It was only a matter of time before I felt compelled to write about chickens. Yes, I confess to being a chicken lover; and I don’t mean for eating! I love cats and dogs and just about all animals, but chickens give you something pretty special in return for your care: EGGS! I have not purchased eggs for over 10 years, thanks to my hens. I don’t keep chickens to sell eggs; I keep them because, along with the bonus of organic, hormone-free eggs, chickens are the best anti-depressant on the market. They are truly hilarious, full of quirky and amusing behaviors; and, if handled a lot when chicks and pullets (basically babies and teen-agers), they are friendly and like to be picked up and “petted”. When I “talk” to them (OK, I am basically a true nerd) from across the yard, they answer back; when I am feeling down a few minutes in the chicken coop will bring me back into the moment and have me smiling in no time. Keeping hens is not a maintenance free endeavor, I will admit, but once you get your “Fort Knox” (predator safe) chicken coop and hen house set up, it is pretty simple. Unfortunately, keeping chickens is a bit like having a candy store for kids on your property, since practically every other animal will at least try them once. The main predators are fox, raccoon, possum, skunks, coyotes, mountain lions and dogs. Where I live we have all of those, so we have a very secure coop and lock them in the henhouse each night. This past summer we had an explosion of skunks in the area, determined to dig under the buried wire and get in to eat the eggs/chickens. After a skunk killed one of the hens, we started live trapping them (serious animal lover here) and after hauling away over a dozen skunks (how to do that without getting sprayed is a blog unto itself!), we think we have made a dent in their population!
I am only keeping four hens these days, as that is more than enough eggs for us and some to share with friends. Gracie2, an Orpington Buff, is a great layer of brown eggs and mellow personality. Charlotte, (name of King George’s wife) is a big Coronation Lavender Sussex, a rare heirloom variety dating back to King George in Britain. My hands down favorite personality hen is Libby, our Polish Tolbunk (imagine: a little version of Sesame Street’s Big Bird); and our newest member, Gabby, (a runaway from our neighbor’s flock) is a gold Ameraucana laying beautiful light blue eggs and quite the “talker”. She joined us about a month ago, after hanging around our coop for weeks and visiting with our hens, one day I opened the gate to our coop, she walked in, checked out the other “girls” and immediately was part of the group, without any of the usual henpecking transition that occurs when introducing a new hen to the flock. I think she was so glad to get away from the rooster that rules the neighbor’s flock, and pecks away at the hens. She refuses to go back, so is now officially ours. Who says chickens have no brains?
With an article about chickens I have to post a recipe, right? Here is my quick omelet recipe, without frills because fresh eggs taste soooo good you don’t want to mask their flavor with too many additives!
ERIN”S SIMPLE OMELET (makes 1 omelet)
- 2 fresh, organic eggs
- 1 TBSP water
- 1 TBSP butter
- freshly chopped herbs such as: parsley, chives, tarragon, thyme, dill, etc.
Whisk together 2 medium large eggs with 1 TBSP water. Use a non-stick 8″ or 9″ pan with sloping sides, turn on heat to medium low and add the butter. When butter is melting and just starting to bubble pour the beaten eggs into the pan and swirl to make sure eggs are spread evenly throughout the pan. Tilt the pan slightly and with a silicon spatula, gently lift the sides of the mixture and let the uncooked eggs slide underneath the cooked area. Let it cook 2 to 3 more minutes, until the top is mostly cooked, but still soft like custard.
Add herbs and anything else you want at this point; a bit of cheese and some sauteed mushrooms would be nice, but do not pile on ingredients. The point of this omelet is to taste the deliciousness of the fresh eggs! Fold over one side, then carefully slide onto a plate rolling the other side over the top. Sprinkle with fresh herbs, a bit of Parmesan cheese if you like and savor the gifts of the chicken 🙂