Friday, August 24, 2012

egg update

Well, the babies are getting the hang of laying, but once in a while Chirpy or Redder will lay an egg with a very thin shell or even just a membrane around the white and yolk.  They started laying when they were VERY young and their bodies are still trying to figure the whole thing out.  They are also under a bit of stress.  The big girls still seem to resent their presence and don't always share treats or the nesting boxes very well.  Even if she doesn't have to lay an egg, Stella will strut around outside the run, creating a voluminous protest.  But, we soldier on and so do they.

Winnie enjoying the peace and quiet of the nesting box
It has been a week since Chirpy last laid a fully-developed egg.  I miss her tiny jade gems!!  I also miss the way Redder stands guard outside the nesting box and waits patiently for her to produce something.  I'm sure Chirpy would appreciate some privacy, but Redder rarely leaves her side.

Chirpy enjoying (?) Redder's company while she works on an egg
As we eagerly anticipate Chirpy's next egg, Redder continues to astound us with her growth spurt - body-wise and egg-wise.  She is taller than Ray and her eggs are actually larger than Ray's now!  On Tuesday, Redder graced us with her usual small egg.  On Wednesday she laid a monster - it bottomed out the egg scale which means it is a jumbo!!  On Thursday she laid 2 thin-shelled eggs and again today, Friday, she laid another jumbo.  I hope our girl doesn't burn herself out.  She's only 6 months old!! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

eggs, eggs & more eggs

I know I'm kind of a nerd girl, but I get very excited every time I collect eggs.  If I'm home during the day I check the nesting boxes several times to see the treasures within.  Today I collected 5 of them before noon - busy girls!!

Eggs fascinate me.  I think they're beautiful AND delicious.  Lately we've been enjoying various forms of a simple salad with mixed greens, warm vinaigrette dressing, bacon and a fried egg on top.  It's so satisfying to crack those fresh eggs into a pan and see the gorgeous yellow/orange yolks and viscous whites.  We know our girls are eating well and it shows!!

Eric is also eating well, as you can see!
If you've been following along, you may remember that Stella had some egg-laying issues a few months ago.  She was on antibiotics for a few days which meant we couldn't eat her eggs for a month.  I could NOT bring myself to throw out her beautiful eggs though.  So, I saved them and got a little crafty.  I used onion skins to make a natural dye and scavenged leaves and flowers from plants in the back yard.  I put the leaves and flowers on the surface of each egg, tied them up in old pantyhose then dyed them.  I love how they turned out.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

so egg-citing!!

A few days ago I was beckoned to the backyard by Stella.  I could hear her cackles inside the house with the windows closed.  It's the sort of noise she makes when she wants to lay an egg and one of the other thoughtless chickens is in her favorite nesting box.  I was confused.  All the other hens were out roaming around looking for bugs and other treats, so I did some detective work to figure out what was stressing her out.  Food? Check.  Water? Check.  Oyster shells? Check.  Shades pulled down in the run? Check.  Stray sparrows evicted from the run?  Check.

After running through the litany of her common complaints, it occurred to me that I hadn't seen the babies for a while.  I looked under the straw bale holder, in the compost bin (a new special place to hang out) and behind the rain barrel.  Finally I peeked in the coop and saw Chirpy in a nesting box with Redder hovering nearby.  That was it!  Stella did not like Chirpy hanging out in there, so I told Chirpy, "Girl!  You are in such big trouble.  Quit messing around and get out of there!"  I tried to shoo her out but she settled back in and started organizing woodchips with her beak.  I told her that I could not be responsible for the trouble that might ensue and left her alone to deal with the wrath of Stella. 

hanging out in the nesting box
An hour or so later I went out and saw Chirpy and Redder outside the run.  Stella was remarkably calm.  When I checked the nesting box, I couldn't believe the lovely sight of a jade green egg nestled in the woodchips.  It was Chirpy's first egg!!   I squealed with delight but was also perplexed.  How did that happen?  Isn't she still a baby?!  Hens usually start laying when they're about 6 months old but our girls were just 20 weeks and 1 day old.  Obviously, our little Chirpy is an overachiever.

Chirpy's first egg!!
Not to be outdone, Redder laid her first sweet little milk chocolate brown egg a few days later.  I was stunned but happy to know that both of our little girls were now productive members of the flock.   The only downside is that Eric missed all the excitement of both of the babies' first eggs.  He was sweating his buns off, biking across Iowa in 100+ degree heat and missed the blessed events.

eggs from Ray, Stella, Winnie, Chirpy & Redder