Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘eggs

Popular Nest

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We have four nest boxes in the coop for the hens to lay their eggs. History has revealed the box closest to the chicken door is the most popular.

I suppose when ya gotta lay, the first box might be a welcome necessity.

Cyndie is suspecting we’ve got a rogue who has chosen a spot other than the coop, based on the daily total of eggs collected falling a little short of expectations. She reports a pattern of suspicious chicken “call-outs” that frequently occur post egg-laying now emanating from a location other than the coop.

A cursory survey yesterday afternoon didn’t provide any evidence supporting her theory, but the fact this situation has occurred twice before feed our belief it is not only possible, but likely.

I told her she should let Delilah search using her incredible scent-detecting nose, but then we both felt a hesitancy over offering any encouragement to our intrepid tracker for predatory behavior toward our chickens or the eggs.

If it turned out to be just one hen choosing a remote location, that wouldn’t be such a big deal. Since the egg counts have seemed to be down by more than one a day this week, we are a little concerned that allowing this behavior to go unchecked might inspire more hens to participate in laying eggs in a nest of their own making.

Maybe it is unlucky we’ve seen such little evidence of predator pressure on this latest brood of birds and it has nurtured a complacency about their level of risk. Sure, they are domestic chickens, but they need to realize they are living in the midst of actual roaming wildlife.

A lone hen sitting on a nest in the woods of the neighbor’s property behind our shop garage (where Cyndie senses the familiar clucking outbursts have been coming from) will be no match for the fox that has been caught on the trail cam crossing onto our land from nearby.

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Written by johnwhays

April 7, 2021 at 6:00 am

Snow Returns

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It is March, after all. We expect it to snow after the weather has been warm and gorgeous for days. It is one of the foundations of the prevailing expectation that “the other shoe will drop” when things are beginning to go too good in the weather department around these parts. Mother Nature wouldn’t want to let us off too easily with a quick and painless slide directly into spring, don’t ya know.

I watched the weather radar most of the day from the workplace and it looked like Beldenville was getting just as much snow as the sloppy mess that was covering my car by the time I was ready to leave. As soon as I got underway in the limited visibility due to heavy falling snowflakes, I phoned Cyndie to find out what was waiting for me on the other end of my commute.

She shocked me with a report of zero precipitation falling and just grey skies all day long. Well, that is, except for first thing in the morning.

Cyndie had sent me that image earlier in the day. “Red sky in the morning, Sailor take warning…”

For all the radar signals I’d seen over our area most of the day, none of the precipitation was reaching the ground. I hardly believed her, especially given the intensity of the blizzard I was driving through at the time. Then I reached the halfway point of my commute and the falling snow abruptly stopped.

The road was dry. The rest of my drive was clear sailing. I drove right past our place to arrive on time at my dentist’s office for a regular 6-month appointment, stopping just as little white flakes started to fall there. The precipitation finally was reaching the ground.

By the time I made it home, the snow was just beginning to cover the ground, although, it was already drifting off the roof.

As darkness fell and Cyndie trudged out to close the chicken coop, she wondered if it would be necessary to clear them a path from the barn overhang to the coop.

Nope. They took it upon themselves to muster the gumption for a mad dash bee-line route through the white stuff for the shortest distance between two points.

So much for Rocky’s usual prissy refusal to walk on snow unless momma shovels a path for him. I knew he didn’t have some medical condition that prevented his feet from being able to touch snow, but I think he had convinced Cyndie with his act.

Once all the birds were accounted for in the safe confines of the coop and all the eggs had been collected, Cyndie reported a record of ‘most-eggs-in-a-day’ for this brood: Eleven eggs from thirteen hens.

They’re not going to let a return to a little cold and snow slow them down.

Just in time, our new extra-large ice cube trays arrived yesterday for Cyndie to use for freezing eggs, sans shells. Convenient storage for future use in baking or cooking egg dishes when we no longer get a dozen eggs a day.

What can be said, except, “Eggcellent!”

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Written by johnwhays

March 16, 2021 at 6:00 am

Not Rare

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Whatever the data source was that Cyndie happened upon which touted the rate of occasions of double-yolk eggs as being about one time in a thousand, I think it was based on a “universal” average. Something along the lines of randomly buying a thousand eggs from which you might get one double yolk.

It doesn’t likely apply to a situation like ours where a specific thirteen laying hens are producing eggs that are collected every day.

Either the double yolk is contagious or one of our hens is regularly releasing two yolks in quick succession that are getting covered by one shell. Cyndie says we’ve had at least ten, maybe a dozen doubles, since more of the young ones have begun to mature to the age of laying in the last few weeks.

