photo by Sheri Dixon

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Very Sad Brunch

Well, not the entire brunch.

We had bacon, which is always a winner. Not too crispy, but not all limp and fatty either.

There was pecan banana bread made with the one over ripe banana we had left and last year's pecans still in the freezer.

No. The sad part was the eggs.

Don't get me wrong- they were lovely- beautiful whites framing perky deep golden yolks- obviously from our healthy free range chickens who spend all day every day eating bugs and plants and only pecking at the scratch I toss at them out of politeness.

There were 7 eggs in the carton. 7 eggs in the pan gently fried up in real butter.

And that's the end of them.

That's the sad part.

Our chickens free range- not that "put 'em in a big cage with a wire bottom and haul them from spot to spot" bogus free ranging which is really what every single free range egg you buy at the store really is.

Our chickens never see the inside of a coop. They're out scrounging up their own grub (literally) from dawn till dusk and then fly (yes. chickens fly.) up into the trees right outside our bedroom window for the night.

Which is good because the eggs are outstandingly delicious and so orangey yellow people have called me to ask what's wrong with them- the egg yolks from the store are that 'normal' tinted mucous color and they ooze down to be almost even with the whites.

I assume out of embarrassment.

The only negative in this whole arrangement is that true free range chickens are not Human Property, they are part of the Food Chain. So there's a fair amount of...attrition by coyote and hawk.

So several times a year I either hatch out a new batch of chicks (if the hens are not setting on their own) or purchase a box of pullets from the hatchery to keep us always in between 1 and 2 dozen laying hens at all times.

And while the lives of the individual chickens is generally wildly shorter on our little farm, I can't help thinking while watching them break off into natural flocks and working their territories- with hardly a cockfight or mutilated hen on the place, things that are all too common when they're kept penned in close (but safe) quarters- that the life they have here is more satisfying and rewarding for them.

Yes. Whether or not a chicken lives a happy life is important.

We're getting ready to move in a few months (hopefully sooner) and that entails catching and moving all our critters- horse, goats, chickens, ducks, guinea hens and cats. Some will be easy to move, some will be a challenge, and the poultry will be tricky at best, maddeningly frustrating at worst. With that in mind, I've not replenished the flock and we've now got 5 roosters and 6 hens. Three of those hens are over 2 years old, so not laying reliably anymore, but considering they've probably given us over 750 eggs EACH, letting them live out their retirement years seems a fairer deal than making 'em into soup.

With the days getting shorter, even the young hens stop laying reliably, so we're down to frozen eggs from the month plus we were in Houston and poor Joe was drowning in eggs- when we came home we froze almost 20 dozen, which are great to cook and bake with, but freezing changes the consistency so for breakfast they come up lacking.

So we ate the last of the fresh eggs today till probably late spring- I'll buy more chicks as soon as we move, and they'll start laying by May or June.

I'm afraid what it boils down to is that my family is spoiled when it comes to food.

Oh, I don't buy name brand anything, and very very little processed food at all- I cook and bake from scratch not just because I enjoy it, but because that way I KNOW what we're eating because I put the ingredients in my own self and didn't just trust the picture on the front of the box.

We ate the last of the eggs talking of other things, the sunshine yellow yolks smiling up at us from between the warm banana bread and the bacon and then they were gone.

It's a long way to May, but I'm trying to look at it the same way I look at fruits and vegetables- I never buy sweet corn or tomatoes or other short-season stuff out of their natural times because the imposters shipped in during the rest of the year are so much more than a disappointment, they're a disgrace to the produce section.

That a great majority of our populace thinks eggs with the consistency of snot, corn that's more starch than sugar and tomatoes that taste like...nothing... are normal, and healthy,, makes me simultaneously very sad and explains not only the acceptance but the embrace of McAnything served up in a styrofoam box.


  1. That should make it a 'very happy brunch', gracie. Now it's time for baked goods wafting through the morning air.

    Good post.

  2. Love and attachment are so much stronger when the loved thing is fleeting-- a rose blossom, good produce, life.