Our little Padme finally laid her first egg. It’s not blue, more of a green.
Spring is beginning to look like a reality here in northern Pennsylvana. The snow from our mid-March blowout is starting to melt, the grass is turning green, there were robins in the front yard… and the chickens had gone from 5-9 eggs a day (January/Feb) to 18-22 eggs a day. My average for the month is 17.something per day. I have few who stagger, so it’s highly possible every one is laying.
The next thing you know *cough*
it’s already happened*cough* someone will go broody.
I have this vision in my head of the ultimate chicken coop. Sadly, I have a limited space to work with in the barn. My own allotted chicken space and that’s it. Unless I convince DH to build a second coop, we’re pretty much working with that same space. But I’m constantly trying work in changes and tweaks that might result in something closer to the ideal of my imagination.
We’ve been remodeling the house, and last spring, we did the kitchen, tearing out all the old cabinetry that has been there for close to 40 years.
This full sized until had an old dual oven in the empty spaces. Today, I gotto looking at it and realized that it would make a good ‘maternity suite.’ Kind of like last year’s ideas to put them under the laying beds, or the cat carrier idea (which worked, although it was cramped due to height constraints.)
But this? Could be ideal because could remove the doors, hang curtains for privacy and it was was wide inside to put both a decent sized nest AND a feeder/waterer.
After getting permission from Dad (whose cabinet it is) and asking DH to cut it down, this is what we came up with:
And… as luck seems to have it, I might actually have a broody hen.
This is Maicey. She is My Girl’s favorite hen out of all the others. Maicey has never gone broody before, but it sure looks like it. I’m going to give her a couple of days to see is she sticks with it and give her some of the barnyard mix. I’ve saved out one of Abby’s and Hershey’s (I was there when they laid them luckily) and hopefully some of Pavelle’s. I don’t buy specialty eggs (from breeders or hatchery) for new broodies. Too much of a chance they will be like Ashley, or mean to the babies.
If she stays broody, Maicey will be the first to try out the new broody accommodations.
Hatching versus Eating
Eggs! If you have chickens, then you’ve got eggs. A little or a lot of eggs mostly depends on the size of your flock, breed and time of year. But still – you’ve got eggs.
I recently joined a new FB group for chicken lovers. It’s bigger than the other one I was on, sees a lot more traffic, and has a wider range of chicken-experience.
A post from earlier today has me thinking. The OP (original poster) sells her eggs $2.50 a dozen for eating and $5.00 a dozen for hatching.
She was contacted by a potential customer who wanted to know things like breeds, housing and care conditions, and if she washed/refrigerated her eggs.
Upon receiving answers, the woman tells the OP that she was wants a dozen, unwashed and unfridgerated and will only pay the $2.50. The implication here, between the questions of breeds and living conditions, is that she wants hatching eggs.
The OP’s question is “should I sell at her terms, or refuse?”
A new debate has spawned, however. How do you determine between hatching eggs and eating eggs? And more importantly, should you charge more them? Or less?
(For my international readers, I will make note that here in the U.S.A we have different laws regardless chicken eggs and it is our practice to wash and refrigerate th. I know you guys don’t. That’s okay because I know your standard care and coop/barn cleaning procedures are different than ours. We here in US just have to be different.)
Now… to the question(s) at hand. What determines a hatching egg from an eating egg?
In the stores, eating eggs are not fertile. I can’t stick one under a broody hen or in an incubator and get chicks. Or, in most cases, I shouldn’t be able to. I’ve heard that it happens on occasion.
They are not fertile because the hens and roosters are separated and no hanky lanky has been allowed to happen that might lead to a fertilized egg.
On farms or in backyards across the world, however, there are people raising all kinds of chickens, both male and female. Hen and Roo. Chances are good, if you have a rooster, the eggs you collect each day are fertile. At least some of them.
So… what makes the difference in whether I eat them or use them to raise chicks?
I guess, honestly? In my case, nothing. Most of mine are going to be barnyard mix – mutts with a little bit of every chicken breed I’ve brought home in the last 2 years – so I don’t tend to sell them. I have given some away to friends in the past and know they got nine chicks of a dozen eggs, so 75% hatch rate.
