Appalachia Appalachian Food

Chicken Eggs


Eggs: The Almost Perfect Food

“In the mountains, eggs were almost as important to our diet as milk and bread. Our family ate eggs just about every day. I hated it that the chickens were allowed to run loose on the place. But the alternative was cooping them up and buying chicken feed. There was no money for this, and we had to let them roam around eating bugs, grass, sand, seeds, and drinking from the spring where the cattle watered. But because of the rich and varied diet, they laid eggs with yolks the color of goldenrod, and the eggs tasted fresh and good. There is no comparison to my way of thinking between country-fresh and supermarket eggs.

Because the chickens were not penned in they made free use of our yard. We tried to keep them off the front porch and out of the yard as much as possible. Our yard was bone-hard and only sprouted grass here and there in green clumps. I cherished the grass and yearned to have it grow and look like the velvet-smooth lawns I saw pictured in books-but the chickens always ate it clean.

We gathered green moss from logs and stumps, and lined box nests with it but the chickens, in their freedom, preferred to hide their eggs. I thought it amusing to watch a wily old hen wander about the place, pretending to squat and lay her egg a dozen places until she could wait no longer and quickly trotted to her hidden nest. After she laid the egg, however, she cackled loudly, telling the world of her accomplishment.”

Sidney Saylor Farr – “More Than Moonshine”


Unlike the chickens from Farr’s childhood, ours are penned up. With so many dogs running lose in the holler, not to mention the varmints in the woods, we don’t have much of a choice in the matter. Along with their chicken feed we supply them with lots of fresh green things to eat. I totally agree with Farr in the notion that fresh eggs are better than the ones you pick up at the grocery store.


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  • Reply
    July 22, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    I miss having eggs but decided not to get more chicks last year and now just have one remaining hen and rooster who are apparently retired and enjoying a life of leisure. The hawks have become too much of a threat here and a couple of years back, took one rooster, one laying hen, and injured another hen so badly I had to put her down. I don’t want to keep them penned up all the time, so at least for now I do without that abundance of eggs that used to be a big part of my diet.

  • Reply
    Don Davidson
    July 18, 2018 at 10:16 pm

    I had pet chickens when I was in junior high and high school. I loved those feathered critters. I loved the fresh eggs too, but for baking I loved my duck eggs even more. I was able to buy some a few years back from a coworker, well, until I sent to crack one and it exploded over the bowl I was cracking it into! LOL it was rotten. I didn’t buy any more eggs from her.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    July 16, 2018 at 7:57 pm

    Loved this post…It was a refresher as I read and have this book. I love fresh eggs. The Red-Tailed and/or Red-Shouldered Hawk, (we have both on our hill) finally made off with the last of our hens…We want to get some more hens but have to figure a way to cover our twenty-five by twenty five six foot rio-grande fence we had installed. The chicken house is smack dab in the middle of the lot. They had lots of grassy weeds to feed on, but soon ate it up. We closed the door every night on the hen house after they went to roost. Only one time in the night did we get a raccoon. He cut the screen on one of the windows but couldn’t get in through the lowered glass window…We could find no place where he dug under the fence…so he had to have climbed that fence…but his attempt to steal our hens failed…We now have a “booger” dog…that’s his name and when he hears or sees a varmit, booger or other racket like a strange car…He does what is called a, “booger bark”…we love that old boy…lets us know every time of stranger-danger!
    Thanks Tipper, loved this post today…

  • Reply
    July 16, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    Tipper, this is one of my favorite post. We have chickens and i love them. I have alot of them named. Little bit, Goldie, Abby, Tiny and lots more. The eggs are so much better. Alot of people won’t eat them. But i think it’s all in their head. The thought. At least you know what your feeding your chicks more healthier. We have them put up but we do let them out to get green grass and bugs. I love watching them. Their funny sometimes. I wouldn’t have it any other way. My husband’s aunt is coming today to get one. Thank again Tipper.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    July 16, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    I liked today’s post about Chickens. We had lots of Free Range chickens when I was growing up. Daddy wouldn’t put up with a dog that sucked eggs or killed chickens. (Also, I enjoyed Ed’s comment) It’s been years since I had Real Eggs, anymore I just get them at Ingles.

    We use to have 4 little Feist dogs. They protected our chickens, wouldn’t even harm the little ones. but they were Pure Poison on them posseums. (Thanks, Jim) …Ken

  • Reply
    July 16, 2018 at 10:28 am

    Now then, when I was coming up the chickens fared better outside. We had hunters in the area that kept the varmints at bay. Sure people lost chickens but when word got out there’d be somebody there that night with their hound dogs. Coon dogs, bear dogs, fox dogs and general purpose dogs. These dogs were trained to track a killer until they either caught it and killed it or ran it clean out of the country. Hunters often spent days and weeks looking for their dogs that “left the country” in chase of an animal.
    People also had house dogs to protect their children and their chickens. Not the house dogs of today that never leave the house except a couple of times a day on a leash if they are lucky. I’m talking about the dogs that stayed outside near the houses and outbuildings. They constantly watched for chicken and egg thieves among other things. Sometimes they took care of the invader silently and sometimes they barked loud and long enough to let the sleeping people know to bring their shotguns. Those dogs of days gone by were smart. Smarter than most people I encounter these days. Maybe not smart enough to work for the FBI but gettin close. Most assuredly smart enough to be president and too smart to be in congress.
    We had thousands upon thousands of chickens at one time but they were pampered and protected. They were housed in a huge house and allowed to run free inside on a carpet of planer shavings from a local mill. They never saw a blade of grass but their food and beverage was prepared for them, delivered to them, then poured and plated for them. Their home was constantly being inspected for signs of intruders and guarded by a four legged watchman. All the hens were asked to do was contribute an egg a day to the cause. The roosters didn’t even do that. All they did was do was attend to their harem, strut their stuff and crow every now and then.
    Nowdays most chickens come in pieces and eggs in styrofoam cartons and most people neither know or care how they got there. I daresay if you buy a pack of chicken, not all the parts are not from the same flock and the eggs most certainly not. They call it progress. I don’t know that I agree!

