Grit Blogs > The Daily Commute

Home Grown Eggs

By Hank Will, Editor-in-Chief

Tags: chicken, egg, farm, animals, coyotes,

We got started a little late with this year’s laying flock … I don’t remember the exact date, but it was at the end of spring. We needed to start over this year because our independent minded chickens took to roosting in the pine grove last year, much to the coyotes' delight. Actually, they were safe in the trees, but they were easily startled, which caused them to fly to the ground at the sight of a coyote and into the waiting jaws of the trickster himself.

Fresh eggs and the last garden tomato.

It would be accurate to say that we were bummed about that chain of events, but we also know that coyotes need to eat too. So this year, we enclosed the flock in a portable electric net. They roosted in the mobile pen (I built as a modification of this plan), which was located inside the net. Surprisingly enough, we didn’t lose one chicken to anything, and the netting helped the dogs get used to watching chickens rather than chasing them.

Now that we have staked a firm claim on this formerly uninhabited farm, the coyotes give us wider berth. Our dogs taunt them some, but so far they have agreed to keep a healthy distance. I recently moved the chickens into a semi-permanent pen that’s about an acre in size. We surrounded it with welded wire that’s 4-feet high and topped that with a single strand of electric. When we installed the welded wire, we took care to give it good ground contact … not even Woodrow the Cairn Terrier has been able to squirm under the fence.

Lovely Welsummer Eggs

As winter approached, we were just a little blue that we hadn’t had any fresh eggs from the flock yet. And then it happened. Last week, one of the Welsummer hens began delivering some of the most beautiful and delicious eggs we have had all year. Kate says that they poach perfectly. I just marvel at the bright orange yolks, firm whites and yummy flavor. I also think the copper-colored shells are absolutely beautiful. For more on the joys and benefits of home-grown eggs, check out this article.

Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on .

hank will_2
11/20/2008 9:36:14 AM

Hmmm... Well, you both have me thinking. We used to raise ducks for fun, weeding and to break up cow pies and they definitely produced eggs. We had an egg-sucking dog named Rose (a red Australian Cattle Dog) at the time who loved to collect them, hold them with her front paws and carefully open the shells to get at the good stuff. We had a flock of geese too, and Rose enjoyed as many goose eggs as she could get ... imagine a husky red cattle dog running from the communal goose nest with a gander's bill attached to the base of her tail. She wanted to yelp, but if she did, she lost the big prize that was cradled delicately between her substantial canine teeth. I laughed every time. I suppose we could have eaten the goose eggs too eh? Probably the turkey eggs too.

11/20/2008 9:27:28 AM

Hank, We really like the duck eggs. They are a bit larger than our chicken eggs. I agree with Robyn, they are a bit richer. I use them just the same as my chicken eggs, to fry in omelets, or cooking and baking. I haven't had any complaints yet!

robyn dolan
11/20/2008 7:14:18 AM

Hi Hank. Duck eggs are delicious! A little stronger flavored than chicken eggs, may take a bit of getting used to (especially if you're used to the extremely bland store bought eggs). The yolks are extra rich and yummy. I didn't really enjoy them so much until the second year, and it took me about 3 years to really enjoy a fried goose egg. Robyn

hank will_2
11/17/2008 1:45:29 PM

Hey Lori -- I really like those Welsummers. We also have barred rocks and Americaunas, but the latter two haven't started to lay yet. I have never eaten a duck egg. What are they like?

11/14/2008 8:11:55 AM

Hi Hank! We also have Welsummers, and I am very pleased with the eggs. Such a beautiful dark brown color! We also have Delawares, and Blue Swedish ducks. The Delaware eggs are also brown, but not quite as dark as the Welsummers. Our ducks are not laying right now, but when they were, we got nice sized off-white eggs from them. It is sooo nice to have our own eggs to collect every day, and the difference between our eggs and eggs sold in the store is amazing! We get lots of comments on their quality from all who get eggs from us!