I do sell my excess eggs, usually to people who want to eat farm fresh eggs. And I’ve been known to slip a few under my broody hens, so I can have cute chicks.
However, there are people who started out as backyard chicken keepers or hobby farmers who have gotten “bit by the bug” and went full on Breeder. They have different coops for different breeds, separate areas for breeding pens, have their flocks up to date on all immunizations and went the extra mile to become NPIP certified.
These people have gone the extra mile, put a lot of money and time and effort into their chickens that goes way beyond caring for pets.
As NPIP certified, they are legally capable of setting up shop (a physical store or even a website) and selling their wares – eggs for eating, eggs for hatching, day-old chicks, started pullets, etc. NPIP means they can be a business. Or they could just specialize in a couple breeds in their back yard.
And that also means they can, and probably should, charge for hatching eggs.
How much should they charge? Honestly? I don’t know that either. My favorite site for buying hatching eggs asks different prices for different breeds, different prices if you’re asking for an assortment, and different process for heritage or heirloom birds (these are birds who come from pure bred, non-hatchery stock). All the variables make all different prices.
This does NOT include the price for shipping and handling or tax.
I had a breeder friend whom I know from FB sell me 14 eggs for $40. They were not all the same breed, and some were very rare breeds. I personally think I got a fairly good deal.
Okay, now… before I start rambling and going off on tangents… how about you, dear readers?
Do you sell eggs? For eating or hatching or both? Do you charge more for the hatching eggs? Or just give them away like I do?
Do you have (or think there should be) different criteria for what makes an egg a ‘hatching egg’?
Or, if you’re tuning in from somewhere in Europe, are you still trying to wrap your mind around the fact that we wash our eggs and put them in the refrigerator?
I’m curious, and as I’ve shared my rambling thoughts with you, I’m hoping you’ll share yours with me.
Really Small Eggs
Fart eggs. Rooster eggs. Whatever you want to call them, it’s the term for a teeny tiny egg that sometimes gets laid and often has no yolk.
They can be laid by new layer whose bodies aren’t used to laying eggs yet,or by older hens who may be having reproductive issues.
I found one in the coop last night at bedtime.
Now, we do have two little hens who are just a little over 20+ weeks, and who have started hanging out in the coop more, checking out the nests. One is our chocolate Orpington, Hershey. The self-proclaimed Queen of Fluff.
The other, of course, is her sister, the ever curious little Pavel. Pavelle.
The only thing keeping me from thinking it’s Pavel’s egg, though, is the fact that this little egg is a nice brown color, and the egg Pavel hatched from was more of a very pale peachy-pink. Almost white, but not quite.
Now, there is also Abby, who could decide to go back the business of laying eggs any day now. Just because it’s winter is no reason to think she won’t. She went right back to it last winter, with Pip sitting in the empty nest beside her because he had no clue what his Momma was doing. (and the proceeded to sit in the nest with her newly laid egg afterwards, because apparently she’d left it alone and it needed baby sat. Ah, Pip! A big brother, even then!)
We also have all the Rhode Islands Red who’ve been in and out of various stages of molting this winter.
So… anyone could have laid the teeny tiny egg, really.
A few more pics for size comparison. We had a normal-sized tiny egg (which I assume is Hersehy’s new egg?) the day before, in the same nest. So it could be Hershey’s tiny fart egg.
As you can see, it didn’t have a yolk, just incredibly thick whites. And the shell was hard to crack. Like really. It was thinker than I imagined it would be.
The Flock Update
Well, I promised an actual flock update, because I haven’t given one in a while.
There’s not much to say about the old ones. They hate the nasty Cold White and some of them are still in various stages of molt.
Is this normal molting? I envisioned them losing their feathers in October/November…not January! And yet, aside from Amy, I know I have at least four more hens who are in the midst of a slow molt. Does it always take this long? I’m so glad we haven’t have negative temperatures, because they would freeze! Especially Amy! I mean, look at her!
I’ve been feeding them Feather Fixer mixed in with their regular food, because I heard it helps them molt quicker/get over it faster. Whatever. I don’t think its working. Or else it is working and they would be molting until June without it??? Again, is this normal for it so long???
Seriously,because I feel so bad for the poor cranky things!
