Ameracaunas are a breed that developed in America. The Auracana or collquicha was imported, from central America or Mexico. It was unique in that it layer a blue egg. These Latino chickens mixed with some local chickens and voila, we have the Ameracauna.
Free Range: Something You Probably Did Not Know
End Chicken Egg Story
I fell in love with this breed when I lived in England, and fortunately for me, someone imported them. They are a funny bird. For the science geeks to there, they were developed by Punnet, as in the Punnet Square, a geneticist that actually worked with chickens. They lay a lot of blue eggs and are super tame.
My Story with Chickens and Eggs
Scenes from "Pink Flamingo's" featuring Edie the Egg Lady
One of my favorite John Waters films is called "Pink Flamingo's" and eggs are prominently featured of the film. Edie the Egg Lady is a central character and she is obsessed with eggs and the Egg Man. Here are two clips from that classic film. As you will see, Edie is as fond of eggs as I am, and asks some very deep questions about eggs. If you have not seen this film, find it and watch it!
When We got started in the egg business, our plan was to have chickens running all over the place, eating grass and bugs, and whatever else they could find. . But, we soon discovered two things.
1. Chickens that run all over the place get eaten by foxes, raccoons, and hawks faster that you can hatch them. So, our chickens free range but are enclosed by an electrical fence that keeps predators out.
2. Many chicken breeds have had the instinct to forage for food bred out of them. Literally, when exposed to grass and such, they just stand there waiting for food out of a bag. We had to find breeds of chickens that still knew how to gather their own food.
There is more to free range than meets the eye.
Marans are a French chicken that started on the French coast and were allegedly spread by sailors who brought them along for meat and eggs. Their unique feature is their chocolate brown eggs.
These chickens come from Sweden and were created by a Swedish monk. Its a relatively new breed and lays a light green eggs. They are super foragers and can gather most of their food from the field.
Like Dogs and Cats, there are breeds of chickens. In fact, as one of the most popular domesticated animals, there are as many chicken breeds as dog breeds. And just like a poodle is not a great dane, a Maran Chicken is not a Cream Legbar Chicken. Different Chicken breeds behave differently, look differently, and lay different colored eggs. Some lay white eggs, some lay brown and still others green. If you want to see some cool chickens, go to my favorite website, www.feathersite.com. Go to the chicken section and you will see the best collection of chicken breeds in the world..
Our Chicken Breeds
Just scroll Down if you want to see the chicken breeds and skip my editorial blah blah…..
What you probably did not know what that chicken farmer is very dangerous work. Please notice the red chicken to the front. Well, I was walking through the chicken field and suddenly I was face down in the mud. That jerk chicken knocked me down. And, then once I was down he started flying at my face to do me in. I would have killed him…… because you don't bitch slap the hand that feeds you… but…..his attack was a good sign. Because if he attacks me, he will attack a fox or a raccoon or any other predator. Mean roosters have been bred out of some breeds of chickens, but, if you are going to free range, you want a mean rooster. You just have to keep an eye on him, or end up face down in the mud.
When I was in the 8th grade I entered my junior high science fair. My entry was about eggs, and that my research revealed they were the perfect food. In a way, it was common sense. Within the shell could be found all the nutrition needed for a chicken embryo to develop everything it needed for life; all its organs, blood, bone, feather, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, you name it was inside that shell. If the white and yellow of an egg could fashion every organ and system necessary for chicken life, it must be able to feed every organ and system for human life.
My eye opening project won the school science fair and I went on to compete at the state competition. And, actually, I can’t remember what happened next. I know I won something at the state fair. Lets just say I wont that one too. Maybe an exaggeration but it sounds good.
The point is that long ago, I became aware that the simple egg was in fact a super food. I have held this belief for the last 40 years and will continue to hold it for the next 40 years.
My story with eggs did not stop with a science fair in 1978. Oh no, it only became more complicated.
When I decided to go to medical school, I decided to go to one in England. I went to a school that allowed my to specialize in herbal medicine located in the English countryside. I lived in London, and commuted down to the south coast every day for school. Though it was a long commute, it did result in being able to buy farm produce that I would then eat in my London flat.
I remember the first time I fried farm-raised eggs for lunch. The yolks of the eggs were bright orange, almost red. They were round and perky like little tangerine balloons. They looked nothing like the lemon yellow yolks of the eggs I had eaten in America. And, they flavor was out of this world. I mean sensational. I was EGG-static. They were the best eggs I had ever eaten. I was already a confirmed egg lover, but I then realized I had never tasted a good egg.
For more than a decade, I ate delicious eggs in England and all over Europe, and eventually I took the color of the yolk and the flavor for granted. (Side bar: I think the best eggs can be found in Spain, in case you really want to taste a good egg.)
