As with most experiences in my journey to the farm, I have hundreds of stories I could tell, and with the chickens it's no different...
Years ago when I still lived in the suburbs, and as my quest for producing foods at their natural foundation was in its infancy, I became concerned about the commercial 'grocery store' eggs we buy and looked to the health food store for a more 'real' egg. There really is a difference between an 'organic' and 'run of the mill' grocery store egg, but even the health food store's 'organic' eggs can't even begin to touch the difference in an old fashion 'farm fresh' egg.
Back then though, I didn't know that. Back then, I just remembered visiting my girlfriend's farm who had chickens...cooking with and eating her farm fresh eggs. The yolk was an incredibly deeper and richer color than I had known in grocery store eggs and as I began to do research on eggs I found that there was a nutritional difference between the two.
Farm fresh eggs contain 10 percent less fat, 34 percent less cholesterol, 40 percent more vitamin A and four times as much omega-3 fatty acids compared to the standard values reported by the USDA for commercial eggs. (Numerous studies suggest that diets high in omega-3s can help protect against heart disease, mitigate the effects of Type II diabetes and otherwise benefit the human body’s immune responses.) Farm raised chicken meat (with skin on) contained 21 percent less fat, 30 percent less saturated fat and 50 percent more vitamin A than the USDA standard.
So, being the courageous girl I am, I decided that I wanted to raise some chickens in the back yard of my suburban home. I figured I'd be respectful and forego a rooster and only get some hens. I drove out to the country to a feed store there and bought 6 baby hens. I brought them back home, researched how many eggs I could expect per hen, per week, and decided by the time that I shared my eggs with the family, I wouldn't have enough. So I drove back out to the country, to the feed store and bought 6 more baby hens.
I took one of my wire dog crates and got the baby chicks all set up and watched and waited for them to grow. Over the next weeks and months, the hens did grow and they progressed from a dog crate to a dog kennel that I set up in my back yard. I rarely saw my neighbors and figured they probably wouldn't notice my suburbian 'chicken coop' and anticipated the day when I would finally be able to have 'real' eggs.
One day, there was a knock at my door. As I opened it up I saw a man standing there with an official looking clipboard. He stated that he was a Code Enforcement Officer and that I was currently breaking the codes of my suburb by having chickens in my back yard. He asked to see the chickens so I took him out back and showed him my suburban coop. He began to explain all the rules and regulations, which held no meaning to me because as far as I was concerned (and I stated emphatically to him), they were just "birds". Of course he disagreed and stated they were categorized as "livestock" and a fundamental difference of opinions was born.
Looooooooooooooooooooooong story short, I came home one day to find a bright red piece of paper taped to my front door. It was the forbidden "Code Violation" formal complaint. Come to find out, I was being charged with illegally raising livestock in my illustrious suburb.
Not only was I being charged with a formal complaint, but I was also assessed a fine. $5,000 to be exact.
Little had I realized when I first set out on my 'real eggs in the suburbs' journey that my chickens would have an assessed value of $5,000.
Fortunately, I had a friend who had just bought a small farm in the country who wanted some hens so that they could have fresh eggs. I drove my beloved hens, who were a week or two away from finally laying eggs out to their farm and left them in their new home.
My plans may have been thwarted but I was not defeated. :)
Needless to say, the first thing I bought when I moved to my farm was baby chicks. It was my way of having the 'last laugh'. Well, not so much the last laugh as it was and is the joy of raising hens and a rooster, with more eggs than a girl like me could ever want or need. I routinely give them away to family and friends who are in awe that such a thing exists...real farm fresh eggs.
The suburbian life is so far removed from these simple things in life that years ago was a normal part of life. It's another example of how our food chain has been watered down by mass production, leaving many no choice but to consume a product that is inferior to the real thang.