Now…since it is cold and windy today, and the flock all opted to stay inside and bug me while I attempted to clean their beds and fill the feeding tubes, I did manage to get pictures of Ashley’s Babies. They are eleven weeks old. as of yesterday.
The tricky part is that all the white ones – Max and the Dalmies – kind of remind me of Eugenie at that age. She was big,had a slightly pink face, which stood because she is white, and I wasn’t sure at first if she was a henny or a slow-developing roo. Keep that in mind as you look at the white chicks. Feel free to click the pics to make them bigger.
Max looked like a boy when he/she was little,but now I see inklings of a little hen.
I think this is the same one I named Dalmie #1 in previous pics. Not sure.
A gentle reminder that as per Twiglet’s comments on prior posts, we think Pip is the father of the Dalmies.
So… I’m betting anything that Felicia is really Felix. If this chick starts laying eggs in the spring, I will be so surprised.
Well, that’s the scoop on Ashley’s Babies. If you’re up for a game of “Henny or Roo?” Feel free to take your best guesses in the comments.
ETA: If anyone is interested in comparing these chicks to Dani and Eugenie at roughly the same age…
And now… here’s a special treat… Abby’s baby Easter Eggers. The will be 8 weeks on Thursday.
These chicks don’t have names. I’m trying not to name them until I know what they are. That, and Little Dude wants to name them after Sith Lords. And I don’t want an Easter Egger named Darth Maul. *sigh*
The darker chick is smaller, really skittish and mouthy. Based on behavior alone, I think she’s a hen. She is curious about me, but afraid to come close. She likes treats and will eat out of my hand and then yell at me for more when I walk away.
The yellow/buff-ish one is bigger and less skittish, but standoffish. Like a little rooster-in-training. He also likes treats but doesn’t demand them, like his sibling.
Now… these chicks are staying. When the other 2 vanished without a trace, I told DH that under no circumstances were we sending either of these to Freezer Camp if they were roosters. Why? Because he told me I could keep Esther if I really, really wanted, but I flip flopped, and then he said “well, you do have Abby’s 6 eggs.” So I aired on the side of Abby having potentially 6 new EE chicks.
This is why you don’t count your chicks before they hatch, people. Pavel hasn’t forgiven me for sending her favorite brother to Freezer Camp… and Abby only has two chicks.
So…unless the little yellow/buff one has major dominance issues with Dots and Pip, these chicks are here to stay. No matter what.
I’ll end this post by pointing out anew section of the blog I’ve just started working on. Meet The Chickens, a series of bio pages for my flock so that when I say Dots, Abby, Jolene, Wilda… you know who I mean. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, but for various reasons, I just haven’t. Mostly because I have over 30 birds at any given time and it’s hard to pinpoint their personalities at a glance. Look for me to do a page or two a month, highlight each bird. Hopefully by the end of 2017, I’ll have gotten them all on there. Right now, it’s just Dots. 🙂
Freezing Eggs for Later
I know I owe everyone a catch up post. All of the babies are getting huge and hard to pin down and the holidays are over. But I’m still swamped with a lot of ‘real life’ issues.
Instead, I thought I would address a question that I asked recently by one of my steady egg customers.
She asked, “can you freeze eggs for later use?”
I’ll start by saying that I’ve never heard of people doing that before and it sounds kind of weird. But apparently, it’s do-able!
The easiest way to do it is to put them in ice trays, sprayed lightly with coconut oil or non-stick spray to make them easy to get out. They will, apparently, last up to a year in your standard home refrigerator freeze.
If you have more eggs than you can use within a few weeks of buying them, you can break them out of their shells and freeze them. Freeze only clean, fresh eggs.
Break and separate the eggs, one at a time, making sure that no yolk gets in the whites. Pour the whites into freezer containers, seal tightly, label with the number of egg whites and the date, and freeze. For faster thawing and easier measuring, first freeze each white in a standard ice cube tray. Then transfer to a freezer container.
The gelation property of egg yolk causes it to thicken or gel when frozen, so you need to give yolks special treatment. If you freeze them as they are, egg yolks will eventually become so gelatinous that they will be almost impossible to use in a recipe. To help retard this gelation, beat in either 1/8 teaspoon salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar or corn syrup per 1/4 cup of egg yolks (about 4 yolks). Label the container with the number of yolks, the date, and whether you’ve added salt (for main dishes) or sweetener (for baking or desserts). Freeze.
