Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘eggs

Backup Plan

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What have we done? Cyndie says she called me to ask if she should. I interpreted her call as informing me that she would. While in the vicinity of a known supply of new chicks, Cyndie stopped in to look and came away with twelve. Three each of four breeds, two we have experience with and two that are new to us.

Rhode Island Red, Barred Rock, Americana, & Black Brahma.

I was given about an hour to get the brooder set up and ready. No waiting for the Post Office to deliver, we were going to have twelve new chicks within a day!

The thing is, we still have twenty-two incubating eggs in our basement bathroom at the same time.

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A few days ago, we candled those eggs and saw little to inspire hope of success for our first ever attempt to hatch our own chicks. We heard about a new batch of chicks arriving at the Buffalo Country Store and began to think about the advantage of such simple access to already sexed pullets.

We figured it was just a passing thought though because Buffalo is such a long way away from where we live. Then, one of those messages from the universe popped up that seem hard to ignore. Cyndie discovered the location of a training session she would be co-leading placed her mere minutes away from Buffalo.

I didn’t immediately say she shouldn’t go through with the purchase, but it did feel like we were making a hasty decision. To allay my concerns, we agreed to move up our next check of the incubating eggs to update that situation. If there were few signs of progress, our backup plan of buying the chicks would seem less impetuous.

My concerns were not allayed. While the first two eggs we happened to check showed little visible difference from a few days earlier, about twenty others revealed successfully developing veins and other detectable features. Multiple times the dark spot of an eye could be seen. It appears we have a lot more viable eggs than we realized.

It’s quite possible we could end up needing a new backup plan to solve how we will house two different batches of chicks hatched several weeks apart.

I guess this is one way to deal with large losses to predator pressures. Increase supply until it outpaces demand?

If ever there was a time to heed the adage of not counting chickens before they hatch, we’ll deal with the next reality when it arrives. But the possibilities have us marveling over how much things can change in surprisingly short spans of time.

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Written by johnwhays

May 9, 2021 at 9:34 am

Another First

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It’s been a while since we tried something for the first time at Wintervale, so I guess we were due. Last night we started the 21-day incubation period toward hatching our own chicks. I never had this one on my list of things I wanted to try.

We have set our expectations low, but are striving to meet the specific parameters laid out [hee… laid] in the instructions as closely as possible to improve our odds. Since we weren’t planning ahead for this, some of the eggs spent time in refrigeration, which isn’t recommended.

If any of them hatch, we’ll have even more appreciation for what Rock contributed in his short time with us.

Candling to see if they are viable is scheduled to occur in seven days.

Yesterday, Cyndie gave the horses a new first by opening the gate to the front hayfield for them to explore. The four of them have already chomped the back pasture grass down so much we need to give it a rest.

Looking at how crazy-fast the lawn grass is growing around here during the latest series of rainy days, I expect regrowth in the back pasture shouldn’t take long. The first lawn mowing of the season is definitely imminent, pending the next dry, sunny day.

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Written by johnwhays

April 28, 2021 at 6:00 am

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