by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor
Before there was an Easter Bunny, egg hunts, or even the tradition of dyeing Easter eggs, God’s creatures already had created a colored egg.
The breed of chicken bringing the eggs into the world is called an Araucana, or Easter eggers.
Named for a South American Indian tribe, they lay extra large eggs that vary in shades from blue to green to olive to aqua and sometimes pink.
One Presque Isle County farm, known for raising exotic barnyard life, has four of the beautiful birds.
Paul and Deb Mastej enjoy raising the Araucanas on their tucked away property in Allis Township.
“They are basically just like your typical chicken, there is nothing different about them,” said Paul. “They eat the same, do the same thing. Just the shell comes out different, with different colors.”
Paul said they are good-natured, docile creatures.
Just the day before, one of the other chickens nipped the back of his hand and drew some blood, while he was getting an egg. It probably would not have happened with any of the Araucanas.
“If I can get one in the coop, I probably can walk over and pick it up,” said Paul. “They won’t fight, they are very calm.”
Paul picked up one of the brown ones and got an earful of cackling in protest, but there were no confirmed bite marks. There was a quick hug and a smile before it was put back over the fence.
Deb knows of another breed called an Ameraucana. She said the eggs have some color, “But the true Easter egg is the Araucana egg.”
The Araucanas also lay eggs more frequently than a typical chicken and provide more omega-3.
It’s been about 25 years since the couple decided to trade in parttime stays to full time. They moved from Royal Oak in suburban Detroit. She did daycare, while he worked at Kroger’s, a Detroit-based grocery store chain.
“We have raised about everything,” said Paul. That would include pigs, sheep and reindeer.
“We started with goats,” she said. “Then, my grandson, who was 2 at the time, he’s 24 now, wanted reindeer for Christmas. We thought he meant a stuffed one.” They ended u
p raising them for 15 years, before switching to mini donkeys and horses.
On the first day of spring 2017, a baby mule, the foal, was born in the barnyard. It was a mild morning when Paul found the animal still wet from the mother giving birth.
Today, the unnamed 3-week-old was a bundle of energy as it raced around vehicles and roosters.
That’s what spring is like on most farms, especially around Easter.
The only difference is one the Mastej farm they know the answer to the age question of what came first, the Easter bunny or nature’s Easter egg.