Chickens are eco-friendly. They give us eggs, meat, fertilizer, eat bugs, food scraps, weeds, entertain us and so much more. Raising a backyard flock teaches us life lessons, especially children through the feeding and care of them. Myself and my children, and now grandkids, have many fond memories of watching eggs hatch, enjoying the new life and the fun of holding fuzzy chicks, the excitement of seeing your hens lay their first eggs and the daily egg hunt. Also being connected to your Sunday dinner, breeds thankfulness because of the experience – knowing where your food comes from and how it was raised and the work it took to get it there.
No egg bought in the store tastes like home grown eggs from your backyard flock fed on a supplement diet of table scraps and alfalfa hay. The yolks are so deep yellow orange, you almost think something must be wrong. But the taste, wow! It is so rich the only way I can describe it is that the taste is akin to the richness of a good hollandaise sauce. Some of my favorite chicken breeds are Wyandotte a heritage breed and Americaunas which were developed in the 1970s.
In my last flock, I had several of these hens. The Wyandotte breed was bred in America and dates back to the late 1800s. They come in many colors, I had silver laced and golden laced. They are good for both meat and eggs and make good mothers. As meat chickens, they were very tasty – we had a few too many roosters. When preparing the chicken, skin it – the whole skin feather and all – instead of the dunk and pluck method. Their beautiful feathers can be used to make jewelry and hatbands. I believe it is a good practice to use every part of an animal that we can, just like our forefathers did. My Wyandotte eggs are more pink than brown in color if I remember correctly and they laid regularly for me.
My friendliest hens were Americaunas breed from the Chilean breed of rumples chickens, meaning they have no tail feathers who lay blue eggs, the Araucana. My Americaunas laid various tinges from pale green to light blue – what beautiful eggs! They are curious looking birds with feather tufts under their eyes and they come in both standard chicken size and bantam (mini chicks) and in many colorations. When I would sit on the milking bench watching them scratch through the hay in the barn – by the way they were great at keeping the flies at bay – they would hop up next to me and eventually, right into my lap. They liked to be petted.
Then one day, one sat up on my shoulder which is a weird experience as they are big birds. This all led to a great surprise one day as one of my Americaunas hens few up to my shoulder while I was standing. All I could think of was to guard my face from those big feet. She landed her mark – right up on my shoulder. To say the least, I was well aware of this happening so from them on, I had to warn visitors and watch out for her myself. I have had chickens follow me and want to hang out with me before, but these hens were the friendliest hens we ever had.