Natural “Easter eggs”
Around our house, coloring eggs is a different experience. We only use our own eggs, so our “canvas” comes in all shades of brown, with a few blueish ones thrown in for good measure. The kids hunt through and find the lightest colored eggs they can, but sometimes it’s fun to see how the colors look on the darker eggs, too. This year I learned a bit about food dyes, so I was inclined to go with more natural methods of dying. The thought of infusing that nasty dye into the eggs after we so carefully kept the hens didn’t set well. I may still try it–just for fun–but we were busy with other things and didn’t end up doing it yet. Here are a couple of links if you want to try natural egg dying: Chai Tea Infused Marble Easter Eggs and Onion-Skin Easter Eggs.
We like all the color in the egg basket. Each breed of layer has it’s own shade of egg. We always have a handful of Araucana hens in the flock because they lay the distinctive blue, rosy, or green eggs. I learned in researching this that we actually have Ameraucana or Easter Egger chickens. The distinctions are important to breeders who maintain specific characteristics to keep their breed distinct. For my purposes, though, I just want pretty eggs. Plus, most of the hens I’ve gotten have been a lovely paisley pattern in various color schemes. The hens are as pretty as the eggs. They are hybridized for their pretty eggs, so they don’t lay as consistently as the other breeds. They just make a nice presentation.
For good layers we have Isa Browns and Buff Orpingtons. Isa Browns are light, spindly birds, but they lay a lot of brown eggs! They are bred to convert feed into eggs very well. Because they are light they can fly over fences niftily. To stop that we clip the feathers of one wing. We’ve also found that hens that free range don’t bother the fence so much in the winter. They aren’t in the habit, so they don’t tend to be as bad about it. The Buff Orpingtons are a quiet, gentle bird. They are a “heavy” breed, so they develop more body than the Isas. They do lay light brown eggs well and have more tendancy to “go broody” (want to hatch eggs). We got them to experiment with letting them hatch out chicks. We’ve had other breeds, but only have these two at the moment.
The Pastured Poultry classes will focus more on the broiler chickens, but we’ll talk about layers and you’ll be able to see how we run them. Layer hens are a great addition to any back yard. Come and see how you can have your own “Easter eggs” year round!