We are up to around 7 to 8 eggs per day. We are finding the little –and not so little– treasures in all four of the nest boxes, with the first box closest to their access door the clear favorite. There is also one scofflaw who prefers making her own nest in the straw Cyndie added under the poop board to increase insulation during that bitter cold snap.

The straw will go away when the day for a full spring cleaning arrives and the floor of the coop will return to being covered with sand only. We’ll see if the oddball continues to ignore the nest boxes and chooses sand over wood shavings.

If we were selling our eggs, we could charge a premium for a dozen of the double-extra-large eggs, except we don’t have any cartons that would hold them.

When the hens exceed our rate of consumption and Cyndie’s baking extravaganzas, surplus dozens get distributed to family and a few lucky friends. Get ready, kids! There are fresh eggs in your near future!

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Written by johnwhays

February 26, 2021 at 7:00 am

Early Production

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After the appearance of a new small egg a week or so ago, we are noticing more of our young chickens are beginning to lay. I’m always impressed that they actually use the nest boxes, of which we have four. It’s interesting that we commonly find two hens squeezed into the same box at the same time.

Yesterday, Cyndie discovered one of the layers hasn’t figured out the nest box routine and was laying eggs in the sand of the far corner below the poop board, where visibility is restricted.

They didn’t fare well unnoticed for a few days against the frigid winter temperatures.

A small “first-try” egg also showed up in one of the feed pans.

We have a range of sizes showing up during this start-up period.

It won’t be long now and we will be flush with fresh free-range eggs. Hopefully, they will be showing up in the nest boxes more often than not.

Our track record in this regard tells me we have good reason to watch out for out-layers.

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Written by johnwhays

January 21, 2021 at 7:00 am

New Eggs

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Our newest batch of chickens appear to be coming of age. The hours of daylight have started to noticeably reveal their shift in duration so maybe that is inspiring our young ones to get on with the whole egg-laying process.

Cyndie reported the surprise of finding two little eggs in the nest boxes yesterday. It’s not entirely surprising, since it is right on schedule for their age. The timing for us with this latest brood is just a little off because they were hatched so much later in the year than the first two batches we’ve raised. We are not used to seeing this kind of laying activity in January.

It’s exciting. And a little mind-boggling, when we consider there may soon be around a dozen eggs a day.

If we keep this up, Wintervale may need to start marketing eggs for sale.

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Written by johnwhays

January 15, 2021 at 7:00 am

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Clear Evidence

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As autumn dries out the growth across our landscape, all sorts of sights that were once buried in greenery are becoming revealed.

It is clear that our Wyandotte didn’t entirely kick her habit of finding places other than the nest boxes for laying her eggs this year.

Cyndie found these after several obviously old eggs began to appear in unlikely open spaces in the nearby vicinity. It seems as though some critters of the night had discovered the stash and were working on moving them to hiding places of their own choosing.

It’s a good thing we aren’t trying to subsist exclusively on the production of our layers. As always, I like having the chickens for their ability to control flies and ticks. Free-range eggs are a byproduct. Indeed, a precious bonus, but not a requirement we demand of them.

Still, it’s sad to find the bounty we’ve been missing out on that has gone to waste.

Silly chicken.

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Written by johnwhays

November 10, 2020 at 7:00 am

Who’s This?

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We have a new intruder on the property, one we didn’t even recognize. When Delilah triggered on something in one of the stalls in the barn, Cyndie reeled in the leash to keep them separated and stepped up to snap a photo of the mysterious critter.

Do you know what this is?

We searched a range of wild animal images and whittled our way down to this: fisher.

This led to more questions than answers. Is it just passing through? Was it seeking a chicken dinner? Why was it out in the daylight?

Cyndie brought Delilah up to the house, grabbed my pocket camera and headed back to the barn in hopes of capturing a better image. By the time she got there, the animal had vanished.

Where did it go?

Cyndie subsequently made multiple trips out to check on the chickens, just in case. By sundown, all eight hens were secure on the roost in the coop.

In a curious side note, we have not been finding very many eggs in the nest boxes lately. Oddly, Cyndie found an egg on the ground outside the coop this afternoon. We don’t know what’s going on there.

Maybe the fisher is smart enough to take eggs instead of hens. Wouldn’t want to harm the golden goose chicken.

Time to set up the trail cam again, I guess.

