Posted by: littlehouseonthebigisland | June 7, 2014

Poultry Possibilities

3d8ae76eec8c42b229c2fbcd3688a9c2 Chickens are a lot of work.  The problem is this:  I rarely eat eggs, yet I am responsible for most of their care here on Magic Mountain Farm.  They need to be fed twice a day.  They need a calcium supplement.  They require fresh greens and compost.  Their pen must be cleaned regularly.  Eggs, if they are laying, need to be collected. And right now, my husband is raising baby chicks in the packing building, so soon we will have three more to add to our flock.

The reasons I don’t eat eggs are several.  For starters, our workers all seem to adore them.  They eat eggs with abandon, even going so far as to harvest them before I get to the pen.  Waking, I smell eggs frying.  But they are not for me or my husband.  By the time we are ready to eat, the carton is empty.  The other day I had to borrow store-bought eggs from our tenant to make dinner.  Now that it is summer and he does not have to run out the door before seven, one might suppose my husband would like to sit down for eggs, bacon and toast.  It is not to be.  For there are no eggs left by the time we are ready to eat.

Recently I instituted a two-egg policy.  There must be at least two eggs left in the carton at all times.  To make pancakes or fishcakes for dinner, or to scramble for my husband for breakfast.  We used to make fritatas, too.  But that was before I found out that my bad cholestrol was high and the chickens decided to do their part by going on strike.  They lay eggs cyclically.  This time it has conveniently coincided with my diet restrictions.

But I digress. What is surprising to me now that we have chickens of our own, is how anyone can sell eggs at a reasonable price.  In grocery stores here commercial eggs sell for about $3.50 a dozen.  Free range organic eggs are $6.00 and up.  They sell for that much at the local farmer’s market, too.  With all of the work, all of the food, and all of the egg-laying vacations chickens take, not to mention lives lost to disease and hungry dogs, I’m amazed eggs are available to common folk at all.

So it was very gratifying in the muck and the rain yesterday to realize how very helpful our chickens can be on our farm.  I was cleaning out the pen, which is as it turns out, is an endless source of perfect, highly fertilized soil; a fresh mixture of poop, pee, rotting compost and grass, dirt, and macadamia nut shells.  Somehow, especially with the addition of constant rain, it all turns into this highly nutritious goo for plants growing in our rocky, mostly lava land.

There are squash vines that have spontaneously sprouted all around the edge of the chicken pen.  Their leaves are the size of enormous serv7d4995e17df2430eae92c54e06aa932aing platters, with fat, yellow flowers peering out, the color of egg yolks.  They are climbing the pen, providing green nibbles, where ever the chickens can get at them.  Soon, we hope to see actual squashes, which taste so good in so many ways.  The plants provide shade and food, and are so beautiful.  Where the other chickens lived in another pen up above, the ones that were massacred by neighbor dogs, squash and sunflowers have sprouted and taken over in abundance.  They come from the compost and the seeds we fed them. When the chickens were in the pen, they ate anything that sprouted, but after their demise, a beautiful garden has grown, a testament that nothing too good or too bad, lasts for too long.

So I can now say, even as I am not able to eat eggs, and must tend to their needs, that the possibilities with poultry seem to have no bounds.  We cannot bring ourselves to eat them, but we are still grateful for their blue, pink, and brown eggs that allow for cooking and worker breakfasts, and especially I am grateful for the incredible gardens they have helped to plant and to feed, and also for way they allow us to use every scrap of everything connected with them, to make Magic Mountain Farm a garden of Eden.




  1. Looking forward to meeting the cluck cluck cluck. This sounds like the kind of chore mom and I can take off your hands. Lol. We know many chicken songs and the chicken dance. 🙂

  2. I typed a two fingers opus in fervent response and my phone ate it during the posting. Lol. Lola and I look forward to your posts and talk about them often. We have a longer time to get the imagination growing. The chicken club will have new friends and helpers in us . We are studying odds and ends to raise our attention and awareness of poultry in motion. The feeling of this post by you was of a calmed and deep different rhythm. It’s a great feeling to sit back after reading and close my eyes and fly into the ideas that lift up off the texts. You are amazing and beautiful. Love to all.

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