On the Secret Dangers of Chicken Keeping February 6, 2012

I used to love eating breakfast out. My family seldom eats out, actually; we do so maybe four times a year… but once upon a time, my favorite eat-out meal was the weekend mid-morning breakfast. It was just a treat. I loved going to one of the many ridiculous “down home” style chain restaurants, and ordering a big country style breakfast with all the extras. Even better, I used to enjoy a greasy local diner with lots of truckers, noise and strong coffee. Those folks knew how to eat, and how to keep a cup hot.

But having chickens will change that guilty pleasure for you forever–it’s one of the great dangers of keeping chickens. Seriously, you will never be able to enjoy an omelet out, again. After eating your own fresh eggs from hens with access to pasture, suddenly you realize how those mass produced factory farm eggs are thin and pale and tasteless. Goodbye “breakfast out.” Goodbye forever!

The worst was discovering that it really didn’t matter how fancy the restaurant was–their eggs all tasted like cardboard, even when being served organic, free range eggs from a five star resort. Unless the hens have access to grass somewhere (and “free range” doesn’t mean pastured), the eggs are going to be tasteless. My best bet now–if I must–is getting Ollie’s Special at the diner, which is an omelet smothered in chili. I didn’t used to care for that much, because you couldn’t taste the eggs. But now I prefer it… because you can’t taste the eggs. But when that’s the case, why eat out? We haven’t been to the diner in years.

You see what keeping chickens will do to you! I’m just giving you fair warning.

It came on us slowly, too, because we don’t go out to eat much. You eat your own chickens delicious eggs, and they do taste better. But it really doesn’t seem that noticeable at first, or it didn’t to us. We thought a lot of our extra enjoyment from our own eggs might just be pleasure from enjoying the fruits of our chicken-keeping labors, knowing that our eggs were from happy birds, or even just finding the appearance of the deeply colored yolks far more attractive. However, the next time we went out for breakfast–after having eaten our own eggs for a few months–my husband and I both thought the food tasted, well, a little off. Maybe it was just a new cook, we thought. Maybe we were coming down with something. Maybe they had given us yolk-free egg beaters by mistake. After two or three more tries over the course of a year, though, it became clear that the problem was restaurant eggs in general. It wasn’t just that they were pale and ugly. They also lacked flavor; they were old.”I’ve ruined us,” I told my husband finally, in despair. “We’re ruined. We can never eat eggs out again.”

Tears were shed, and gave us a good reason to escape and leave the tasteless mounds of yellow on our plates. “She’s, uh, pregnant…” managed my husband, trying to give an explanation for my blubbering.

“LIES!” I cried. “Lies!”

He deftly maneuvered me out the door. “‘Pies,’ she said. She wants some pies. It’s a craving; we have to get home now and get her some delicious pies for the baby! Bye now,” he called.

I like to think they still tell tales of the crazy pregnant lady who wanted pies so much that she burst into tears. And also that they thought “Wow, she doesn’t look pregnant,” because I wasn’t.But I digress.

Now, our eggs and our omelets are made at home. That’s a good thing, mind you, and I make a MEAN omelet.

Lissa's Homemade Portabella and Vidalia Omelet

Lissa's Homemade Portabella and Vidalia Omelet

However it also means that a big weekend breakfast can no longer be a relaxing affair for me. Gone are the halcyon days of perusing an extensive menu and choosing something for someone else to prepare for me. Gone are the days of enjoying someone else’s deviled eggs, or getting an egg salad sandwich anywhere but at home. No quiche or frittatas can be ordered out. There will be no hard boiled eggs on an ordered Cobb Salad. The compensation, of course, is that first of all, all your egg dishes have the potential to kick some serious butt. And secondly, you can ruin your friends for factory eggs, too. The first dozen are free, I always tell them!

So these are the little talked about dangers of chicken keeping: you will eventually realize how tasteless eggs were BEFORE your chickens. You will refer to time as either BCE (Before the Chicken Era) or CE (Chicken Era).

“In the year 20 BCE, I was little and liked breakfast buffets, but by 15 BCE, I had outgrown the whole buffet thing and had moved on to omelets,” you can say.

Or, “In the year 4 CE, Hazel laid all those double yolkers–they were the sunniest side up eggs of any eggs that ever sunned a side up.” See how that works?

So, please don’t say you were never warned. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Make your choice carefully.

