area and find newly laid eggs. Especially with the variety of chickens that I keep, which all lay different coloured eggs.
When you get an egg haul like this it’s really something to celebrate, especially if you crack open the occasional double yolker!
This is a crested legbar. Not only are they a really interesting chicken to keep, but these are one variety that lays blue eggs.
But the question is, do they taste different – the brown egg v the white egg v the blue egg v the conker brown egg? Well, we think that the rare coloured eggs taste better, but actually they don’t. And on a blind tasting you wouldn’t notice any difference at all. But it’s interesting to have a variety of chickens in your flock, and the different egg colours and sizes is just something fun. The smaller eggs are laid by my pekin bantam chickens. Bantams are half the size of a normal chicken and have sweet feathery feet. All my bantam chickens are now living in the salon garden. If you don’t like egg white, but enjoy a reasonably sized yolk, bantam chickens would be your go-to girls to keep.
Quail eggs are a real delicacy and rated as a superfood. Those are the little splotchy eggs in the basket. You shouldn’t really eat more than 4 of them in a day. If you’ve never had a quail egg before, they are much creamier and milder tasting than a hen egg. I like to hard boil them (although they are not the easiest things to peel) and place them on a salad like little white and yellow jewels. I also like them fried and served like an egg pizza.
Why do I keep chickens and quail? Because the eggs taste better, the shells are stronger, I know what’s in the eggs because I know what the chickens are eating, and I know that the chickens have ample opportunity to free range and do all the things a chicken likes to do: in other words eggs is eggs is not a truism. Some eggs are much better because they are laid by happy, healthy hens. And although my quail can’t free range (quails can bong 6 foot in the air and sail over a fence if spooked), they have a sheltered area in which to sleep and lots of space in their aviary to do all the things a quail likes to do.
If you are inspired to keep a few chickens in your backyard, I warn you that your hobby will soon turn into an obsession.
Next time: a new blogger is appointed (eggs is eggs by Mrs Tweedy)