Heirloom Meals: Savoring Yesterday's Traditions Today

Friday January 13, 2012

Heirloom Breeds & Seeds:
Not all Chickens Cluck the Same By Mary Vaughan


There are few things as exciting as a new cookbook especially just when the January doom and gloom starts to set in and you’re counting down the days until you can start planting things and seeing the sun again.  I just received a little delivery from amazon—“The River Cottage Cookbook.”  Author Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has a way with words and ordering this book was a bit of a ploy on my part as I knew that this is a book that makes you feel confident you can undertake virtually any agricultural activity and I am confident that I want to raise chickens in my parents’ yard.  My parents, however, might still need a little convincing. They willingly allowed me to move back home while I am interning at Heirloom Meals-but of course that was before they knew of my plans for chickens, bees, raised beds and cold frame.   Perhaps I can include a human sized roost in that coop…

Most of us can name the breed of dog we own but can we name the breed of chicken our eggs come?  Largely the chicken undertaking and research has been an experience in learning that “not all chickens cluck the same.”  The number of eggs you get and whether your laying bird will ultimately taste good on the table has everything to do with the breed you select. The size and color of the eggs and personality of the chickens also varies considerably across breeds.  Hugh talks about the Isa Brown and Welsomer as great layers, and Cuckoo Marans, Light Sussex, Dorking, Wyandott, Dumpy and Rhode Island Red as “good dual purpose birds”- for the eggs AND the table. 


Our friends at Pete and Gerry’s Heirloom Eggs sell the eggs from two heirloom varieties- Ameraucanas and Marans.  Ameraucanas lay beautiful pastel blue colored eggs and Marans lay brown eggs.  These birds are well adapted to harsh environments as the Ameraucanas originated in the Patagonia and Marans were bred in France to be adapted to damp environments.  For more information about either of these Heirloom breeds check out Pete and Gerry’s website.