Take a look at our farm chickens:
Butter and Egg Money
On just about any farm in the 19th and well into the 20th century, a lot of its cash flow during the course of the year (except when it was time to sell a crop or livestock) was from the money the women made selling butter and eggs. Sometimes this was just the extras from what the family produced chiefly for its own use, other times it was a major undertaking designed to be a cash crop. This money was commonly referred to a “Butter and Egg Money.” Read more here.
In Laura and Almanzo’s case at Rocky Ridge, they were definitely in it for the cash money. Laura had a goal of making $1 of pure profit per hen and she usually made it. A neighbor was quoted in the Missouri Ruralist as saying she could get eggs in the winter when no one else could.
Laura’s operation was a lot more advanced than what Ma had done on the homestead. She had a large flock and produced a large number of eggs for sale. She was also interested in the improvement of operations and chicken breeds and served as head of the chicken department at the local fair.
There are many, many different chicken breeds. Take a look in the poultry barn next time you’re at a 4H fair and you’ll be amazed by the variety.
Check out the Poultry Barn during show prep at the Iowa State Fair in 2012:
Many chicken breeds are bred with a particular purpose in mind, for example Cornish Crosses are large meat birds that put on weight at and incredible speed. Laura raised Leghorns a breed which sadly lays white eggs instead of brown (we’re brown egg people at home). Laura chose the Leghorn because they are known for having a small body size (so they don’t eat much) and for being prodigious egg producers, both factors that I’m sure helped her towards her one dollar profit goal. The downside is that they have small bodies so they don’t produce a lot in the way of meat. If you’re wondering where you might have heard of that name before, think Warner Brother cartoons and Foghorn Leghorn (the human sized rooster who spoke like a southern colonel, the character was in part a parody of comic character named Senator Claghorn on the Fred Allen radio show).
Read more about Leghorns and other breeds. Click on the Ls to get to the Leghorn section.
An Introduction to Eggs
Iowa Ingredient host Charity Nebbe has put together a very well done introduction to eggs and their role in the kitchen and in your backyard.
Watch the video and see if you can find some brown shell eggs and try them out in your favorite baked good. Can you tell the difference?
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.