Monday, July 6, 2009

Back to Basics - the Egg

With the current economy come changes. Some for the good, some for the bad. A good friend of mine reported that at this year's upcoming 4-H Fair, there will no longer be premiums offered to winners in each category of achievement. And quite possibly, this year MIGHT be the last year of their County Fair! I was stunned, to say the least. And to top it off, thoughts have been coming to my mind that with all of the government controls, we are gradually loosing a 'way of life' - a way of living that may (or may not) have been taught to us through our mothers, or grandmothers.

I, for one, am saddened to see time pass with all the modern changes. We are helpless to control some of the changes in life - the inventions, like the telephone - they have gone from a mere DREAM to a telegraph, to a 'party line', to digital and cell phones with images. For a fee, we can dial up, text, and send computerized email messages, we can listen to music, snap photos, and google a travel location - all from our telephone! A truly amazing gadget - who would have thought!

Don't get me wrong - I love the modern way of life with ease of doing things. It leaves more time for the really important things - family and friends, community service and worship service! What is rapidly disappearing in many a daily life is The Basics - the "good things" that used to be part of everyone's way of life. I would like to go back to 'Basics' in my way of living, so I've been exploring some of the ways to do this, and practicing it in small and simple ways. I want to keep some personal control in these times of 'government control', and today I will write about a basic that most of us are familiar with - the EGG.

I raised some chicks this year, and they are growing up to be beauties! Mr. Wonderful built them a cottage, they have their names on the door. They even have a Motivational Sign posted above the nest boxes!But, what do you know about all the various kinds of eggs in the store - REALLY??? The labels tout all sorts of brief info to make you 'feel good' about selecting their brands. Here's some tips...

Cage Free, Free Range or Free Roaming - This means the hens have been allowed access to the outside. Usually the laying hens are raised in large flocks in big open chicken warehouses rather than in stacked cages. They can walk around and flap their wings and stretch. It is probably very limited, and can be on dirt or concrete flooring rather than pasture. Cage Free, in USDA standards, does not mean outdoor access.

Certified Organic - This means the egg production methods comply with the USDA's National Organic Program which includes organic, vegetarian feed, no use of antibiotics, and no cages. Debeaking and forced molting by starvation are allowed. Organic standards require maintaining living conditions which accomodate health and natural behavior of the chickens. On large organic chicken farms, it may mean nothing more than a small door opening onto a concrete yard.
Certified Humane - Humane Farm Animal Care operates a certification program specifying that laying hens are uncaged, with access to perches, nest boxes, and dust-bathing areas. There are stocking maximums, but outdoor access is not required. Beak trimming (but not debeaking) is allowed; starvation to induce molting is prohibited.

Omega 3 - ALL eggs contain small amounts of omega-3 fatty acides, thought to be beneficial to human health. Omega-3 levels in eggs can be raised by supplementing the birds' diet with fish oil, flax seed, or alfalfa meal (or by simply allowing the birds to forage on lawn or pasture).

As for me, my "feel good" comes from purchasing eggs through a local farmer who allows his hens to roam in an outside enclosure. They are 'pastured' hens. They can pick and choose their delicacies as they please, supplemented by scratch feed and vegetable trimmings. They have sand baths. They have been allowed to keep their BEAKS! I plan to do this until my hens begin laying this fall, and I will have first hand knowledge as to what they are eating, what is fed. Mr. Wonderful bought a book called "Avoid the Vet", which is about raising chickens on a small scale. Very good reading, and a great way to learn natural chicken care.

Please visit again for more "Back to Basics"!


Chatty Crone said...

I LOVE your BACK TO THE BASIC column. Very interesting. I usually buy the ones with the Omega 3. We don't have the fresh ones here by me. We do have a chicken processing plant in the area and I feel sorry for the chickens - caged and hot. They do have fans going on them, but still.

Angela said...

WOW!!! I did not know that they debeak chickens!

I try to buyh egglands best eggs as we think they taste the best and look the best and are always the freshed tasting eggs from the store. I do have a couple of neighbors who have chickens. One in particular is next door and she probably has 50+ chickens! She pens them up at night and lets them run free all over her farm during the day.

Looks like I should see if she sells her eggs. The sad thing is that we live on a farm but my husband just doesn't want to get any critters! lol He really doesn't want any chickens running free in our yard because of their potty habbits. hehehe

Oh well, if things keep going the way they have been I'm sure I'll be getting chickens even if he doesn't want any because we will need them to survive! Since I do live on a farm that is out away from the city we have well water and our septic tank. We also have free gas! Praise the Lord! So, we are pretty self sufficient in that way. I would love to have our garden to produce enough to can some this year. We will see. So far it is going good because we have been getting some rain this summer. I'm looking forward to picking some blackberries in a few short days!

God Bless!


Olde Dame Penniwig said...

I'm all for modern conveniences but the way meat, egg, and dairy products are obtained in the U.S. is a big black eye, in my humble opinion, on our character.

Too much government control, yes! And why? Because some people clamored for it, wanting the government to step in constantly! I could scream.

Now, few places allow "old time" living. No, can't have a chicken or two. No, can't have a clothesline! No, can't have a gravel drive instead of concrete, no, can't have your house turned for solar gain, no, can't berm it, etc etc and etc!!!

farmlady said...

Keep informing folks about the deplorable conditions in most production farms. You can get even more detailed if you want. The more they know about what they eat, the less those products will sell. That's a good way to change things.

The revolution is coming soon.

Barb said...

Great idea.
I'm always on the look out for new things to make nests out of.
Really should be getting Fall things ready, not making nests. =0))

We have a butterfly bush but no visible roots. Seems like they would be bigger, which would make great big nests. Harder to find things for the teeny tiny ones.

Barbara Jean

PS Got one of my Projects done for Get R Done Friday!!! Oh, make that two now.