...and you get out of it what you put into it.
We buy the more expensive natural chicken feed. It costs more, but my eggs still probably don't cost 2 dollars a dozen, like at the store. (And certainly not the $4.oo/dozen for the ones at the health food store.)
I spend time talking to my chickens every day. I let them out of the coop with a cheerful "Good morning, girls!" In the middle of the morning/afternoon, I go out and pick handfuls of fresh greens for them to eat, and I sit in a chair and watch them enjoy. In the dead of winter if I can't find anything green (not so last winter--I had kale growing all season), then I sprout seeds and feed them odds and ends of salad makings and we all eat a little healthier. lol When I gather eggs, I have one hen who comes to greet me in the coop as soon as she sees me go around to the back. She comes over for a scratch and a cuddle every time. She loves affection and wiggles with delight when I scratch the back of her head. She even lets me pick her up and hug her.
As a result of this--good food, clean water every day, clean bedding and lots of love...I have really gorgeous eggs. The yolks are as orange as an orange. The whites are thick and viscous. The shells are solid and the taste is out of this world. The results of what little extra time I spend on my chickens far outweigh any labor or expense. I have only 7 hens, and am getting 5-6 eggs a day. A bag of layer feed and scratch grains will last almost a month. And we have beautiful healthy eggs in the fridge, enough to give to friends occasionally and enough to store. Right now I have about 6.5 dozen stored in the back room. All lathered up in vegetable shortening and stored in a cool dark place. I just had an egg and muenster and onion sandwich for my breakfast. I used 2 eggs in the ricotta mixture for my veggie lasagna last night. I'll use 5 or 6 in the egg fu young for tonights supper. We eat a fair amount of eggs, as do most people who have chickens. They are a considerable portion of our food system. PLUS, of course, we get lots of yummy manure for our compost pile and ultimately our gardens. Every time I clean the coop, all that dirty straw goes directly into the compost bin. Manure and urine for fertilizer, straw for tilth. Win/Win. You can't go wrong with chickens. Even just a few....we do not butcher the chickens themselves for food. Maybe some day if we decide we need chicken that much. But not today...today they give me beautiful eggs and run around outside in the dappled sunlight and warm breezes....
Sometimes I give kitchen scraps to them to eat instead of putting those directly on the compost pile, but like I heard Joel Salatin say once "Who cares? It all winds up in the same place anyway." lol
I have finished my yummy egg sandwich, almost finished my first cup of coffee, and still need to get dressed. (Yes--I let the chickens out and feed them in the mornings in my pajamas. Almost every day. LOL)
I don't really have a lot to do today (I already got the morning chores done and straightened up a bit) except maybe some party planning. I am going to have the party on 12/21/12...yes, the end of the world. Or the Winter Solstice. Or, as I like to think of it, the Beginning of the New Paradigm. It falls on a Friday, but I think that will be okay. Still gonna clear it with the Irishman first and see. Maybe Saturday would be better, but that is getting awfully close to Christmas as it is, and I think lots of folks do their last minute shopping that weekend. (Unlike me, who either never shops at ALL, or runs out on Christmas Eve. lol)
Have a wonderful Monday, dear ones. The mercury here is heading for 75 degrees. It's crazy I tell ya !