Tag: chickens

The Chicken Chronicles

Can you believe our chickens are still laying well?  This week we had a total of 47 eggs, with the Rhode Island Reds laying 22 of them!  Good girls!  😀

You may be wondering what we do with all those egg shells.  Or maybe you don’t care.  😀  I’m going to tell you anyhow though.  Though I am not good at it all the time, I like to use everything I can of what I have at my disposal, egg shells included.  Egg shells are a great source of calcium, which happens to be a mineral that is needed in the soil.  We save all our eggshells, and then we dry them in the oven before crushing them up to spread over the yard.

Egg Shells

Recently Dried Egg Shells

I mentioned above that the ladies are laying well still, but that doesn’t mean we have a lot of eggs around here.  Besides giving some to the neighbors, it seems my boys have turned into egg eating machings.  We are going through them like there is no tomorrow right now, which doesn’t bother me a bit.  I think they are one of the healthiest foods there are.

I know it is a little early to be thinking about this, but I am seriously considering getting some more chickens next year, though probably only two.  I would like to supplement the flock by two a year, with a maximum of 16 birds.  This would help account for reduced laying as the birds age, and the unfortunate death of a bird or two, which will likely happen over time.

Speaking of that, I think we may have a predator trying to get into the hen house.  We are noticing some digging around the edge on one side.  For now I have covered this with a heavy board and brick, but I have plans to fill the hole up soon.  Thankfully, even if they got into the run during the night, they couldn’t get to the hens, as we lock them in the coop during the night.

The Chicken Chronicles

A few weeks ago I had my first egg-bound hen, and this week I have my first double-yolked egg.  Check this mammoth out:

Double Yolk Egg

Double Yolk Egg Compared to Regular Egg

Obviously, the egg on the left is the double yolk egg and the egg on the right is a single yolk egg.  I know some of you are wondering if we cracked it yet, and we have:

Double Yolk Egg

Double Yolks

So you might be wondering, can a double yolk egg produce two chickens if it is fertilized?  Yep!  Check it out in this hatching video.  Apparently, it is rare for them to hatch, but as you can see, it is possible.  Mine, of course, aren’t fertilized, so that was never a consideration.  😀

The ladies are producing well still, laying 46 eggs this week.  I am still amazed that the Easter Eggers are outlaying the Rhode Island Reds.  The Rhode Island Reds are supposed to be the heavier layers and winter layers, but they are only averaging 0.71 eggs a day per bird, whereas the Easter Eggers are averaging 0.62 eggs a day.  Wait, did you read that?  It just goes to show we can’t always go by what our minds tell us.  I was sure the Easter Eggers were outlaying the Rhode Island Reds per bird, but the facts this week do not show that.  That means the Rhode Island Reds are laying almost five eggs a week each, and the Easter Eggers are averaging just 4.3 eggs a week.  I’m not complaining, that is for sure.

Speaking of that, look at the variety of colors we are getting:

Fresh Eggs

Color Variety in Our Eggs

Both of the two on the left are the “pink” eggs, which we think are laid from Easter Eggers, but they could be laid from Rhode Island Reds.  You can see a normal Rhode Island Red egg in the two eggs second from the right.

I think that is all the exciting egg news for the week other than the neighbors sure are loving the free fresh eggs.  One lady returned the favor this week with a fresh loaf of sourdough bread.  The boys said it sure tastes good.

The Chicken Chronicles

Whew, last week was a whirlwind.  So much so that I never even got around to sharing the record the ladies set last week.  Can you believe they jumped up to 48 eggs‽  That is nine more than their previous week!  Unfortunately, they didn’t hold that kind of record again this week.  Even so, they still produced 43 eggs, which is nothing to sneeze at!

The big event for the chickens this week is that I had one of the ladies who was egg bound.  I am glad this happened while I was home.  I first read up on it on Backyard Chickens and The Chicken Chick.  My initial plan was to let it go for a bit and see if she laid the egg, but after further reading I decided the best time to act was now.  SIGH.

I began by just holding her and trying to calm her down.  She quickly seemed comfortable in my arms as I felt her abdomen to see if I could feel an egg, and indeed I could.  I had one of my boys begin to mix some oyster shells with water, which we would then give to her with a syringe to increase her calcium.  It seem this is one of the causes of a hen being egg bound, as calcium is necessary for contracting muscles.

