The Girls

The Girls

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fresh EGGS!

Business is booming!  Well, it would be if I could sell these eggs for $45 a dozen.  We'll have to if we're going to make up the cost of this fancy chicken coop... Le Coop DeVille.  The girls are popping out eggs left and right, 4 a day to be exact.  Someone is slacking.  Based on the colors, the slacker has got to be Miss Bunny.  Ameraucana chickens are slow to lay (sometimes) and lay color eggs.  I have no colored eggs.

4 eggs, 2 golf balls
Because the girls are doing so well, we celebrated with yogurt and cheese.  Don't worry, no one has runny poo (please see prior "yogurt day" post).  The poo is fine people!  I gave them yogurt because they like Yoplait.  Ok I also gave it to them because I can't give them the layer feed yet because someone isn't laying and I can't switch feed too early.  SO...the yogurt and cheese is giving them come calcium to make their shells hard.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Soft Shelled Eggs

Hold the phone people, we've got an emergency.  At least that's what I thought tonight.  I thought Dottie was dying. She was standing there like a statue, panting.  The poor girl didn't even attempt to eat a single mealworm I put in front of her little, dotted beak.  I was prepared to stay the night in the coop.  "Maybe she's just hot," I thought.   It was a chilling 104 today, so went to the garage to grab the big fan.   I wasn't even gone for one minute when I come back to find a soft egg in the nest and a broken egg on the ground.   Then I really started freaking out. (Thus, no photos of the broken egg).  I knew someone was stopped up because I only got one egg yesterday.  So what did I do?  Google.  There was no time for  Well Google says it's too dang hot. (Shocker.)  I'm going to post what I read.  Don't feel like you have to read it. I'm only posting it for my future reference in case I forget.  Here's a picture of the egg, well membrane...

In younger hens, sometimes an egg stays in the shell gland for too long and the egg that follows it doesn't spend long enough. In these circumstances, the two eggs are laid closely together on the same day.
Thin egg shells can occur on hot days when the temperature rises. This is associated with a lower food intake and shell thickness will return to normal when the temperature drops and the food intake returns to normal.

A 'soft shelled egg' is one that has a membrane but no shell. Most people immediately think that Oyster shell grit is what a hen needs if she is laying soft shelled eggs but a dietary deficiency can also be the cause of a ‘soft' shelled egg. Whilst chickens need calcium in their diet which can be provided by soluble grit (such as Oystershell) to form egg shells, sufficient calcium can usually be found in modern formulated poultry feeds. Chickens need the correct level of protein in their diet as well as minerals and various other vitamins. Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) for example is used for the metabolism of calcium and phosphorus so that they are able to form egg shells as well as strong bones. Vitamin D is found in Cod Liver Oil but they shouldn't normally need this if they are fed the correct formulated layers feed, are free range and have sunshine on their backs.
Soft shelled eggs laid once in a while are nothing to worry about. Hens that are at the start of their laying period, or have come to the end of it, often lay a soft shelled egg.

If diet doesn't seem to be the problem and soft shelled eggs are being laid regularly during the middle of a laying period, then there could be a number of reasons for this:
  • Inflamation of the oviduct (and there isn't anything that can be done about this as far as I know).
  • Calcium absorbtion problems (if the diet is correct and oystershell grit is provided ad-lib then there is sufficient calcium available but it cannot be absorbed correctly by the hen).
  • Stress. The problem usually goes away once the cause of stress is removed. Keep an eye out for bullying, especially if it is occuring around the nest boxes and you are finding the soft shelled eggs outside of the nest boxes.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Switching gears...

I realize this is a blog about my sweet baby chickens, but I'm switching it up just this once because I have created a monster...a monster of a garden. 

Small widdle plants


The start of the overtaking

Bohemith size tomatoes


What?! 65 tomatoes today?!

I had to do something with them
The girls like tomatoes too

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The versatility of an egg...

What am I going to do with all these eggs?  Well, well my friends...the EGG can be used for so many things.  Think about it.  You can scramble it, fry it, hard boil it, soft boil it, make deviled eggs, poached eggs, scotch eggs, steamed eggs, tea eggs (look it up, its weird), egg souffle,  eggs benedict, egg salad, and sunny side up eggs.  Did I miss any?  Oh wait, there is quiche, omelets, frittatas, egg casseroles, egg drop soup   You can put eggs on a pizza, on a sandwich, on a salad, in stir fry, in a breakfast burrito (my fav).  Eggs are in almost every cake, cookie and pie known to (wo)man.  In addition to ALL baked good, there is egg custard, creme brulee and... wait for it.... EGGNOG.
You can use eggs in an egg toss contest, go Easter egg hunting, let one rot in the car of someone you hate.  I'm talking endless possibilities.  So don't ask me what I'm going to do with 5 eggs a day.  I've got options people.

By the way... there were TWO eggs in the nesting box today!  Ginger was in the nexting box around 11:00 this morning.  Two hours later there was an egg.  I let her have her peace while laying.  Her egg is on the right in this first picture and is slightly larger than the other mystery eggs. 


