Over the past several months, I've done a lot of reading about the pros and cons of raising your own chickens for the eggs. Some people were concluding that the cost of raising the chickens did not make it worthwhile compared to the old eggs we get to purchase at the grocery store.
However, I have an added consideration to the mix that I've not really read about. I've touched upon it in one of my last posts, but I feel the need to elaborate. Yes, me, elaborating.
We get approximately 35 eggs per week from our five backyard chickens. Granted, Miss Speckles, as a Bantam, lays some pretty small eggs, but they are just as tasty and as healthy as the others. So, this gives us plenty of eggs every week to meet our every "egg" need.
Before we began to gather eggs from our backyard coop, we were purchasing grocery store eggs once every two weeks. We usually bought a carton of 18 eggs and over the next two weeks, we would have to be careful about how many eggs we used so that they would last the full two weeks. Since we are a family that has a heavy baking side to it, that means we use a lot of eggs. Also, we love any kind of egg dish.
So, the savings with having backyard laying hens translates to more than the egg carton of savings at the grocery store. First of all, we save approximately $6.00 per week in the basic cost of buying the 30+ eggs that we gather in the backyard coop throughout the week. That's $6.00 that we do not have to spend at the grocery store.
However, the savings go further than what initially meets the eye and pocketbook.
If I pull eight eggs out of the refrigerator...eggs that came from our backyard and I whip up a couple of gourmet style omelets that are light and fluffy, filled with sharp cheddar cheese, fresh mushrooms and ham, then we are saving a brunch price here in Houston that is approximately $12.00 per gourmet omelet. For Deputy Dave and I, this equals a $24.00 brunch bill. Now, if we go to Denny's restaurant, we might get that same omelet for $4.00, but that's still an approximate $10.00 bill for for two omelets.
Out of the 35 eggs for the week, with two omelets, Deputy Dave and I have already saved at least another $10.00 for that meal because we had the eggs at the house to create the meal that we would have otherwise gone to a restaurant to enjoy.
Another delicious meal that we love to eat is Quiche. There is a tea room near our house where you can get a swiss cheese and broccoli quiche. It is melt in your mouth deliciousness with a buttery crust. To order one piece of quiche, it cost $8.95. But, Deputy Dave makes a heavenly home-made quiche, even rolling out his own pie crust. The filling, if you eat quiche and know, is also made with eggs for the base ingredient. Having eggs in the refrigerator means we can have quiche and since Deputy Dave makes an entire quiche pie for us to enjoy, we get about eight slices from the pie and that is more dining out that is no longer needed. Having fresh eggs on hand also ensures that our quiche is more delectable than ordering one in a restaurant.
Of course, we enjoy having eggs over easy...simmering in a bit of bacon grease. Enjoying eggs and bacon for dinner is one of our favorite meals. Again, no need to purchase a breakfast platter at Denny's or I-Hop because we've got the fixins in our refrigerator. More out-to-eat money that we've saved.
Overall, my point is that each week we are preparing foods at home with those eggs that we've gathered from the backyard and the meals that we are preparing are secondary savings added to the savings from not having to buy any eggs from the grocery store. All of the meals that we get from our eggs help contribute to our savings.
Each day that we eat omelets is another day that we are not spending money on another food item. So, the savings multiple on themselves. The more you eat the eggs that you are gathering from your own coop, the more money you are keeping in your pocket.
For us, the weekly savings I translate to about $45.00 per week between saved egg costs and foods prepared with the eggs from our laying hens. Not bad. In a month's time, we are saving near $200. in groceries because we are eating so many eggs.
Give me a loaf of bread, some butter and eggs and I'll give you a meal.
Give me a package of tortillas, a bag of potatoes, eggs and cheese and you'll get some delicious taquitos and with some pico de gallo in the wrap, your mouth will be eating a burst of flavors.
The eggs make a meal spread out further. Eggs pack a lot of protein in their little shell and that protein in our body goes a long way. One little egg is a nutritionally dense food. In the old days, an egg to a farmer was a life-saver. A sturdy little versatile food source with great flavor.
Anyway, I am so amazed by how far the eggs go in this household and I cannot express how thrilled I am, for the first time in our lives, about how free I feel with eating as many eggs out of the carton as we'd like because there is a fresh supply on the way...God willing.
No longer do we have to look at the carton and be bummed out about being one egg short for a recipe...we must simply wait for the next egg to be laid. So far, we have not run out of eggs. I can tell you that, even as fervent egg eaters, we are hard-pressed to eat 35 eggs per week. If we become too bogged down with too many eggs, we present them as a nice gift to those who value super fresh eggs, always gathered within an hour of being laid. Can't get fresher than that!
Since the USDA allows an egg to lay around for 20 days BEFORE it is even put into the carton, I am thoroughly pleased with my backyard eggs. I know they haven't even sat around for half a day much less 20 days!
I love eggs. With one large $12.00 bag of chicken feed lasting about a month along with kitchen scraps and free-range pecking...the cost is so low. We purchased one bale of hay for the nest several months ago and it cost about $11.00. On a daily basis, that's about all it costs.
In our area, fresh farm-raised eggs such as ours cost at least $5.00 per dozen. The grocery store variety is much less expensive, but for discerning egg buyers, the quality of eggs we are eating would cost a person quite a bit more. I am so thankful that we have high quality eggs waiting for us in one of the nests in the backyard and every day it's a fun treasure hunt to find the next egg. It never gets old and I don't think it ever will.
So, if you are thinking about raising chickens, do it. This is one endeavor that I've enjoyed wholeheartedly. Perhaps it's because we started out nice and slow. Our five chickens suit our family perfectly. The chickens are entertaining and they know their routine.
I guess that once we move to our land in a few months we'll be able to finally take our chicken raising skills to a new level. We'll be able to expand the chicken coop to a walk-in variety and will will have one side with a rooster so we can have chicks replacing the older gals.
And, yes, we will eventually be processing our own chickens so this entire experience will lead us from having fresh eggs to having fresh farm-raised chicken on the table. That idea still grosses me out quite a bit, so I am not quite tough enough to approach that challenge, but I'm working on it. I'd much rather have our own farm-raised chicken on the table than the grocery store version.
I will leave you with a thought I've had this past week as we've been trying to find a builder and after I've been going through a bit of freak-out mode of being confronted with our new approaching reality...I decided it's worthwhile, but
...it sure is hard work trying to live a more simplistic life.
To those of you already living this life, I am holding my imaginary crystal champagne glass (which is filled to the brim) up in the air to toast you and your determination! A toast to all who desire a return to our roots, to all kinds of roots, to digging your hands in productive roots, to growing all kinds of roots and eating all kinds of roots, to watching those roots grow into things you savor...and to chicken-raising-people of all kinds, whether only in spirit or with birds in your yard...I salute you!