by Alina Kodatt
I can never be satisfied with store-bought eggs again, and I’ve got my neighbor Miranda to blame. She told me about a woman in her church who raises chickens and sells the eggs. The directions were simple: give Miranda $3 and she would go to church, pick up the package, and bring me back a dozen, light brown, delicately-speckled fresh eggs. That’s good neighborliness of an Anne of Green Gables dimension.
Well, kind Miranda picked up a dozen eggs the next Sunday and delivered them to my door, and it’s official…I’m in love! I mean how could I not love these 12 beauties (11 actually…I fried one, posthaste) which were laid just the day before at a family farm mere miles from my home?
To compound the matter, Miranda informed me that the care and responsibility of raising the chickens, gathering the eggs, washing, and preparing for sale falls solely on the eldest daughter, Sophie. It’s essentially her own business. She does the work, she keeps the money.
(sigh) Sweet, hardworking Sophie.
Inspired by her entrepreneurial spirit and incredible work ethic, I knew I had to meet her and witness her work first hand. So my daughter and I took a drive to meet Sophie and her colorful brood of chickens.
Driving past the city line, beyond the rows and rows of city homes, we drove until the trees became more abundant and houses became harder to locate. A mere 20 minutes from our landlocked home, we finally pulled up to Sophie’s farm. Her family was gracious and eager to give us the tour. Sophie took us out back to her homemade chicken pen.
For the next half hour, 12-year-old Sophie talked about the chickens, sharing their names and describing them in detail like she would her own children, and rightfully so. She’s raised many of them from birth. As we spoke, her younger brother took to the arduous task of chasing down each hen so we could see them. Karis was timid at first, staying near my side. Sophie held the hens while I took pictures and Karis had her first encounter with chicken feathers, her fingers gently exploring the beautiful black and caramel-colored feathers.
Sophie showed me the chicken coup where the eggs are laid while I asked questions that totally outed me as a city girl, such as: “When does the rooster lay eggs?” (duh, a rooster is a male chicken) and “How does an egg become a chicken?” (hello, sex ed. 101). She was patient though thoroughly confused with my complete lack of knowledge about how chicken-breeding works.
I thanked Sophie for her effort raising these happy, healthy chickens and felt glad we took the time to visit this farm. My daughter and I both got to see what goes into raising the food we enjoy on a daily basis. Because our everyday lives are built around the convenience of supermarket shopping, the opportunities for my daughter to see where food comes from are few and far between. I love giving her the chance to get her hands dirty in someone else’s garden (since my own garden refuses to cooperate). Visiting small farms like this one helps drive home the reality of how much work it takes to produce food. It helps us appreciate the farmer’s job when we see those nice, neat rows of zucchini in the produce section. Somebody took the time to grow those so that we wouldn’t have to.
So the next time the kids mutter that painful “b” word (bored), hook up with a local farmer and ask for a tour. Hit the country roads, breathe in the fresh air, and let them get their hands dirty. I promise you they’ll never look at food the same way again.