They have produced 6 eggs I ate one and Cora Grace took the one she found.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Egg 2

I found egg number 2 today!  I think the mystery layer is LittleFoot.  I've decided.  There were signs everywhere.  She's grown all of her waddle.  She squatted first.  She's the loudest.  I caught her inside the coop during the day just walking around (not normal).  There was a black feather in the nesting box.  AND says the Barred Rocks lay early.  So there you have it.  Mystery solved.  I think.   I mean, I guess it could be Dottie, but I think it's LittleFoot.   But wait, egg 2 was in the other nesting box.  What if LittleFoot is not consistent and this is Dottie's egg?  Great.  The mystery is not solved.  Oh well, I guess I'll start saving them so I can make an omelet.  

Linsey and LitteFoot

How do we cook it?!

Oh. My. Gosh.  What if there are no more eggs?  What if that was the only egg we get after all this work?  This could be a $1000 egg.   How do we cook our very first mystery egg?   Do we go traditional and scramble it?  Do we fry it?  Do we cook it over-easy in delicious butter?  The decisions! 

Excited doesn't begin to describe how I felt.  A LOT of thought went into this whole egg cooking process.  It was a tiny egg and we only had one shot.  I found the perfect plate, the perfect pan to cook it in and after much discussion Travis and I decided the perfect way to cook our first egg was over-easy and a little runny. 

A little under 2 inches

Thank you mother-in-law for the perfect plate


I did not make him do this.

The tiny egg was A-MA-ZING. Maybe it was so good because it was 10:00 at night and I hadn't eaten dinner. Or maybe it was just the best fresh egg EVER! 


I have learned so much in the last 24 hours.  A few weeks ago, I blogged about the girls acting like teenagers.  A week or so ago, they started acting needy.  They were loud and really interested in me.  A few days ago,  a LittleFood and Scramble started squatting every time I went to pick them up.  I thought they were scared of me so I looked it up (on the only source of information for raising chickens I've found, and found this...
"Squatting, that's what a hen does to allow a rooster to mount her. So, when a hen squats for a person, she is showing submission to her human.  The squat itself is when the pullet crouches down, tucks her head, and holds her wings slightly away from her body. Some hens will also stamp their feet at the same time, but not all do that. Not all hens or pullets will squat for people, either.  They generally stand up after a few seconds and shake their feathers, as they would do after a rooster dismounts."

Dottie, squatting
So what I've learned is that only 3 of the chickens are mature and ready to lay.  I guess that means Ginger and Miss Bunny are still teenagers.  So immature.

Scramble, squatting

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


ONE of my chickens laid an EGG!!! Just one and I have no idea who it was!  I am so excited!  I have been checking the nesting box because I knew it was getting close, but I didn't expect to find one today!  Someone is an overachiever.  It is only week 19!  They have at least another week to go. Someone has turned into a WOMAN! 

No, there are not two eggs, just the brown one.  I put that golf ball in there so they would know where to lay.  IT WORKED! 

So I ran across the acre to catch Travis on the lawn mower so he could take a picture of our first egg.  We are proud parents.

I let Scramble take the credit, but it suspect the egg layer is LittleFoot.  She's been acting hormonal lately.  Stay tuned... I will let you know how it tastes. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Spoiled chicken

No, the chickens have not "spoiled"... yet.  I am always trying to come up with ways to keep my chickens cool and happy.  Travis says they are like small, little down pillows walking around outside in 103 degree heat.  I feel bad for them with all those feathers, so I've spoiled them today...

Cold cottage cheese and tomatoes
The girls are 18 weeks old and we are still on the count down for eggs.  They should start laying within the next 4 weeks, unless I have stubborn chickens. (Highly likely considering the attitude of their mother.) I've learned that chickens eat just about anything (even chicken! morbid I know), but they have special food to make sure they develop into good egg layers.   They first started out on medicated chicken feed.  It's medicated to make sure they don't get gross chicken diseases. 

Medicated Chick Starter

Big Girl Food
After abut 21 weeks of baby food and these chicks start laying, they begin to eat feed that has more calcium so their eggs don't pop out with the texture of soft, bouncy balls. 

As you can see, LittleFoot is a celebrity.  We have yet to see any of the proceeds from the use of her photo on this bag of chicken feed.  Hmmm...

The backyard chicken craze has allowed one family to rake in millions by developing these chicken treats.  While at the store one day a little girl asked her daddy if they could buy the chickens some "treats."  After explaining that they don't sell chicken treats, they created "Happy Hen Treats" which are just dried meal worms.   I wish I would have thought of it.   I bought some for the girls today. They loved pecking around for these nasty looking worms. 

If and when get fresh eggs I will keep them in a skelter.  If you don't wash the eggs after you collect them, they will last on the counter for about 6 weeks.  The egg skelter keeps them in order by freshness.  Again, an invention I missed the boat on and am out millions.  If you choose to wash the eggs (because they might be covered in poop), you have to keep them in the fridge.  The eggs come out with a coating that protects it and allows it to be left at room temperature.   I'm  not sure what the coating is called, but I like to call it the chicken butt coating.

Egg Skelter