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High Egg Prices Really Are Just Chicken Scratch

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Everyone's complaining about how expensive eggs have gotten lately, but I haven't been stressing.

I've always bought the extra-pricey eggs anyway, the ones with the drawings of flowers on them, the ones that promise the chickens who laid your eggs were raised on a bucolic farm in Iowa where each hen gets her own house, the chicks are taken for twice-daily walks in tiny perambulators and a trained avian masseuse visits every week to give them a nice Swedish rubdown.

Why do I pay more? I haven't seen any horrible documentaries about factory farming, and it's not like I have money to burn. It's just that I've known plenty of chickens in my time and they're mostly a decent sort.

There was that one rooster who ruled my grandparents' henhouse, the one who, when I was 3 years old, chased me around the yard mercilessly. Each time he caught me, he'd peck me viciously, as if attacking a threat to his masculine dominion. One day, he pushed his luck too far, though. Deciding he'd nipped his last toddler, my grandmother dispensed the Greek version of frontier justice, lopping off his head and turning him into delicious egg-lemon soup.

That rooster was an outlier. Most chickens are swell.

They certainly deserve a bit of luxury in exchange for providing my family with 75% of our protein intake -- more on the weekends, when I don't have to throw away a bunch of cold scrambled eggs after dropping the kids off at school.

 

Then, add to that the bird flu that struck the nation's egg-laying hens last year, leading to the death of millions of chickens. That's not their fault, and if I have to pay more or eat something else for breakfast every now and then, that's OK with me.

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that she thought it would probably be cheaper to raise her own chickens than to buy eggs at the store.

That is untrue.

I know because I once researched raising chickens. Even after untangling the thousands of different breeds (would you like a Cream Legbar or a Rhode Island Red?), I balked after hitting pages of instructions for building a coop with sufficient access to dirt baths and grit, nesting boxes and heated poultry drinkers.

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