Posts tagged ‘eggs’

December 20, 2012

And Now for the Chickens!

On the third day of Christmas da, da, da, da, da, da… three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree…  Scratch that.  We have three hens, but our hens are not French.  We also don’t have two turtle doves, but we do have two dogs, oh, but no partridge, just a cat.  But we do have a pear tree!  Two actually. Oh, and did you know that Partridge is a type of chicken.  I don’t have one, but discovered it the other day.  I love tidbits of information like that.  But you’re not here for that…

Back to the chickens.  As I said, we have three hens, but they are not French.  One is English, one is American and the other is probably American, no definitely American.  Anyway, as you may recall, we adopted “the girls” from a friend-of-a-friend of my Dad’s about a month ago.  They are all about a year and a half old, born around Memorial Day of 2011.  The girls, having had previous owners, already had names.  Jolene, Billina and Zydeco.  Although we contemplated renaming them, we really couldn’t come up with any names that seemed to make them worth changing.  I mean Souffle, Omelet and Scramble just didn’t seem right and besides these are chickens, hens if you will, so giving them egg names didn’t seem appropriate.  We came up with some other names too, but nothing really stuck so we decided to keep them as is.  Plus, all of our other animals were named before we adopted them and we kept those names, to honor their history in a way, so we thought we should do the same for the chickens.  I should clarify, when I say “we”, it’s mostly me, having conversations with myself, running it past the rest of the family for their input to which I usually get head nods and “sure” as a response, hence “we”.

And Now for the Chickens!

Jolene

Jolene

 First up is Jolene, named after the Dolly Parton song.  Jolene is a Buff Orpington, a breed originating from England. Jolene is at the top of the pecking order in our coop (both literally and figuratively).  She also got a bit stressed when she first moved in (hence the feathers missing from her chest in the picture above).  Jolene makes me laugh.  She’s curious, and the most trusting of me so far.  We think she was the first to lay an egg for us too but we can’t be certain because two of them lay brown eggs, she’s one of them.  Jolene really likes treats.  She prefers apples and carrots and attempts to eat an occasional finger if you don’t bring her treats.

Billina

Billina

Next up is Billina, a Silver Laced Wyandotte, an American breed developed in New York State, in the early 1870s.  Billina is named after the chicken in the Wizard of Oz books, specifically Ozma of Oz.  (I’ve never read it, but now need to.)  Billina is a bit of a funny girl.  She’s the quietest of all of them thus far.  She’s observant, confident, yet not the first to check anything out.  She’s always the last to come out in the morning and last to go in at night.  Billina also lays brown eggs.

Zydeco

Zydeco

And last but not least, Zydeco.  Zydeco is an Ameraucana, also known as an Easter Egger, an American Breed known for laying light blue, green or pinkish-brown eggs.  Although the previous owner wasn’t positive of the reason for her name (she shared ownership of the chickens with two others), Zydeco is a mixed genre of music (which I happen to like) found in Louisiana combining Cajun, Blues and Rythym and Blues.   Zydeco has yet to lay any eggs since moving to our place, but we saw proof at her previous home that she lays green eggs.  Zydeco is pretty cool.  I love her tail!  She’s a curious, but cautious girl so far, she still scampers a little when I go near her too.  Oh, and I think she might be the smartest of the girls too.  I swear she knows her name, more than once she’s turned and looked at me when I’ve said it.

The girls arrived a little over four weeks ago and just started laying eggs on December 12th (easy to remember 12-12-12).  At first it was one egg per day, then there were two, then one, then two.  We are still anxiously awaiting a day where we get three and that one of them will be green (which would mean Zydeco is finally laying).

First eggs from the girls!

First eggs from the girls!

As of right now, we have 11 eggs from the girls. You’ll notice a “J” and a “B” on the eggs above, there was a lot of squawking in the coop the other day.  Jolene made a big stink every time someone laid an egg so I happened to know which chicken laid which egg.  Just to clarify any confusion, the eggs did not come out with their initials on them (as my son briefly thought) I marked them to see if we could determine who laid the others.

You might wonder why we haven’t eaten any eggs yet.  Well, I’ve been saving them up to make custard pie.  Now I have plenty for a pie or two and some other treats.  Seriously can’t wait!  Oh, and yes, now I will start eating them for breakfast too.

Kate

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November 13, 2012

Facing Our Fears Part II: Chickens

As you probably already know, I have been contemplating getting chickens for a while.  Then, when I decided that chickens might be a good idea I planted the seed with my son (easy target) and husband (surprisingly easy target).  I expected at least a little resistance, I got nothing.  Then came the chicken class… a success!  I wanted to get started right away.  Then reality set in and I realized that next spring would be better.  That would give us enough time to select a coop design, get the parts and pieces, build it, wire it, critter-proof it.  We could ask for chicken stuff (lights, waterers, heaters, etc.) as gifts for birthdays and Christmas and finally, next spring, we could bring in baby chicks.

