Living as I do in the country, I am partial to fresh eggs: the laid-this-morning style I was fortunate to buy from colleagues at my last workplace. The current going rate is $5 a dozen, with individuals charging anywhere between $3.50 and $6. I’m happy to pay whatever price is charged because everyone has different personal circumstances and my patronage helps the owners keep healthy chooks and use their eggs productively. It also builds solid friendships.
When I changed workplaces in April last year I discovered that no-one in the more urban area I switched to kept chooks which laid enough eggs to sell. Shock! Horror! I needed to source my eggs from the supermarket, like the majority of Australians! Although I selected Free Range eggs with low food miles, their lack of freshness was nevertheless evident in the cooking and the taste. Sigh!
A friend of ours loves hiking and camping, her average trips lasting two weeks at a time, and she often asks me to feed and water her chooks in exchange for their eggs. This is something I do readily, equally because I like to spend time in her hen house with her birds and because I value the freshness of their product.
Her hen house is a grand affair, with branches and wooden poles for roosts, fresh straw underfoot and different sections where individual birds can be isolated if they are sick, sitting on eggs or have new chicks. It’s even built around a large plant, which adds freshness and greenery. The overall effect is homely and comfortable.
As I tend to her chooks my thoughts fly to Köyceğiz on the Turkish Mediterranean coast, a delightful village with glorious weather seemingly every day. It’s a place my husband and I agreed we could retire to very easily! Sitting outside in the morning, drinking çay (black tea) as part of a delicious Türkçe kahvaltı (Turkish breakfast), we drink in the slow pace of the day in the small village. After the hustle and bustle of İstanbul we relish the opportunity to sit quietly, not needing to rush…admiring the chickens as they forage in and around the foliage at our feet, while wondering where the foxes are and how the owners can trust to their safety as they wander freely around the streets…
Ah! There’s more to life than work’s mandated busyness. I’m grateful for the times that I can experience the stillness that brings my soul peace.
The picture depicts a half dozen eggs from my friend’s hen house. The identity of the smallest egg is unknown. It’s smaller than a bantam’s so is likely to belong to a bird that got through the chicken wire: a sparrow, perhaps? Whatever its origin, the broody chook was keeping it warm with her own clutch of eggs. I wasn’t game to open it in the end, so will never know if a baby bird was inside.