  • Reply
    aw griff
    July 16, 2018 at 10:04 am

    Love those frash eggs. I only live alittle out of the city there are no restrictions on having animals. My neighbor has laying hens and sometimes give me eggs.
    My grandson is staying a month with me this summer. The other day one of my neighbors hens was in my yard, My grandson informed me that chickens couldn’t fly. Oh yeah, take off running after that chicken. He went running after the hen and it took off like a grouse and flew way over the hill. It was a banty.

  • Reply
    Susan Jones
    July 16, 2018 at 9:33 am

    What a beautiful piece…thanks so much for sharing it, Tipper! Here’s to the Gospel Birds and their contributions to our dinner tables!!!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2018 at 8:47 am

    When I mentioned getting a few chickens, my brother talked me out of it. He thinks chickens create a lot of mess with their dodo everywhere. My dogs wouldn’t allow them to roam and the varmints around here can dig under the strongest of fences. I will just continue getting eggs from my daughter’s free-range chickens. She has a friend who claims to have a special breed of chickens that lay 3-5 eggs a day. That doesn’t last long and then they are done…forever.

  • Reply
    July 16, 2018 at 8:39 am

    Yep, can’t beat those fresh eggs, if we had chickens they wouldn’t last 10min. with all the dogs, cats and coons, just the other evening I was missing my dog food sack and went around the shop and there he was Rascal the coon had drug it out of my shop and was eating as fast as he could, looks like I’ve gotta give him a Appalachian attitude adjustment.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    July 16, 2018 at 8:22 am

    Just how many good baking recipes might there be that do not use eggs?

    I remember us having a chicken pen. Nothing green had a chance in there. But I also have a dim memory of looking for the hidden nests of chickens that ranged free. I also remember that if a dog started egg sucking or killing chickens the verdict was just about unanimous that there was no hope of reforming them.

    Of course you all know some of the standing jokes about chicken and Baptist preachers. For that reason, as well as the rooster telling on Peter, chickens are sometimes called the ‘gospel bird’.

    But as with so many things, store bought eggs (except for the expensive free-range organic) are a pale imitation of the real thing.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    July 16, 2018 at 8:10 am

    Oh yes, they are. My cousin has as unique place for her chockens the pen is huge and encompases 2 oaks . Is is so large they are like free roaming. Yummy eggs

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    July 16, 2018 at 8:07 am

    My wife grew up on a large dairy farm where eggs from 1200 chickens were a sideline. Her folks sold the farm 20 years ago, but to this day her 87 year-old mother keeps a couple of dozen laying hens. Her fresh eggs are prized by family and friends alike.

  • Reply
    Marshall Reagan
    July 16, 2018 at 7:54 am

    I have had a problem with either a bobcat ,or a small bear tearing into my chicken pen and eating my chickens. I finally gave the last four to a friends daughters to go with the ones they have. they lock theirs up in a building at night..i am going to rebuild my pen and TRY to make it bear proof.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 16, 2018 at 6:59 am

    I love fresh eggs! There is about a 100% difference between store eggs and home eggs. I have this wonderful lady in Haysville that supplies me with eggs from yard chickens and they are sooo good! The same lady put me in touch with someone to do some house/yard work for me too. Her name is Ronnie and she’s one of those people that knows how to connect and get things done, the country way.

  • Reply
    Rick Shepherd
    July 16, 2018 at 6:54 am

    44 years ago, in 1974, we raised a breed of chickens called Mille Fluers or Many Feathers…. They were beautiful!….. We ate their delicious eggs but never had the heart to butcher them as they were all like pets!…. We felt the same way about our goats 1975-85…..We loved the milk but we loved our many goats too much to eat them!…. I would only sell them if the buyers would not discuss what they were going to do with them…..It was a good life for all concerned!

  • Reply
    Lee Mears
    July 16, 2018 at 6:22 am

    Enjoyed this..
    Apparently eggs are the perfect food, perfect protein and its important for chickens to have greens. When one of my elder dogs started to have kidney failure the vet instructed me to cut out all beef and slow down on some of the other meats and feed him eggs. All the kidney problems stopped and he lived another 4 years, to 17..
    Seems maybe we could live on eggs and the other ‘perfect’ yellow food, bananas, for a long time. (less carbs)

    I’ve seen some fancy digs for chickens at the Tractor Store and more pictures of plans on Pinterest online.
    Not bad living in penthouses with a yard and getting fed.

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney Jr
    July 16, 2018 at 6:12 am

    Be very careful where you step if the chickens are running loose.

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