Chicken Coop Chatter©
Christopher Columbus sailed the mighty seas, okay, all controversy aside, facts remain that he did sail the seas in search of new lands and he, along with other explorers did contribute a great deal to history.
You may wonder how this all relates to chickens. Columbus and other explorers conquered the world with chickens or maybe chickens conquered the world as a result of the early explorers. Because of those explorers there are chickens around the entire world. Those explorers loaded chickens on board as part of the food supply for the crew. When they anchored, any chickens that hadn't been used for food were released or bartered for other goods, then a fresh stock of chickens was loaded on board again for the next destination. It was during his second voyage that Columbus brought chickens to the New World; the North American Continent.
Back in the 9th century the Vikings in an attempt to conquer the known world, brought chickens on their ships to other lands. Our rare Icelandics are an example of those birds. When birds were released from the ships, they had to fend for themselves, learn to live off the land and adapt to the harsh new environment. They were hardy, disease-free and bred by natural selection when they met up with others of their species, regardless of origin. These landrace birds adapted without the aid of man and thrived on carrion, berries, weeds, seeds, worms and bugs. The landrace breeds are alert, curious, great foragers and very adept at protecting themselves and their offspring.
The term *landrace* signifies any animal, plant or bird that is little known outside it's land of origin. The definition goes into further depth and can have several meanings, but this term works for our purposes. Several of these breeds of chickens have only in recent years been discovered and attempts have been made to protect and conserve them, yet they are still only available in small numbers around the world. We are fortunate to raise a few of these rare and endangered breeds; Altsterier, Swedish Flower Hen, Euskal Oiloa (Basque Hen) and the Icelandics.
We can actually thank explorers like Columbus for sharing chickens around the world, regardless of motive and regardless of who discovered the new lands, the Spanish explorers are credited with bringing chickens to the New World. Chickens feed the world and especially disadvantaged countries, with eggs and the meat they provide. Chickens are easier to raise than herds of cattle, sheep or goats and take less time to mature, which in turn, provides food more quickly, with the least space, and expense. So we can continue to dispute Columbus' importance in the world or accept the fact that he along with lesser known explorers, did in fact provide a significant service in their explorations, including sharing the spices we use to prepare those chickens for the table.
Enjoy your holiday and enjoy the chickens that arrived in this land via explorers centuries ago, seeking to discover and conquer new lands.
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