We were just discussing this issue in another thread so I thought it was worthwhile to explicitly come back to this thread which involves raising your own chickens.
For years I have wanted to raise my own chickens, to have eggs and to take care of them. However I would never be able to kill them. I would also be traumatized when they died, and I believe chickens have an average life span of four years. We have many coyote and fox where we live so it would probably not be a long life despite my best efforts.
I think I need to accept that I am not well suited for chicken raising. There are many types of people in the world and chicken raising would be too traumatic for me. There are other people who handle it much better, which is great! There is a place for each type of person, and an environment each type of person thrives in.
So I am gently accepting that my place is not in a chicken farm. So my task therefore is to support those people who do thrive in a chicken farm, and buy my eggs and chicken from them.
I am putting on my goals for 2011 to end the year with at least 25% of our household meat being free rage, and all eggs. I realize it will be a financial burden and I will find ways to cut back on other expenses to make this happen.
We had chickens when I was little ~ and my parents' families had them whe they were young ~ but it's not really the done thing here now. There are some, but not many ~ and we live quite close to the countryside.
I buy free range eggs and try to buy at least some free range chicken ~ and other meats.
"The secret of success is constancy to purpose" - Benjamin Disraeli.
Where you are, what is the price differential between buying free range eggs and other eggs? I am going to look into that when we go to the store. I will buy the free range ones whatever the price is, but I will also document here what that difference is. I think that is worth tracking for people, so they can plan for making that change in their own lives.
Lisa, i see on your blog that Sutton is quite rural and a little agrarian. Look on Craigslist for local eggs. I am happy to pay 3.00 for a dozen. Sometimes 2.50. Save your egg cartons for them - they never have enough.
You will find the taste different from store eggs. The yolk is very orange and thick. Richer. You need less eggs in a dish as the taste is much stronger.
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Try local farmers market or small stores for free range eggs. For a while I was getting some from a coworker whose neighbor had chickens and was paying 2.50 a dozen but they were wonderful, dark yellow yolks and very flavorful. She no longer has a lot (her best layer died) but a friend told me about a health food store that gets free range eggs from a nearby farm and they are 1.50 a dozen for xlarge and 1.75 for jumbo, although they are not certified organic they supposedly are. I just bought a dozen the other day but haven't tried them yet. I dotn use a lot of eggs, maybe a dozen in 2 or 3 weeks so I figure the extra cost of free range wont impact me too much
Bob says it was only a tiny bit more orange and he didn't notice any thickness difference. He just made me an omelet with two of them. I feel happy that I'm eating eggs from happy chickens, and it is very tasty, but I'm not sure that there is a big difference.
He does think even though they were labeled as "large" that they were more like a "medium" in size.
I'll look into local farms and see what they have! The farm shop near us tends to close in the winter so I'll have to scout around.