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Garvey: High egg prices really are just chicken scratch

By Georgia Garvey - | Jan 24, 2023

Everyone’s complaining about how expensive eggs have gotten lately, but I haven’t been stressing.

I’ve always bought the extra-pricey eggs anyway, the ones with the drawings of flowers on them, the ones that promise the chickens who laid your eggs were raised on a bucolic farm in Iowa where each hen gets her own house, the chicks are taken for twice-daily walks in tiny perambulators and a trained avian masseuse visits every week to give them a nice Swedish rubdown.

Why do I pay more? I haven’t seen any horrible documentaries about factory farming, and it’s not like I have money to burn. It’s just that I’ve known plenty of chickens in my time and they’re mostly a decent sort.

There was that one rooster who ruled my grandparents’ henhouse, the one who, when I was 3 years old, chased me around the yard mercilessly. Each time he caught me, he’d peck me viciously, as if attacking a threat to his masculine dominion. One day, he pushed his luck too far, though. Deciding he’d nipped his last toddler, my grandmother dispensed the Greek version of frontier justice, lopping off his head and turning him into delicious egg-lemon soup.

That rooster was an outlier. Most chickens are swell.

They certainly deserve a bit of luxury in exchange for providing my family with 75% of our protein intake — more on the weekends, when I don’t have to throw away a bunch of cold scrambled eggs after dropping the kids off at school.

Then, add to that the bird flu that struck the nation’s egg-laying hens last year, leading to the death of millions of chickens. That’s not their fault, and if I have to pay more or eat something else for breakfast every now and then, that’s OK with me.

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that she thought it would probably be cheaper to raise her own chickens than to buy eggs at the store.

That is untrue.

I know because I once researched raising chickens. Even after untangling the thousands of different breeds (would you like a Cream Legbar or a Rhode Island Red?), I balked after hitting pages of instructions for building a coop with sufficient access to dirt baths and grit, nesting boxes and heated poultry drinkers.

Plus, chicken-owners can’t ever go on vacation. It’s hard enough to find a babysitter, let alone someone trained to properly clean a dropping board.

Can you watch the chickens for a week while we go to Cabo? They don’t need much, just water, food, bedding changes, sweeping, a little light coop cleaning. As long as they haven’t been carried off by hawks when we get back, we’ll be happy!

Plus, you haven’t really encountered the harsh realities of home-raised chickens until you’ve visited Vieques in Puerto Rico. The island is an Eden full of white-sand beaches, but you awaken each morning (and midmorning and afternoon and late afternoon) to the sound of 5,000 roosters simultaneously airing their grievances loudly enough for the entire island to hear.

Who can blame the roosters, though? I’d be mad, too, if the U.S. Navy had been bombing my home for 60 years, to the point where there are so many unexploded ordinances that they can’t safely clear away the underbrush to find all the unexploded ordinances.

(That, by the way, is true, though you may have never read about it before. It’s certainly the kind of thing Ron DeSantis wouldn’t want taught in schools, lest children ask the tricky question “Why?” in response.)

But back to the eggs.

Yes, buying them at the store has gotten expensive. But the other options — raiding my kids’ college funds for coop maintenance, moving to Vieques and eating angry eggs all day — are no good, either.

For now, instead, I pay the price and lump it.

It’s not that bad, really. It’s certainly better than being chased around my backyard by an insecure rooster.

There’s only so much egg-lemon soup a woman can eat.

To learn more about Georgia Garvey, visit GeorgiaGarvey.com.

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