Beat just until blended, pour into freezer containers, seal tightly, label with the number of eggs and the date, and freeze.
You can freeze hard-boiled egg yolks to use later for toppings or garnishes. Carefully place the yolks in a single layer in a saucepan and add enough water to come at least 1 inch above the yolks. Cover and quickly bring just to boiling. Remove the pan from the heat and let the yolks stand, covered, in the hot water about 12 minutes. Remove the yolks with a slotted spoon, drain them well and package them for freezing. It’s best not to freeze hard-boiled whole eggs and hard-boiled whites because they become tough and watery when frozen.
(source: The Incredible Edible Egg)
Other Good Sources and Tips:
What To Do With Your Extra Eggs – The Back Yard Chicken Forum
How to Freeze Eggs for Cooking to Make them Last Longer – Huffington Post
Freezing Fresh Eggs – Fresh Eggs Daily
So here’s an update on all the chicks. Abby’s and Ashley’s both.
So, I’ll start with Abby’s chicks. Most of her eggs hatched yesterday, a day early.
Five of them hatched yesterday, and Abby held on to the other egg until mid morning and then she moved off the nest to eat and drink. When she does that, I know the egg won’t hatch, so I removed it.
Of the five remaining babies, one of them passed sometime this afternoon. I found it when I came back from grocery shopping. Sad because it was the cutest one (IHMO) and the one I liked the looks of the best.
I am very disappointed about the little yellow-ish colored one. He was different looking from the others.
Okay, so Pip isn’t one of Abby’s new Littles, but he washer very first Little. He spent most of yesterday going in and out of the coop, pacing and just seemed to be hanging out. He and Abby have a special bond. I have often observed that even though most people don’t give chickens credit for ‘family ties’ in the way we humans think of family, Pip and Abby seem to have it. He has ‘helped’ watch after her other hatches, being the protective big brother to Pavel, Hershey and the Boys all summer. He is respectful of her. In my mind, he was pacing the coop yesterday because he could hear the change in her soft buck-bucks and hear the peeps of the babies,and he knew that his Momma was having her babies.
Today is a different story and he was outside helping Papa Dots watch over the flock! But yesterday he was waiting to be a big brother again. Pip, btw, will be 1 year old on the 29th. Happy Birthday, Baby Boy!
Now… Ashley’s babies… some of whom could either be Pip’s little siblings or offspring depending on which hens mated with which rooster… are going to be four weeks old this Sunday.
They are STILL here. They are, however, very difficult to ‘pen down’ to get pictures of. Ashley has kind of reared them to be wild. I walk out to watch them and they run as far away from me as they can.
I did manage to scoop them up and get some comparative pictures tonight, so we can see how they are, and make some early guesses on Hen or Roo.
First up here is Miracle Max. Max is the biggest. No longer yellow, he is mostly white, reminding me a lot of Eugenie. He (I’m guessing Roo) has a big comb, which is already slightly pinkish and the beginnings of jowly wattles.
This one is is Dalmie #1. She has a black spot on her back and a little higher up on her shoulders, otherwise all white. Smaller comb and almost non-existent wattles. She’s slim in body and has slightly more slender legs.
In case you can’t guess, I’m betting on a little henny with this one.
This is the Dalmie #2. He has a big comb and the start of jowly wattles, but his comb isn’t as pink as Max’s. He’s mostly white, but with a strip of black in his tail and a splotch of up in his hackle feathers.
I included a picture of his feet. Both of the Dalmie’s have slightly grey legs. It’s like a combination of the Golden Comet yellow with the grey of the Australorp. I’m willing to bet anything that the Dalmies are white Australorp crosses.
This is Felicia, aka the Cinnamon Bun. I promised a friend I would name one Bye Felicia… and this is the one we chose to bear that name… and I can’t decide if Felicia is really Felicia…. or Felipe. Smaller comb, but bigger than Dalmie #1’s. Slightly noticeable jowls… but not quite.
