I've recently had several friends inquire about buying my eggs. I use most of my eggs but am happy to give them away whenever I have a spare dozen, which does happen occasionally.
But I found out that the recent rash of inquiries has come about due to the fact that the price of eggs has skyrocketed, due to the implementation of California's Proposition Two. In case you are not familiar with the jist of Proposition Two, here is a brief description I pulled from a political website:
Proposition 2 created a new state statute that prohibits the confinement of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs. The law is set to go into full effect on January 1, 2015.
So apparently the cost of eggs went up dramatically as California began to implement the conditions set forth in Proposition Two, specifically as it refers to chickens. With out-of-state chicken farms no longer allowed to sell eggs in California unless they adhere to Prop Two's standards, and with California-based egg producers having to create larger cage areas for their own hens, egg prices rose accordingly.
But for me, if I didn't own a single hen and had to pay for all my eggs, I think the price would be worth it. After watching my chickens in their roost, their coop and their run, I have to say that chickens are social creatures who are happier (I know, value judgement) with room to move.
This morning, for instance, I noticed all the hens grouped together in one corner of their run, watching something intently. When I went outside to see what all the fuss was, they were all out there gawking at a California Quail, who was sitting on a fence nearby and issuing a loud mating call to the lady quails in the brush.
At other times, if I am working in my garden while they are free-ranging, they will inevitably find their way over to where I am to see what I am doing. When allowed to do so, they will range over our entire property, scratching, eating greens and digging for insects. In short, hens are creatures that like to inquire, explore and roam.
And so it would make sense that Proposition Two is an important first step in assuring the creatures we keep for food are given at least the bare essentials that would make them comfortable.
It also goes without saying that the less confined the quarters for chickens, the less diseases can spread. Which is good for us as well as the hens.
While nothing will ever be as good as an egg from a free-range hen, with its bright white and deep orange yolk, at least consumers can now buy a dozen eggs knowing the hen who laid it at least has enough room to stand up, turn around, and stretch her legs. That, in my opinion, is worth paying a little more for.