Some 12 years later, I moved back to America. As could be expected, I went to the grocery store and bought eggs. When I cracked them open and looked down, I was horrified to see what was below me. Creepy lemon yellow yolks were flat and life-less. They looked milky yellow balloons that were short on air. And, when I ate them, I was even more disturbed. They didn’t have any flavor.
I began looking into it and discovered that my eggs came from a chicken factory where the birds lived in substandard conditions and were feed bad factory food. No daylight, no fresh air, no eating weeds and bugs. They were factory eggs from factory chickens and tasted like it. And, honestly, if I were a chicken kept in such a terrible condition, I would intentionally lay a terrible egg.
Once we settled on our Eco Farm I decided that we would produce our own farm fresh eggs. Enter the chicken madness. I am a bit of a mad scientist so I was not satisfied with just any chicken. I had to get really cool European chickens, hoping to recreate my very positive European egg experience. So, we have English Cream LegBars, Swedish Icebars, and French Marans. Oh, and we have Ameracaunas which are really Latino chickens that lay a blue egg. (I think my Ameracaunas are legal but I have not asked if they have green cards. I probably should check on that. Eak)
So, we have gourmet laying chickens.
In the effort to produce a totally egg-cellant egg, we did everything in our power to make sure the chickens have an excellent life and eat excellent food. Their diet consists of:
1. Grass, bugs, and weeds of their choosing.
2. Beet and carrot greens to get more beta-carotene into the yolk and make it super orange.
3. An assortment of super food seeds like oats and sunflowers.
4. Oyster shells
5. Dirt… don’t ask me but they seem to like dirt.
6. Non-medicated chicken food.
The result? Fantastic eggs. Like the ones you get in Europe. But, because I have issues with compulsivity, we produced way more eggs than we could eat. So, we decided to start selling them at the local farmers market.
My goal has become to produce the worlds best egg. That may be an unrealistically high goal, but, it is something to work towards. In this aim, I experiment with different feeds, different food materials, and different rearing techniques. What I have learned so far is that it’s all about diet and lifestyle. If you give a chicken a great diet, it will give you a great egg.
So, if you want to taste a really fantastic egg, come to the farmers market in Great Falls, Virginia on a Saturday morning, and you will find our eggs for sale. They are worth the trip!
Sorry, I cant help myself. Here is another clip from Edie the Egg Lady speaking on my favorite topic. Eggs.
Serious Sidebar: Eggs Are Super Foods If They Come From Healthy Chickens
Once I became a serious “Egg Man” I become more conscious of how many eggs my chickens produced. While I had interesting chicken varieties, I was concerned they did not lay that many eggs. I knew that factory chickens were bred for egg productivity, meaning they lay a ton of eggs without eating much food, and I decided to get some and breed them into my flocks. My idea was to use their genetics to increase my egg productivity.
We are back to me being a bit of a mad scientist. So, I tried calling chicken egg factories to buy some chickens and I found that you could not get a number, find a person, or get an address. Apparently the animal rights activists had forced chicken egg farmers to go into hiding.
I was telling all this to a chicken friend and he had a solution. He told me that if I went to a particular livestock auction in Pennsylvania, I could buy commercial egg chickens. Apparently egg farmers only keep hens for a year and then sent them to auction……. where they were purchased by soup companies. So, off I went to buy me some high production chickens.
When I tell you nothing in my life prepared me for what I saw at the auction, I mean nothing. I am a card- carrying member of the carnivore party, but, when I saw the condition of the chickens leaving a chicken egg factory, I wanted to throw up and become a vegetarian. They had no feathers; they had been plucked out by other chickens due to over crowding, they were covered with faeces, they were deformed from horrid living conditions. It was the saddest thing I had ever seen. They looked like something between a chicken and an earth worm. Gross.
I bought 25. I got them home and sprayed them off and set them up on some green grass and room to run. Sadly, even with fresh wind, warm sun, and super good food, they never recovered their health. They were so sick when they left the egg factory, they could not be brought back to health. Ever.
I have never eaten a factory egg since. Not because it supports animal cruelty, but because I am not eating anything that comes out of sick animal.
We don't keep Kosher, but, there are some principles lurking in Kosher rules that make sense to us. One is, you don't eat sick animals and in this case, anything that comes from a sick animal.
That cheap factory produced egg may look pretty, but, if you saw what laid it, you would not want that in your mouth. People don’t eat road kill because it’s gross, and if you saw the chickens that laid the eggs from the grocery, you would not eat them either.
In addition, I have never eaten canned soup again. Because, I got those pathetic chickens from an auction where the soup companies come and buy chickens for soup. Back to my earlier point, you don’t eat sick animals, and the chickens used for soup that I saw, were nothing you want to eat. Boil them as long as you want.
And, like I said, I am not an animal rights activist. I am just a human being, and human beings don’t eat sick animals or anything that comes from sick animals….. it goes against human instincts.
So, I have to amend my science project from 1978. Eggs are the perfect food: If they are laid by healthy chickens.