While my oldest son was helping me with this, my youngest son was filling our bathtub with warm water to give the hen a warm bath.  As crazy as this sounds it helps the hen relax, which often helps them expel the egg.  As I walked toward the house to give her the bath, out popped the egg along with a second one that was not yet fully formed!

I carried her down to the hen house, and after setting her in there she seemed to need a few minutes to recooperate.  Later in the evening she seemed back to normal – potential catastrophe averted.

Had the calcium and bath not worked, things would have gotten more interesting, as we would have had to put mineral oil on her vent.  The problem is not just that she wasn’t laying her egg, but for chickens the vent the egg comes out of is also the vent they defecate from.  In other words, this animal that normally poops every twenty minutes couldn’t go at all.  Ultimately, in the absense of fixing this, she would have likely been dead in a couple of days.

I guess I can now add this to my resume.  😀

The Chicken Chronicles

What a week it has been – one of the busiest in a while.  Last week I was out of town.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean things around the house slow down.

Speaking of not slowing down, let me tell you about the ladies.  You may remember last week that I wondered if their egg production had maybe begun to slow down for the winter, but I am happy to report that it is not seeming to be the case yet.  As a reminder, last week they laid 36 eggs for the week, which was 2 less than the week before.  This week, however, they broke  a record and laid 39 eggs.  Go LADIES!

We blessed our neighbors with eggs this week.  We blessed a few neighbors the week before last, but this week we were able to give each of the neighbors whose property is adjacent to ours half a dozen eggs.  It isn’t enough for most people to not have to buy eggs, but in each case they seemed appreciative.  One of the neighbors also shared an interest in getting hens themselves, which made me smile.

Interestingly enough, it seems the Easter Eggers are outlaying the Rhode Island Reds, which has not been the case up to this point.  There are two more of them, but the Rhode Island Reds have been egg-laying machines up to this point.

Now that the sun is rising later, we have been opening the door to the run before the ladies have really woken good for the day.  Charity was laughing about it several days this week, sharing with me how they were kind of staggering around like children who are woken from their sleep in the middle of a good dream.  🙂

Over the weekend I was having fun poking a cherry tomato into the run and the ladies would all run over after it.  Whoever got it would quickly run to the other side of the run, hoping to escape the others who wanted that tomato as bad as she did.  I think I finally poked enough of them in there that all the ladies that wanted one got one.

There is much more to write, but time is short here.

Be blessed.



The Chicken Chronicles

I knew it was bound to happen.  This is the first week that the ladies have went down in their egg production. Last week the ladies laid 38 eggs, and I had hoped for about 42-44 this week, but they only laid 36.  I am not sure if this was just an off week — they did have two days where the numbers were low, or if the time of year has come where the amounts will begin to decrease.  That said, today was a seven egg day.

OH!  Speaking of today’s eggs – I have long had a suspicion that one of the Easter Eggers is laying a “pink” egg.  I put that in quotes, because it looks quite similar to the brown eggs of the Rhode Island Reds, just lighter in color.  I have been waiting for the day where five brown eggs show up because that would mean that lighter one is indeed a pink egg from an Easter Egger.  That has yet to happen, but today something just about as good happened.  Four brown eggs were laid today and none of them were lighter in color.  This almost certainly means that the lighter colored egg is from an Easter Egger.

I kind of dread the winter with the girls.  Even now, when we don’t get out there as soon as the sun is up, they have their coop in a mess.  We could leave the door to the run open, but I like the added protection it offers.  Even so, come winter we may have to leave it closed some to keep the warmth in with the hens.  Only time will tell, I suppose.

Happenings Around the Homestead

It has been a slow week around the homestead this week.  As I have been saying for a few weeks, the summer garden is reaching the end of its life, and nothing is yet growing for the fall.  In fact, I just put out some fall/winter crops this weekend.

I had really wanted to sow peas or some other legume for the fall to add some nitrogen back to my soil, but I waited to late to get that done this year.  After that snafu, I made up my mind that I would just forego the fall/winter garden this year, but then I became inspired once again.  Yeah, that happens often.  🙂

While it is too late for peas and other legumes, it is not too late for some other fall/winter veggies such as some greens, radishes, and carrots.  I placed an order at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and I sowed what I had already.  That means I sowed Kale and Mustard Seed, both of which I sowed very randomly by just throwing the seeds.  I also sowed some radishes that way.  I then put some White Icicle Radishes in one of the raised beds. and I did the same with some lettuce.

