May 14, 2010
by Gareth Mark
After cracking open this first egg from The Ladies of Stumptown Savoury I am redefining "fresh" as it applies to eggs. Note how thick the inner white is, how the yolk is tall and well-defined. This egg was opened less than 2 hours after it was laid.
(The Ladies were too busy to pose for pictures. A chicken's work is never done, you know.)
The egg had much more flavor than the eggs I've purchased from the store, which comes as no surprise. I expect that over the next month their eggs will get even tastier and richer, and the yolks will become more deeply orange, because they're getting organic feed now. I don't know, and really don't want to know, what they were fed previously.
Two laying hens should produce about a dozen eggs a week. They're also producing copious amounts of manure for the compost pile. All-in-all, they seem to be well on the way to paying for themselves.
Some of you will be curious, so here's an expense rundown. The coop, which is actually a rabbit hutch, cost $140. I probably could have built one for less, but I have no carpentry skills. Fencing was $60. Feed, a 50 pound bag, organic, $20. Oyster shell for grit was $9. There were a few miscellaneous expenditures as well. The Ladies--they don't have names, although Lucy and Ethel seem appropriate--were $20 each, being one-year-old laying Rhode Island Reds.
I chose to start with adult layers so I could get eggs right away. The next chickens I buy I'll get pullets ready to go outside and save a good chunk of money. Maybe it'll save money, except I'd have to buy different feed. I don't know if I want to start with chicks and have to deal with keeping them warm and all that. I might leave that to others.
So, for about $300, I'm now an urban chicken farmer. They'll cost less to maintain than a dog or cat, and they produce breakfast food. Sounds like a winning combination. Now, if I can just get them to lay enough eggs to make a soufflé....