Let’s talk chicken today. Yesterday I was given a couple of the Quiet Valley eggs to take home. Among the brown and white eggs was a blue one! As I looked closely I noticed that some of the brown ones weren’t truly brown either; some where speckled and others were almost pink. While this may not surprise some folks, I was intrigued. (Truth be told, some part deep down in my brain knew that eggs came in all sorts of colors. Notwithstanding, my brain decided to hold that piece of information for ransom.)
I was so intrigued by those colored eggs that when I got home I blew out the yokes to keep them. If you’ve never done it blowing out the yoke is a very easy process. I wash the egg and then with a large sewing needle make a hole at the top and bottom of the egg. I usually swirl the needle around inside the egg to break up the yoke. Then I blow into the top of the egg and the insides come out the bottom. (Some people use a straw instead of putting their mouths on the egg.) Now you’re left with just the shell and, with care, these will last forever.
The blue egg comes from a particular type of chicken called an Ameraucana or an Araucana. These chickens come from the Araucana area of Chile. These chickens were there prior to contacts with Europeans. (What is often referred to as pre-Columbian.) Interestingly, these chickens are closely related to populations found in Polynesia. This speaks to contact between Polynesians and Chileans in prehistoric times, which while a very interesting discussion draws us away from the topic at hand.
The color of a chicken’s egg is determined by genetics and breeding chickens from two different colored egg varieties can lead to new colored eggs. A brown egged rooster breeds with a blue egg hen and now there are olive green eggs! (Not what I would have expected from my art class days.) That’s why some eggs look brown, while others appear pink. We are used to brown and white eggs being standard because of the grocery store. Also, the color of the chicken has nothing to do with the color of the chicken.
There are over 50 billion chickens in the world today. They were domesticated by the 15th century B.C. in Asia. They are omnivores and will eat lizards, small snakes and mice as well as seeds and corn. Chickens are gregarious and have a social structure with dominant individuals who control access to food and shelter. That’s where our term “pecking order” comes from. We have a number of different varieties of chickens here on the farm. I will hopefully learn their breeds and names soon.