Then a curve ball.  A friend-of-a-friend of my Dad’s has chickens needing a home.  He asked if we’d be interested.  Sure, why not?  (I’m a sucker for taking in animals that need a home.)  We went and met the chickens.  They were cool. We saw their current coop and knew that while the coop worked great in their current location, it wouldn’t work so well in our yard.  Backing up to the nature center means everything short of lions, tigers and bears (oh, my!).  So, after going on the Twin Cities Chicken Coop Tour and scouring the web for coop designs we decided on this one, except ours will be blue and a mirror image (so we can see the chickens from the house) and got to building.  That, was a month ago.  We’re still building.  Speaking of which, did you know that you can end a drought by simply building a chicken coop?  It’s true!  We literally were in a drought.  Hadn’t had a drop of rain for months… until the day we started building the coop.  Then the sky opened up and the rain started coming.  And, it hasn’t stopped since.  Okay, actually it has, on the days we are not building the coop.  That aside, we’re getting there.  And hopefully very soon (I don’t want to say when for fear of jinxing us again) we will actually have the chickens.

Back to my fears.   As you may or may not have read in the first installment, Facing Our Fears, my first fear to face was writing.  Now that I’ve worked through that, my fear is chickens.  I outlined a few of my chicken fears in U is for Urban Farm (a.k.a. Contemplating Chickens), but there’s more.  So why on earth would I want to build a chicken coop and get chickens?  Well, okay, it’s not the chickens I fear.  It’s the stuff that goes along with chickens.

I hate winter.  Period.  I love the snow.  I think it’s beautiful.  Beyond that, I avoid going outside on cold days.  I hate cold fingers, cold toes, cold ears, cold noses… Although it is kind of cool when it’s so cold out, that when you sniff, your nostrils stick together.  Oh, that and frosty eyelashes are kind of cool too… but other than that I hate cold bodies, cold cars and cold seats (car and toilet)!  So what better plan to get over hating winter than to get chickens, right?  Yea, I know.  I’m not sure about that either, but I’m hoping it will help.  If I have someone or in this case, chickens, to care for, I’m hoping I will come to ignore the rain, snow, sleet and cold and just enjoy the chickens.  At least I’ll get to hold a warm egg in my hands, right?

Bird poop.  I hate bird poop.  I fear bird poop.  As a kid, while in Seattle visiting my Aunts and Uncles, I was sitting with my feet up, stretched across to another chair and a flock of sea gulls, or was it pigeons, flew overhead and a moment later, I felt the warm splattering gush of goo in-between my toes.  Um, yea, I cried.  And then, one morning at the bus stop,  a couple of years ago, I was chatting with a couple of other Mom’s on the block.  It was a clear morning, not a cloud or a bird in the sky, we were busy chatting when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a huge blast of bird poop hit my arm.  It splattered not only all over my entire forearm, but my clothes and all over my friends too.  Talk about gross!  We all scrambled, checking our pockets for a napkin, Kleenex, anything, to wipe it up.  A friend of mine found a receipt in her pocket.  I’ve never been so grateful for a receipt, ever.  That, and my second shower of the morning.  Anyway, I’ve got this fear of bird poop.  So, you might ask, why would I even consider chickens? After all, they are poop factories, right?  Right!  But their poop is good stuff!  Their poop will be combined with my compost, making my compost cook faster and make my garden soil even richer!  So I’m hoping to get past my fear of bird poop for the good of the garden.

My other chicken fears?  Chicken death.  Chicken death-by-dog, death-by-fox, death-by-raccoon, death-by-hawk, death-by-eagle, death-by-owl and death-by-weasel.  Until recently I wasn’t afraid of death-by-weasel, but my nephew just told me of chickens getting killed by weasels.  I don’t even know if we have weasels here because I’ve never seen one, but I added death-by-weasel to the list because now it’s in the back of my mind.  Thanks, Jeff. 😉  Hopefully our coop design will fend off all of these death-by-critter fears, and I will no longer need to fear chicken death, but time will tell.

Death-by-weather.  Living in Minnesota you can’t help but worry about how the chickens are going to hold up in the cold.  We are going to be getting cold-hardy chickens (I know, I didn’t know there was such a thing as cold hardy chickens either) so hopefully any mistakes we make will be offset by their hardy genes.  Cold weather means making sure their drinking water doesn’t freeze, making sure they don’t freeze and did you know if they roost on too narrow of a board they can get frost bite on their feet!?  I think I’ll make them recycled sweater mittens for their feet.  Recycled sweater chicken booties. 🙂 Oh, and then there’s the heat.  When it’s not too cold, it’s too hot and chickens don’t sweat.  Like dogs, if they get too hot, they pant.  Panting = chicken death.  Not good.  If anyone has a Barbie window a/c unit about 4 inches by 4 inches, let me know.  We’re getting a Thermo Cube too, which is a temperature controlled outlet, so hopefully that will take some of the thinking and worry out of the of the death-by-weather scenarios.

Okay, all my fears aside, I’m hoping for a bond.  The chickens we’ll be getting are over a year old, already producing eggs (bonus!).  They haven’t been handled a lot, so I’m hoping my wanting to hold them won’t be offensive.  I’ve heard that chickens LOVE kids.  I’ve heard that they will follow them around and treat them like their own (which should be humorous).  I’ve heard of them snuggling and watching TV, although we WON’T be having chickens inside the house.  At least not yet. 😉  I’ve heard chickens are guaranteed entertainment.  I’ve heard that you can train them to do tricks and that they like to be petted.  I’ve heard that even on our worst days just watching them can make us laugh and smile.

Long term, I’m hoping to love the chickens.  I love that they’ll be eating our kitchen scraps and converting it to good stuff for the garden.  I’m looking forward to having fresh eggs and making custard pies.  I’m looking forward to the challenges and fun the chickens will bring.

I’m also looking for a pair of rubber boots to wear in the coop.

Kate