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Written by johnwhays

August 16, 2019 at 6:00 am

Memorable Birthday

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Yesterday was Cyndie’s birthday, and she thinks she will remember it for the stormy weather we ventured out into to pick up our kids and join her parents for a nice restaurant dinner in downtown Minneapolis. Tavola was the destination, and man, was the food tasty. I ordered a side of brussel sprouts that were fabulous, if you like brussel sprouts.

The radar looked threatening and the radio warning reports were disturbing, but our drive and our home were spared the worst of the severe weather, despite how ominous it looked as we drove toward Hudson.

That weather front’s bark was worse than its sight. I’m not complaining.

We have no idea how wild conditions were at home while we were at dinner, nor how much the storm riled Delilah. She seemed cool and collected by the time we got home, a couple hours past my bedtime. <yawn>

The other thing Cyndie might remember about this birthday is the surprise egg that showed up in one of the nest boxes.

One of these things is not like the other. That small, shinier egg in the middle is not from one of our chickens.

Who’s been sleeping nesting in my bed nest box!?

There are frequently small bird visitors to the coop throughout the day. Apparently, one of them has been paying attention to the morning activity of the hens and decided to follow suit.

That egg’s not going to make a very large omelet.

 

UPDATE: 7:26 a.m. 6/5/19

Cyndie just informed me she learned it wasn’t some other bird intruding on the coop, based on new information. It is a “Fairy Egg.”

The learning never stops… It’s all new to me!

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Written by johnwhays

June 5, 2019 at 6:00 am

Egg Failure

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Someone in our chicken family isn’t feeling like her old self lately. We weren’t completely certain which one, so all of them will receive the benefit of some supplements in their diet.

There were some hints in the last couple of weeks when, twice, we found an egg with an incomplete shell in the nest boxes. At first, I wasn’t sure whether one of the hens had pecked the egg, or just laid one with an incomplete shell. Later, we found an egg that was complete, but it had a flat side.

It struck me that the egg that looked pecked was lacking the classic egg symmetry, too. That was enough to establish a trend. Unfortunately, it got worse before it got better.

Yesterday, Cyndie found that an egg failure didn’t even make it to the nest box. The poop board under the roost held evidence of an egg-saster.

Didn’t take long after that for Cyndie to make her way to Fleet Farm for an oyster shell calcium supplement. Will it be enough?

Last night, when Cyndie closed the chicken door on the coop, she found a wyandotte had chosen a nest box, instead of the roost. She had seen a wyandotte in the nest box other times this week, without getting an egg. We think this is the hen having a problem. She was making some unusual sounds.

We’ll keep an eye on her, as much as possible. Generally, we are inclined to let nature take its course, which ended well enough for our buff orpington earlier in the year. Hopefully, the extra calcium will prove helpful, and the wyandotte will ultimately have a good outcome, as well.

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Written by johnwhays

May 1, 2019 at 6:00 am

Lucky Eight

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It is such a treat to open the access door to the nest boxes in the afternoon and find fresh eggs. Our lucky eight surviving hens seem as happy as can be with the hints of spring that have flashed for brief moments between blasts of foul weather. Yesterday, they rewarded us for their good fortune by providing the maximum eight eggs.

The chickens are a far cry from having horses, but they are now the primary distraction filling the horse-energy void. The warm, sunny day yesterday had them actively scouring the grounds in a circuitous, wide-ranging meander.

I generally walk Delilah in a direction away from where the hens happen to be hanging out, but it gets harder to do when they are moving around to so many places, in so quick a span of time.

The dog and I made our way to the high spot by the driveway and messed around in some of the last remaining dirty snow.

She likes to rub the sides of her snout in the snow to scratch a nagging itch. The cold temperature is probably soothing, as well.

We are headed for a run of days with temperatures above freezing, so the rain moving in will likely finish off the dwindling patches of snow that have lingered. Hopefully, Delilah won’t switch to rubbing her face in the mud.

Cyndie is flying to Florida for a few days again this week, so it falls on me if Delilah needs extra grooming. My methods tend to involve avoidance of hazardous areas, to ward off the need for putting in any extra clean up effort.

Our walks yesterday were strictly confined to areas where mud was at a minimum, but that worked because there happened to be a few areas that weren’t soaking wet. That ends as soon as the rain arrives.

She may end up confined to the driveway pavement for the next few days.

At the same time, since it’s not supposed to be freezing overnights, I could always pull out the kiddie pool. Yet, I’m just a little hesitant about testing fate like that, because with my luck, that might trigger another spring snow storm.

You know, I think the chickens are actually easier to tend to than our dog.

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Written by johnwhays

April 17, 2019 at 6:00 am