Collecting eggs every few hours is always a pleasure. Some hens are consistent and lay their eggs in the same nest. Others move from nest to nest. And then there are Lucky and Peach. Lucky lays her eggs in one of the doghouses early in the morning. It’s a race as to whether the dogs or us humans get her egg. She does cackle a lot after she lays her egg. If we hear her, we can usually get to her egg first.
Peach is another matter. A very determined Buff Orpington, if one of the dogs is in the doghouse she likes to use, she will shoo the dog out of the doghouse so she can lay her egg.
One thing I don’t understand is why there are so few varieties of eggs in stores. Open a carton of eggs in the store and it is so boring. Most people have no idea eggs come in so many colors, shapes and sizes.
The lack of varieties of chickens sold in supermarkets in the US is rather surprising. Some stores make distinctions between organic versus conventional, pastured versus broiler chickens, but rarely do you see a selection of a variety of chicken breeds on sale. The main distinction which is mostly emphasized is which chicken is the cheapest.
But, take a look at the way chicken is marketed and sold in Japan, and there is an astonishing variety of chicken breeds for sale. Here are just ten of these varieties.
Banshu Hyakunichi Tori is a pasture raised variety of White Cornish from Hyogo Prefecture.
Bungo Akadori is a Red Cornish and Rhode Island Red cross from Oita Prefecture in southern Japan.
Fumoto Dori is a red chicken from Saga Pefecture in southern Japan.
Hogo Aji Dori, which translates to Flavorful Chicken from Hyogo, is a cross between Satsuma and Nagoya varieties of chickens.
Mikawa Akadori is a cross between a Heavy Rhode Island and Rhode Island Red chicken from Aichi Prefecture in central Japan. It is a pastured chicken.
Minami Shinshu Jidori is a pastured chicken from Nagano Prefecture in central Japan. It is known for its firm, tasty, juicy meat. Only a hundred of these chickens are produced a month.
Mitsuse Tori is a variety of chicken based on French breeds. It is raised in Saga Prefecture in southern Japan.
Miyazaki Jidokko is a chicken from Miyazki Prefecture in southern Japan. It is noted for not having the smell chicken meat has, having good texture and being very tasty.
Yamato Niku Dori is a pastured chicken from Nara Prefecture. It is known for keeping its shape even when stewed for a long time, and for its rich, sweet juices. Some 8,000 of them are produced each month.
Yasato Honaji Dori is from Ibaraki Prefecture in northern Japan. It is a pastured chicken, fed non-GMO feed, never given antibiotics or medications, and is fed the bacterial culture used to create a type of fermented bean. Supposedly this culture controls salmonella and e. coli 0-157.
These are just a few of the many varieties of chickens raised in Japan. Even though pages on this link are all in Japanese, Guide to Japanese Chickens, browsing through them you can get an idea of the great variety of chickens raised in Japan for the market.
When you watch these small six week old chicks running around with their mother, it’s hard to imagine that many broiler chickens are six pounds and ready to be butchered by six weeks. How is that possible? What happens to a chicken when it grows to six pounds in sex weeks. What would happen to a human child if it grew to the size of a large adult in four years?
When you are outdoors taking care of chickens and crops, you realize how essential pure water, pure air, and non-toxic soil are. We need them. The chickens need them. The insects the chickens eat need them. All the plants need them. From the invisible bacteria in the compost heaps and soil, to the minute creatures which thrive on the bacteria, the insects, the earthworms, the moles, and on, we are all dependent on clean air we can breath, clean water to drink, environments free of toxins, those are the things that are most important to our health and well being.
But somehow we managed to create an economic and political system that puts no value on the things most important to us. We often hear the phrase jobs or the environment. Somehow we’ve come to accept the reasoning that in order for many of us to have jobs, we have to contaminate the things most important to our health and well being. And yet, if you consider the long term implications of this, if we have to keep making our environment more toxic to provide jobs, eventually the environment we live in will be so toxic that we won’t be alive.
In December, China reported that thousands of hectares of farmland were now too toxic to farm. According to this December 30, 2013, Reuters’ article, 3,000,000 hectares of land are now too polluted to farm. How is the destruction of 3,000,000 hectares of land accounted for in the balance sheet and profit and loss statements of the companies whose pollution destroyed this land? Oddly, it doesn’t show up. There is no value put on this tremendous loss of land.
Somehow, we’ve accepted an accounting system that puts no value on clean air, clean water, clean soil; the most important things not only to us but to all living things on this planet. The earth will still be spinning around the sun a thousand years from now, a million years from now, even a billion years from now. We need economic and political systems that will ensure that millions of years from now our air, water, and land will be even cleaner than they are now. Sadly our accounting systems are set up to only think three months ahead to what next quarter’s profits will be. In the context of a million years, next quarter’s profits are a pittance, but clean air, clean water, and clean earth are worth more than all the trillions of dollars recorded on balance sheets.
In a way, the compost piles I tend from the droppings of my chickens, is worth more than the profits of a factory filling the air with toxins. That compost pile is ensuring the purity of the earth. We need radically different accounting and political systems that revere chicken droppings and compost piles instead of plastics and pesticides.
The Swedish Flower Chicken is a landrace chicken that developed in Sweden. Landrace is a breed which has developed over time by adapting to the natural and cultural environment in which it lives.
Swedish Flower Chickens are colorful birds. No two are alike. Here are some links to other places raising these incredible birds:
Do searches of “Swedish Flower Chickens” or “Skånska Blommehöns” and you’ll find many more stories and images of these wonderful chickens.
Each chicken is unique. Each chicken has its own face, its own personality. You can see their personality develop as chicks. Among siblings, there are outgoing chicks, quiet ones, curious ones, timid ones. As they grow, their personalities develop and in some cases change. Have a flock of chickens and you’ll never have a boring day.
It doesn’t seem like January. The sun has been out all day and the chickens are having a great time. When you see how the chicks enjoy hanging out with their mother, even hopping on her back, isn’t it obvious that every chick deserves a mother?
Modern agriculture is all about efficiency. What is the least amount of feed we can give these chickens to raise them in the least amount of time to maximize profits? What is the least amount of money we can pay workers? What is the cheapest way we can ship this food? Those are the driving forces behind filling supermarkets with vast quantities of food. It’s not about maximizing your life and happiness.
But we are going to be on this planet for millions and millions of years to come. We need to expand our viewpoint and instead of running madly in a system driven by this quarter’s profits, we need to envision a system that will endure for millions of years and maximize happiness for everyone and everything, even the animals we raise. We are all interconnected in ways we can’t even imagine. Energy flows from one living thing to another. If you think about it, we are all just recycled chicken shit. The chickens eat the grains, the grasses, the berries. Their shit fertilizes the fields to grow incredible carrots, cabbages, and other vegetables. We eat those, so in a sense we are just eating recycled chicken shit. It all goes round and round. We all need to be healthy and happy, including the plants and animals we eat, to carry us through another million years.
This is one of the hens laying in a beautiful, quiet nest high up a stump.
Chickens love it when you stir the compost and add to it. There are so many good things to eat, especially earthworms and insects. Even the dogs enjoy rooting through the compost.
Chickens are born knowing how to take dirt baths, but when they get to learn this behavior from their mother, they sure enjoy it.
Chickens are always looking for great places to build a nest. Yesterday I heard a white Bresse cackling by the side of a ten foot tall stump. I climbed up to the top and found a nest with eight eggs. Just one of the eggs was hers, the white egg. The mystery to uncover is what other hen has been laying eggs up there.