This chick also is one of the bolder of the four, and I’ve seen him/her butt chests with Max. That’s usually a sign of a boy, except that I’ve seen hens do it, too, even at that age.
Felicia is my Question Mark. Hen, Roo… this chick is going to keep me guessing.
And while you all are guessing … here’s a video I took this morning of the four of them, plus Ashley, playing a rousing game of “It’s mine! It’s mine!” with something they foraged out of the grass.
One of these days, I need to write down my thoughts on the different types of chicken parenting I have observed this year. Abby, Claire and Ashley each have exhibited vastly different styles of chick raising. Abby is a helicopter mom, always close to her chicks, always near by. Vicious if you threaten them. She isn’t afraid to lay into the hen or rooster who get close to her babies. She barely trusts me with them. Claire is an overseer, who leads her babies outside,demonstrates skills and watches them practice til they learn. She lets them roam, but guards the space she’s designated as theirs. No one goes in or out without her leave. Ashley is very hands off and scatter brained. Her babies follow her, learn from watching, but she often just wanders off and leaves them alone while she forages elsewhere. They freak out, cry and cry until she returns. Vastly different from my other mother hens.
Yes, that is a post for another day,when I have more time to collect and present my thoughts. 🙂
On this November Day
I have a lot of things to update on today.
I’ll start with Abby. I reported earlier that she had gone broody while I was fussing over Ashley’s impending hatch date. I decided to order her some Easter Egger eggs to hatch, and they came from My Pet Chicken last Friday.
They shipped quickly, but got sent to the wrong post office, and almost went back to Harrisburg for re-distribution before I caught up with them. It would have taken another week to get them back, almost. Instead, I went to the post office they had been sent to, the next town over, and got them myself. Because there was no way I was making Abby stay on the fake egg longer than she needed to.
Yesterday marked Day 7. Next Friday, I will candle them and see how they are doing. Hopefully, they all will be okay, despite their weird shipping ordeals and the late fall conditions.
Now, onto sadder news…
It’s been months since I first reported the oddity of Pacing Stacey. The situation has not changed. I’ve tried quarantining her, putting her in a smaller cage so hopefully she won’t pace (she did anyway). I’ve tried watching and frequently removing her from the coop. I’ve asked on-line for advice. And last week, I asked a vet.
The vet was astounded and said she has never heard of that before. She is a chicken owner, too. We tossed possibilities around and then she said that IF I brought Stacey in, the most they could do was prescribe antibiotics and hope for the best. I told her I was thinking about euthanizing Stacey. She understood, but added that if I decided to keep her over the winter, to let me know how things progress.
Things I know:
- Stacey is still laying eggs. I’ve seen her.
- She’s lost weight, and while she’s not starving, she’s a considerable size smaller than her same-breed, same-age flock mates.
- She’s obsessive about this. Like OCD obsessive.
- The other hens are getting annoyed with her and have started pecking her when she gets close to them.
I don’t see how #4 is going to change over the winter. They will in closer quarters when they are trying to decide if they want to venture into the cold white and most of the older girls are molting. They are cranky. Stacey is annoying. It’s a BAD combination.
Thus, I’ve decided the only course of action, after months of trying to figure this out, is to put us all out of her misery. Euthanize. Freezer Camp. Whatever you want to call it.
I feel bad. I wish I knew something else I could do to take this away from her. Make her normal and happy again. Since I cannot, I must do what’s right for the rest of the flock.
Freezer Camp has been scheduled for tomorrow. Stacey isn’t the only one to go. We will be saying good-bye to the Boys of Summer. Dani, Esther, Snickers, Sumi and Taller.
There was a lot of debate in the last few weeks about keeping one of Abby’s boys.
Esther was the only Easter Egger. But with Abby sitting on six EE eggs, chances of getting another EE roo are good, too.
Sumi and Taller, the Sulmtaler Brothers are a rare breed. I tried to sell them online, but no one wanted them. Then I missed the animal swamp because of my daughter’s cross country meet. Apparently, there was someone there with same-age female Sulmtalers. DH said I could keep one to breed with if I got a hen.
I didn’t get the hen because I missed the swap.