The funny thing is, much of what I sowed this weekend is not for my family, though we will eat of the lettuce and radishes.  I don’t expect we will eat much Kale though, and I am sure we won’t eat the mustard greens.  You might wonder why we grew them then.  CHICKENS!  Yep, it is cheap and healthy chicken food.

Sigh, the things I do for those egg-laying ladies.  😀

The Chicken Chronicles

The ladies have really stepped it up this week.  Their previous record on eggs was 25 a week, and this week they layed seven more, upping that record to 32!  The most interesting thing is the Easter Eggers are hardly laying at all yet.  They are only averaging 2.3 eggs a week per bird, and once they are laying at full capacity this should be around 5 eggs a week per bird.

Oh, I do have an egg pic to share this week.  This is from their record day of SEVEN EGGS!

Seven eggs!  This is the most we have gotten in a single day to this point.

Seven eggs! This is the most we have gotten in a single day to this point.

Even though the run is secure, we have always locked the ladies in their coop at the end of the day.  I figure that this is an added layer of security if a raccoon or opossum gets into the run during the night.  Well, about a week or so ago we found two birds hanging out below the coop in the run when we went down to let them out in the morning!  These two ladies had presumably suffered all night outside of the coop.  Determined this would never happen again, we have been diligently watching for this at night.  Well, on Saturday night when we went down to shut the door, there were two of the Easter Eggers sleeping on a roosting pole in the run!  Those silly ladies!  We ended up leaving the door open that night, but going forward we will pull that roosting pole out toward the end of the day to prevent this from happening again.

The ladies are getting more brave.  I might have mentioned this last week, but I will say it here again.  In the past, they would stay all together and relatively close to the run when we let them out to stretch their wings and eat some grass.  In fact, let me back up.  In the beginning, we would move them from the run to a dog cage, where they could get fresh grass, but be protected.  As soon as we were confident that they could take care of themselves, we began letting them run in the yard, but what did they do?  They ran to the dog cage!  Finally they got past that, and then they would all hang close to the run together.  Then they started wandering a little further away, but generally together.  Now they are going all over the back yard, and sometimes they are going solo.  It’s nice to see them getting more brave, but it also makes it harder to round them up to go back in the run.

All this typing about them running around the yard is making me long for the proper homestead property even more.  One day …

The Chicken Chronicles

Since the ladies have started laying, I have been tracking the number and the size of the eggs.  It is nice to see both numbers increase a little each week, even though I sure don’t notice it during the week.  Candidly, I am often threatening them that if they don’t provide fresh eggs I will be eating fresh meat.  🙂  Yes, it is nothing but an empty threat, but maybe it will inspire the ladies to lay a little more.

I'm trying to encourage the ladies by showing them their good work.

I’m trying to encourage the ladies by showing them their good work.

We ended up with five eggs each day for three days in a row, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and both Friday and Saturday the Easter Eggers outlayed the Rhode Island Reds, which is unusual.  In fact, it may be the first time this has happened.  The Easter Eggers consistently lay smaller eggs though, but they are getting larger.

Look at the above picture again.  Notice how one of the “brown” eggs is kind of pink?  I am wondering if that is an Easter Egger’s egg.  Supposedly they can lay pink eggs.  Perhaps I have one doing just that.  I’ll have to pay attention and see if I can figure out who is laying those lighter eggs.

I am curious to see how the egg production begins to fall off and when this happens.  I think I mentioned this last week too.  Chickens are typically light sensitive when it comes to laying eggs, though I understand the Rhode Island Reds will lay throughout the winter.  We have decided we aren’t going to supplement with lights, as I think God made them to need that period of rest, which I will give them.

My wife is normally the one that lets the ladies out to “stretch their wings”.  She is beginning to convince me that the birds are not dumb animals as many say.  Most of the time she can say something like, “Time to go back in.” over and over, and the chickens start heading for the chicken run.  Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few stubborn birds, but believe it or not, there are times they all just go in.

I have also noticed the ladies are not staying together when we let them out as much.  In fact, they all go their own separate ways.  I do like seeing that they are scratching in the garden more, and I am seeing them get plenty of bugs.  The more the merrier!  I have explained to them that this is one way they should pay their rent.  😀

The Chicken Chronicles

While I was out of town last week, I began to get really excited.  It seemed the egg production was increasing after two days in a row with five eggs each.  Since then it has been relatively quiet though.  I think we had three eggs on Friday, one on Saturday, two on Sunday, and two on Monday.

