I have a great fondness for my hens. They are Isa Browns, raised from chicks. Two peeping boxes of yellow fluff that arrived at our local feed store last spring. They grew from babies to toddlers in the safety of our basement bathroom, heat turned up to keep them warm without a momma to do the job. A few died. We ate some this fall, but about fifty of them continue to call the chicken house out by the barn, home.

These ladies provide me with a rich bounty of eggs. Beautiful, big, brown eggs with dark yellow yolks. I haven’t had to buy eggs at the grocery store all winter.

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Until recently, I’ve had enough eggs to sell to, and trade with, friends. (The weather has hindered egg production these past few weeks.) I sell them for three dollars a dozen. I can’t keep up to the demand. But the most fun has been trading. These are some of the things I’ve “bought” with eggs.

Christmas presents. Last December, I was looking on our local online garage sale page for some games to use as stocking stuffers for my children. I left a post asking if anyone had Risk or Crib, and a friend responded with a “yes” about the Crib game.

What would you like for it? I asked.

How about a dozen eggs, he said.

Done. A Risk owner saw the conversation, and said she’d be happy with a dozen eggs in exchange for her game. Cool! Two dozen eggs traded for two stocking stuffers.

Sauerkraut. I don’t want to make it. I have a friends who does, and she’s happy to trade me a jar of kraut for a couple of dozen eggs. Perfect.

Other food stuffs. I have traded eggs for homemade goodies, for yogurt starter, for sourdough bread starter, for deer sausage, for milk kefir grains, and for garden produce. Trading makes me happy.

I’ve also been blessed by selling eggs. Besides buying feed for the hens, I’ve used egg money to pay for drama club for my children, buy a plane ticket to British Columbia, buy books for book club, and in general add to the family treat fund.

I’m not exactly sure where all these feelings I have for my hens and their eggs come from. People have said to me, you can buy a dozen eggs pretty cheaply at the grocery store. And that’s true. But they aren’t family eggs, raised by family hands, nourished with scraps from the family table, and cared for with family concern.

I have happy hens. I think they make happy eggs. And that makes me a happy mom.

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