I might have kept Sumi anyway, except I accidentally terrified him a week and ago. It’s a short story. The temperatured drops so that it was switching between sleet and regular rain. He and Esther were hiding under the ramp. I tried to get them both into the coop, wearing my winter hoodie. He’s afraid of me now… like total full on freak out afraid. He flies into a tizzy if I get near him and runs away.
Snickers is a big beautiful beastie, all chocolate brown and fluff. But he’s also a bit untamed and wild. Not mean, just untouchable.
However, Dani is at 22 weeks and the rest of the Boys are at 16 weeks.
And, as noted, most the older girls are molting and cranky. Dots is molting and cranky.
I have one little momma and four wee ones.
And one broody sitting on six eggs,with two weeks to go.
I found blood on the window ledge today where someone was scrapping with someone else.
It’s time thin the flock. It’s time for Freezer Camp. So the Boys of Summer will be joining Stacey on her journey tomorrow.
I’m REALLY going to miss them. We’ve been having crowing concerts the last few mornings and afternoons. Little roosters have such personality and do such amusing things. Not to mention being beautiful. Even Dani, who’s looks I wasn’t impressed with at first, has grown into a handsome, handsome mutt. He’s tall like his papa and brother, and looks like bulkier. Also, if we kept him, I think he’s more dominant than Pip. Pip is definitely NOT an alpha. Dani is.
Here is a good video of Snickers and some of the boys. I took a few more yesterday and the day before, I’ll most them to my Instagram later. There will be available here… or via the sidebar on this page.
Not many pictures of Stacey. All she really does anymore is pace. It’s sad.
R.I.P Little Ones, Where Ever You Are
ETA: We found them! They are alive!!!
Today is a bittersweet day at house. My husband and I took a leap of faith a few weeks ago and decided to become members of the church we’ve been attending.
Today, during the church service, we and 5 others were formally recognized and welcomed by the rest of the church. It’s the beginning of a new journey for us.
Later on this same afternoon, My Girl took and passed her driver’s test. She is now a licensed driver, according to the great state of Pennsylvania. It’s the beginning of a new journey in her life, too.
And, as the title of this post suggests, my coop is missing some of it’s flock members tonight.
Ashley’s babies Littles,who just this morning celebrated their 1-week birthday, are gone. All of them. Vanished without a trace.
It’s been raining. And they’ve been refusing to go outside, even though Ashley has tried a couple times to coax them out. Mostly, they’ve hung out in the coop. And it’s been raining today.
They were in the coop this morning, when Little Dude and I went down to feed and open the door so the Big Hens could go outside. We cleaned up, gave everyone water and food and played a little with the chicks. Then we went to get breakfast and headed off to church.
DH and I had a bible study at 6pm, so we left Little Dude with my mom and dad. He knows what to do to lock up and collect last minute eggs. We got a call shortly after, from my mom. Little Dude was panicking. He couldn’t find them Ashley was there, “sitting” on nothing because she is still in broody momma mode. But the babies are gone.
While we were gone, Mom, Dad and Little Dude searched for them in the dark and in the rain.
When DH and I got home about 45 minutes later, we also searched. Everywhere we could with flashlights. I checked the bedding, the run, the coop, the tunnels, the bushes and the truck cab. In the dark, in the rain.
There’s simply no sign of them at all. 😦
I’m going to look for bodies in the morning. Just in case I missed them in the darkness. But at this point, I have to give up hopes of finding live chicks. They need a momma’s body heat to keep warm, and it’s been too long.
Here is the last video I took of them, taken yesterday morning.
Rest in Peace, wee little ones. Maxie, Cinnamon Bun and the Dalmies. Sweet babies taken too soon.
Four Feather Babies
Well, Ashley pushed the last egg out of her next this morning, walked around and made an attempt to convince her babies to follow her outside. They did not.
Assuming she was telling me that the last egg was not going to hatch, I removed it from the coop and got her and the four remaining babies some food and water.
The other egg, the one she was trying to ‘help’ the other day… also died. I figured it would if it couldn’t get out on its own.
So Ashley has four little wee feather babies.
Here’s a video of them from yesterday.
I’ve removed them from the laying bed they were in and into the cat carrier. It’s a little snug for a bigger hen like an Australorp, but still a safe place for the Wee Ones to be.