Speaking of eggs, we have had two oddities lately.  The first is a spotted egg.  Apparently one of the Rhode Island Reds is feeling some pressure to match the Easter Eggers for their unique eggs.  Look what she laid:

Spotted Egg

Spotted Egg

That has not been our only oddity though.  We have also had a shell-less egg laid:

Shell-less Egg

Shell-less Egg


Shell-less Egg

Shell-less Egg

Saturday I was sure we were going to have several eggs.  I was out roasting coffee and heard that egg laying clucking going on all morning.  Come to find out, I think it was a first time layer.  When we checked for eggs later, there was only one there, and it was smaller than what we’ve been getting.

The ladies sure are getting brave.  When we let them out to run in the yard, they used to all stay together, but now they just go off on their own exploring.  That is fine unless we see a neighbor dog coming around.  Even so, we have yet to have an issue.  Yesterday, though, the chickens nearly went to the front yard, which is the furthest I have seen them go.  Brave ladies they are!

I am using the deep litter method in the coop, and yesterday I was noticing how well this seems to be coming along.  Basically by keeping a deep layer of litter in the coop, the smell is minimal and fantastic garden compost is being created.  Charity and I have neither one smelled the coop much.  Charity’s nose is ultra sensitive, so I think that is a good sign.  I think after the leaves fall for the year, I will clean out the coop and move this fantasic compost to one of the garden beds for next year, and restock the coop for the winter with fresh litter (oak leaves).

I am curiously awaiting the slow down of egg production for the year.  I don’t know when that happens for my area yet, though there are some reports that it slows down when the sunlight becomes less than 14 hours a day.  We are already less than that, so it may be soon.  Perhaps that is why they seem to be laying slower than I had hoped right now.  Even so, the Rhode Island Reds are supposedly winter layers.  Hopefully that means we will see a steady flow of eggs from those four ladies all winter long.

The Chicken Chronicles, August 11, 2014

I am traveling for work today, and I will probably schedule this post to go live sometime while I am in the air.  It is Sunday morning as I write this, and I am thinking ahead to my week, realizing I am not going to be able to check each day while I am gone for eggs.  My wife doesn’t quite get the same excitement from this that I do, but I will have to bribe her to be sure and let me know the egg update each day while I am gone.  🙂

Sometime during the day on Saturday, perhaps after I collected the eggs for the day, I decided I probably needed to weigh the eggs to help me better determine how they are growing in size.  I had a total of seven uneaten eggs in the kitchen from our birds, so I took some weights.  Here are the results:

Rhode Island Red Eggs: Average of 1.47 oz (4.4 oz/3 eggs)

Easter Egger Eggs: Average of 1.35 oz (5.4 oz/4 eggs)

Store Bought Large Egg: 2.2 oz

So, as you can see, right now our eggs are less than half the weight of a store bought large egg.  This is a little smaller than I had estimated, but nothing that worries me.  I understand that their eggs will get larger over time.

The disappointment so far has been the number of eggs that have been laid.  The best I can figure, we have a minimum of four birds laying: two Easter Eggers and two Rhode Island Reds.  I come to this conclusion because there have been days where two eggs from each type of bird have been in the nesting boxes.  There could be more than this, but this is the minimum.  On average, we are getting two eggs a day now.  I had wrongly assumed that they would become egg-laying machines as soon as they started laying, but it seems their bodies need to gear up for this some too.

I had to chuckle some on Saturday when I went down to check the eggs.  I always peek in the window first to see if there is a bird in the nesting box, and there was.  There were also two others peeking their heads up through the chicken ladder hole in the floor as if they needed to see what was going on.  😀  Blondie is still the only one I can for sure identify that has been laying eggs.



I haven’t seen another Easter Egger yet, though there has to be one, and I can’t tell the Rhode Island Reds apart.

I have also been intrigued by the ladies’ choice of food.  I thought chickens would eat anything, but ours have not been that way so far.  Even so, there are some scraps they absolutely love.  One of those being tomatoes, and the other being watermelon.  Last night when I went down to check on the ladies I noticed they had cleaned a watermelon rind down to the thinnest green sliver.  It almost looked like leather it was so thin.  They also love most other kitchen scraps, but they aren’t fond of peppers and onions at all, that I can tell.  I suppose this is good, since I can’t imagine this has a good impact on egg taste.