When people ask me “Why De Rust?”, there are many reasons, but one of the reasons we chose this particular house in this particular place was the large backyard. And with a large backyard comes the potential to grow things and feed things, and grow things to feed oneself (and maybe others… let’s see how this goes, shall we?).
Three weeks ago, we acquired some chickens from an awesome farmer just outside of town. As you can see, it’s a progressive family: two moms of different colours raising a child together 😛 We haven’t named them yet, even though I’d love to give them human names like Claire (hey, chicken! ~ inside joke…), Abigail and Nancy… or some such.
Mr Rautenbach is not convinced.
Meet The Chickens.
Their primary role is to slowly but surely till the soil, eat the pests that come to the surface, and deposit nutrients to fertilise the top soil. The chicken coop is a home-made piece of brilliance that can be moved around: as the chickens finish with one patch of old grass and sand, they can be moved to a fresh patch. And they love it, making quick work of any grass and weeds the moment they get moved.
They get fresh food and water every day, as well as a handful of “scratch” and bits of fruit and vegetables. And in return, we get…
Yup – fresh, healthy, free-range, nutritious eggs.
In just two weeks of being in their new home, the noir chicken decided it was time to start laying. What a racket… followed by the discovery of this little gift. Well, not so little, considering it’s practically the same size as a shop-bought jumbo egg (hence the racket, I suppose).
Free-range egg on the left. Shop egg on the right.
Just look at them… and the little one is getting bigger too. What a beauty. After each protein deposit in the laying box, I thank them and wish them a happy day… I’m totally convinced this is why they continue to lay eggs for us 😉
Tuesday – one more egg. Then by Wednesday we had four: the d’or chicken was not to be outdone. (If noir is French for black, then d’or is French for golden… since orange is French is also… orange. Quirky…) She decided to share the rental in the laying box and soon egg production was doubled!
By Thursday evening, half a dozen. And counting.
Little story: On Thursday afternoon I made the grave mistake of opening the laying box while goldie was still in it. Have you ever had a chicken hiss at you? I’d sooner face off with a rinkhals (again; true story) than interrupt a laying chicken.
Let us continue…
Since Mr Rautenbach was in Joburg last week, I decided to wait until he was back before “proofing” the eggs. That happened yesterday morning…
The eggs all passed the fresh test by sinking in a jug of water, then it was time for breakfast.
A bit of context: I am not the world’s most versatile cook. Kitchen creativity is best left to people who have that kind of time – I don’t; and I choose to apply my skills elsewhere. However, survival requires me to know how to work the gas stove and what olive oil is for 😛 Most days when I “cook for one”, it’s salads, omelettes, some form of carbohydrate, and black coffee – boring diet, but it works for me. I confess I do pep it up with cake from time to time.
(I think I’m setting you up for a non-Instagrammable picture of breakfast…)
Anyway, fortunate enough to be in possession of this very rare Numbi Valley organic-grown olive oil, breakfast got underway (and you’ll hear more about Numbi Valley soon).
The eggs were easy enough to crack, but the shell membranes were thicker than I expected and had to use a knife to puncture them (sign of a very healthy hen and super fresh egg, apparently). The yolks were almost dark orange – a wonderful change to goopy yellow yolks of shop-bought eggs – and I fork-whisked them with no other ingredients.
A few minutes in the pan while the toast was going and voila…
Delicious with a bit of black pepper.
We’re super happy with the chickens and hope they live long and happy lives with us.
Disclaimer: I can’t help the look of resentment on my dog’s face.