Tomato Patch: Scrambling for some backyard eggs
By Greg Glassner
I noticed that the City of Richmond is now allowing residents to keep four laying hens for the purpose of producing fresh eggs.
I wholeheartedly endorse this and I hope those who take advantage of the opportunity are more successful than I was when I tried it.
I like eggs, and fresh ones really do taste better. When my wife and I lived in a rural section of Chesapeake, we took a fling at raising chickens and producing our own eggs.
Suzie, the office manager at the Chesapeake Post, talked me into this scheme and sweetened the deal by offering us a male and female chick from her family farm for free. After picking up some chicken food at the local feed store, I brought the little peepers home and set them up in a small shelter in our fenced-in yard.
We fed, watered and cared for little Foghorn and little Leghorn, and they grew into fine looking birds. My wife even massaged their legs and little combs with olive oil to prevent chapped skin.
We noticed that they appeared identical as they matured and I commented on this at work. Susie assured me that with this particular breed the roosters and chickens looked quite similar.
One of them, I wasn’t sure if it was Foghorn or Leghorn, began crowing in the morning, and I assumed that this was the rooster, even though they really did appear alike and were large, healthy and quite magnificent looking birds.
When a hurricane brushed the Virginia coast, I braved the gale-force winds to check on the chickens. They both perched on a grape arbor, beaks into the wind and tail feathers flared out behind them, looking like a pair of classic car hood ornaments.
Then one morning, they both crowed at the same time and we realized we had been had. Shortly after that, Foghorn and Leghorn started acting quite aggressive and even chased my wife around the yard.
So we closed the doors on our egg enterprise. I placed a classified ad in the paper I worked for, offering two roosters free to a good home.
The afternoon the paper hit the streets, a local farmer called and drove out to inspect Foghorn and Leghorn. He proclaimed them fine specimens and opined that they would do a better job than his lazy, good-for-nothing roosters. He placed our birds in the back of his pickup and drove off.
Years later, when Hardy and I lived in Brightwood, Virginia, our next-door neighbor had a small hen named Cluck, who produced eggs. We had a reciprocal dog and cat sitting arrangement with them and when they went out of town we benefited from Cluck’s egg production.
They were smallish, but quite tasty.
After the Foghorn and Leghorn fiasco, however, I never went back into the egg business myself.