But, as you can tell, right outside my window is an enormous maple tree, just hanging with pollen bombs releasing this cargo into the wind. One step out the door and my eyes start itching immediately. But since it shades our chickens and provides home for our resident squirrel village, I would never think about cutting it down. I've just endured through maple pollen season.
Three years ago, I noticed that my chickens ate the pollen bombs that dropped into their pen like candy. A lightbulb went off in my head. I remember drinking these nasty little vials of very dilute poison oak extract as a kid, in hopes that my awful poison oak allergy would diminish, and I know friends who get allergy shots with the same purpose. What if I inoculated myself against maple pollen by feeding it to my chickens?
Thus started a three year project of Operation Pollen Eggs where every morning when I let the chickens out, I pick as many pollen bombs as I can carry off of the trees and throw them in the pen. The chickens eat them like crazy, I eat the eggs. That's it.
The first year, I didn't notice much difference. Every foray outside left me miserable. But I started it late in the season.
The second year, I started earlier, as soon as I saw the pollen starting to bloom. I noticed something funny. By about mid-pollen season, I wasn't nearly as affected as in previous years though it was still noticeable.
And this year? No pollen allergy at all. None. I can romp around under the maples with abandon. An eight mile run through the forest and not so much as an itchy eye. And this is from a woman who used to want to claw her eyes out after a foray outdoors in May. I owe it all to my free-ranging, egg-laying, pollen-bomb-eating chickie ladies.
The benefits of eating good, clean, local, real food never cease to amaze me.