Devon SSSI nature reserve and eco lodges - Maggie's Blog
Which came furthest - the chicken or the egg?
I'm prompted to write this partly as an opportunity to say thanks to Ian Shennan, a guest who kindly sent George a stack of stickers for his latest enterprise - selling his very own free range eggs.
These chickens, like our others, have come from the battery hen welfare trust, which happens to have it's headquarters just outside the town where George goes to school - nearby Chulmleigh. The girls have done their stint, usually with about as much room as they'd get perched on an A4 peice of paper, and although they're still laying an egg most days, they're not productive enough for the battery egg industry anymore.
But they do for us. The latest arrivals belong to George, who looks after them, does the 'pocky' dance to lead them back to their hen house in the evening, and sells the eggs in the lodge carpark at 10p a time. From that he contributes to the chicken food and pays back 10% clear his micro loan (yes, hard hearted capitalist parents starting his business education so young, though when his godmother heard the figures - max 3p pay back a day - she quickly pointed out that usury wasn't one of our own business skills...)
The hens in the picture have been out of 'prison' for at least a month and have been growing feathers, but are still very scruffy. The sight of the birds when we went to collect them made it absolutely clear to me that producing eggs in battery systems is wrong. And watching their confused and painstaking reassertion of instinctive behaviour over the comming days reinforced that. But I struggle to get sentimental about them - these hens are not coming in the house and I won't be making up twee poems about them pooing on the carpet.
So lets hope George doesn't get too attached, but will learn to treat animals with the respect they deserve - especially when they are providing us with food.
There's more about eggs, egg labling etc on this blog post at rural diaries. And if you want to know how far your eggs have travelled, as the crow flies that is, not counting detours to supermarket distribution centres etc, put the code stamped on the egg into the egg calculator on this site. In summary, if the stamp doesn't say UK then the egg isn't a UK egg. If it says 0 the eggs are organic, if 1 the eggs are free range, 2 means barn reared and 3 is for caged birds. Mind you, our hens aren't exactly low food mile birds themselves - they were amongst a flock 'rescued' from Derbyshire and rehomed all across Devon...