Saturday, August 1, 2009

Free Range Chicken Family

Left to their own devices, chickens will act like wild birds, build nests in fields, lay eggs and, when they hatch teach the young ones to forage and, I suppose, cultivate their chicken identity. We don't have a lot of chickens on the farm (maybe a dozen) and all of them live out in the open like these. The picture is not great but if you squint you can see 4-5 chicks scratching around at the base of the tree.

Now, because the chickens live outside almost full time, they get taken down by predators pretty regularly. You'd suppose that given the dangers of living in the open air, they would choose to spend more time in the barn. But they don't. There's feed at the barn too, but they don't spend much time on it in the summer when the fields are full of juicy bugs. And it's a good thing for us that they do, because those bugs get translated by chicken guts into really great tasting eggs -when you can find them. See, true free range chickens like these hide their eggs all over the place and it sometimes takes a hour just to pick up a half dozen.
Too bad we can't train them to roll them by their beaks down to the barn.

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Jessika said...

I guess it's the chicken identity you want when you are free ranging chickens after all :). Do you have those chickens that come from the breed (? -- have forgotten the proper name and am too lazy to find my English dictionary) that lay blue or green eggs?

Tags said...

Looks like you're gonna have to teach those chickens jujutsu so they can hang around longer and give us more eggs.

Tags said...

BTW, Bob, do the bugs have the same salutary effect on the flavor of the meat of the chicken as they do on the eggs?

Bob del Grosso said...

Yeah, some but not all of the chickens are Araucana chickens

I've never done a blind tasting off eggs from different breeds living under the same conditions (I should). But my impression is that the blue, sometimes green, eggs of the Araucanian have the richest flavor and most unctuous texture.

Have not eaten any of the birds, so I don't know how they tastes. I'm sure the flavor would be over the top given how much these birds run.

Lou said...

My rather brilliant insights on the state of free-range chickens in Puerto Rico. It's an old site, but it all still holds true. We no longer have the chicken house; the birds are completely free.

Jennifer S said...

Here's to the really tasty eggs!

The coolest thing I've seen this week was two chickens pecking at the grass of a house on the corner of one of our town's big intersections. We walked within a couple feet of them on the sidewalk, and they were just doing their normal thing.

Deborah Dowd said...

So much nicer than the chicken houses that my grandparents kept their chickens in! I remember gathering eggs as a kid- an egg "treasure hunt" would have been even better!

Walt said...


"See, true free range chickens like these hide their eggs all over the place and it sometimes takes a hour just to pick up a half dozen."

This could save me alot of time on Easter morning. Do they come hard boiled and painted?

Thanks Bob, for this little "nugget" of information, I learned something new this morning.