16 Comments
Ozark Homesteader February 6th, 2012

We started with pastured eggs from friends, but I really wanted to go 100% organic, so thanks to you, we now have our own eggs. (Okay, I’m using a different organic feed, but the hens came from you.) Our Buff Orpingtons have been laying for a month. The Easter Egger laid her first today. I had a friend practically orgasm while eating one I fixed sunny-side up for him to try. His wife looked a bit embarrassed. We are, by the way, using chicken tractors, so my precious egg machines are protected yet still get fresh pasture. Thank you! Yes, I can never go back to store-bought “organic, free range” eggs.

Eleanor Farlow February 7th, 2012

Some of the folks who get from me have even gotten to this point…no more egg dishes from any source but home grown, grass, bug, and chickweed fed birds. If only I could convince my husband that milk from our own cow, hand milked daily would also be this integral to our life!

Debbie February 7th, 2012

This is just hilarious!!! Getting my FIRST chickens from you in May and can’t wait. Maybe I’ll just stay off breakfast until mine start laying!!

Karlie February 7th, 2012

I agree. Even our winter eggs are better than commercial eggs. Though this winter has been so mild that the ladies are still rustling up a lot of their own chow in the yard and across the street in the neighbor’s wood-lot and giving us colorful yolks.

lissa February 7th, 2012

Eleanor, my girls, love chickweed, too! Our Chicken Salad Seed Mix is nice, too:

http://www.mypetchicken.com/catalog/chickens/Chicken-Salad-Seed-Mix-p928.aspx

Laura Lee February 22nd, 2012

Having my own chickens has led to being a vegetarian. Our first laying hens got beat up by a crazy squirrel and you could see the bare skin, which looked exactly like chicken skin on fryers at the supermarket. (Duahhhh) Since that rude awakening no one in the family can eat chicken, because they are our “Pets with a Purpose,” not our food! (When people ask if we raise chickens to eat, I ask if they are raising their cats for a BarBQ and it shuts them up pretty quick.) After watching some of the videos out there that show the “House of Horrors” of commercial egg production, with the poor leghorn chickens getting their beaks burnt off and then stuffed into battery cages for the rest of their life, just made me cry for days. (By the way, I think battery cage is a proper name for them, except it should be extended to “assault and battery cages!”) No, I can’t eat a restaurant egg either, and now I even cringe when I eat cakes and pastries that I know have commercial eggs in them. Yes, all of “My Pet Chickens” have changed the course of history in my house, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Sara March 10th, 2012

I guess we will have to order the pancakes! 🙂

LindaG April 10th, 2012

I can’t wait until I have such a problem.
I figure I can always get oatmeal or a bacon sandwich. ;o)

Brandy April 12th, 2012

I agree. I hate commercial eggs. And when one of my chickens first starts laying I almost cry with joy because it’s special to me. What can I say, I’m a chicken addict.

By the way- Loved the comment on not raising chickens for food. I agree and people ask me that all the time. I too cannot eat chicken and refuse to.

DB Landes April 27th, 2012

Agreed. Our eggs are better than store bought, by a mile. I notice the difference when I bake cakes or make cookies, too. They make them moister and fluffier somehow. We won’t be going back.

Kathleen April 27th, 2012

I can’t wait to have this problem. My husband still says he’ll never eat something that came from a pet- we’ll see about that!

Dr. Lauren April 28th, 2012

We love our fresh eggs too! One of my students recently old me that her dad bought chickens…she was scared because the egg yolks had “too much” color, not like the “real eggs” from the store. I had to laugh.

Emily April 28th, 2012

Even before chickens, the thought of eating eggs from the store or anywhere that weren’t farm fresh for that matter makes me want to gag!

Aurelia June 18th, 2012

Hi I love chickens and feel like puking at the tast of store bought eggs I am getting 6 more chickens to add to my flock I also got 1 chicken from a factory farm rescue that animal place did for more information about the resue go to animalplace.org. It is SOOOOO SAD the condition factory farm chickens are put in even ” free range” factory chicken they don’t even see the sun or eat a bug

[…] even so, I didn’t know how much of a secret danger it was, or how much my family and I really preferred the eggs from my pastured […]

Pauline February 11th, 2018

My mum always kept chickens, so I never ever had to buy eggs. I now have six hens of my own, Black Star, Red Stars and Daisy belles . All of which have never stopped completely laying eggs. With their first moult this year, I brought them Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, soya bean meal to help keep them happy. I boil potatoes and any peelings carrots and green stuff to mix in with their layers mash. They have a lovely run with a large shower tray filled with oyster shells and grit. I call it their gravel pit. They really are happy little girls and the eggs are to die for. I thank them for my eggs and tell them all the time what good girls they are. They are my babies and they will stay with me until the end of their time. Sad as I am I love them all so much and if anyone had of said to me a few years back I would be keeping chickens I’d have laughed at them. My girls definately lay me some lovely rich eggs.

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