Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘free range eggs

Not Rare

with 2 comments

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!

.

.

Written by johnwhays

February 26, 2021 at 7:00 am

Forging Ahead

leave a comment »

The bite of persistent extreme cold weather continues to oppressively dominate life for us and our stoic chickens. There is little in the way of frivolous activity from the hens, beyond the brave layers who make extra trips between the nest boxes in the coop and the nook under the barn overhang where they have been spending the rest of the daylight hours.

Surprisingly, this cold snap does not appear to be stifling the continued development of the maturing hens into the egg-laying phase of their lives. Yesterday, we were gifted with six eggs, the most in one day so far from this brood. Unsurprisingly, not all of the eggs were found before freezing to the point of cracking.

Not all of the eggs were laid in one of the nest boxes, but at least four of the layers chose the same box.

As of yesterday, we hadn’t yet made the transition to using egg cartons when collecting eggs. When it is only one or two eggs, both Cyndie and I tend to slip them into pockets for the trip back up to the house. Once we start finding a half-dozen or more at one time, our stash of old egg cartons definitely comes into play.

As Cyndie multitasked yesterday to walk Delilah, collect the emptied trash and recycling bins, and collect eggs from the coop, she was suddenly met with —

SQUIRREL!!!

With Delilah’s leash quick-clipped to the handle of one of the bins and Cyndie’s grip on each of the two bins, eggs in her jacket pocket, our alerted canine unexpectedly bolted 90° sideways over the snow piled along the edge of the driveway.

The jolt on the leash yanked so powerfully it pulled both the bins and Cyndie into the bank of snow where she toppled over and unceremoniously landed headfirst in the snow, resulting in one broken egg in her pocket.

She made her way back to upright and got Delilah under control and forged ahead for the warmth of the house.

Today is even colder than yesterday and tomorrow is due to be colder than today.

We’ll just keep on keeping on, uncertain of what frigid adventure might result next.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

February 13, 2021 at 11:06 am

Too Late

leave a comment »

By the time I got home from work to check for eggs yesterday, I was too late to do anything for this perfect specimen:

Warm when it was laid, the egg melted its way down into the ice on the path between the coop and the barn. After it cooled, it became locked in the resulting ice that surrounded it.

One of the hens just isn’t getting the hang of this egg-laying thing. At least, we hope it’s just one. This is the fourth egg laid out in the middle of nowhere. Somebody isn’t yet reading the signals in her body that trigger the others to head back to the coop for the nest boxes.

Meanwhile, two others did make use of the nest boxes and it appears we may have another one of those 1-in-a-thousand double-yolk eggs based on the size of one of those eggs.

Never a dull moment in the early egg-laying phase of raising chickens, especially when it happens to coincide with the harsher months of winter.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

February 3, 2021 at 7:00 am

Another Stray

leave a comment »

We received a little more than a dusting of snow overnight, but not quite an inch. It’s annoying, actually, in a region where it’s not certain whether the paltry amount will melt or add to possible future accumulations. Does it deserve the effort of plowing? Should I clear the valley on the roof where ice dams often result?

There are more times than I like to admit when I have wished I had cleaned up a previous snow event that I originally chose to ignore.

Cyndie was pondering sweeping the fresh snow cover away near the barn for the benefit of our royal residents, the chickens. Heaven forbid they be forced to deal with the elements like feral chickens.

Based on their initial egg-laying performances, they are behaving more like wild birds than the domesticated coop-homed free-rangers they are. We are witnessing the successful initial use of the nest boxes in the coop at a rate of about 70%. The other times, eggs appear to show up in any and all locations where the brood happens to find themselves.

There was a single frozen egg discovered this morning next to the wall of the barn. Oops.

It’s hard to tell right now exactly which birds are laying among the thirteen. Based on the number of eggs in a day, likely 4 or maybe 5 are starting to produce. We are starting to get a routine of three eggs a day.

It’s a good thing our primary focus is not on gaining eggs, but on having happy, healthy chickens roaming our grounds. Eggs are just a wonderful added benefit that we try not to neglect.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

January 31, 2021 at 11:11 am

Early Production

leave a comment »

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.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

January 21, 2021 at 7:00 am

Clear Evidence

leave a comment »

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.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

November 10, 2020 at 7:00 am

Holding Out

leave a comment »

Turns out, our adult Golden Laced Wyandotte layer hen has been holding out on us. Yesterday, Cyndie’s mom, Marie, along with Sara and Althea, stopped by to see the new chicks on their way home from the lake place. While they were here, the group took a stroll to find the three adult hens free-ranging away on the property.

When they heard the Wyandotte cooing in a thicket of growth, closer inspection revealed she was sitting on a batch of seven eggs!

Why that little stinker.

When I got home and Cyndie shared some pictures of the scene with me, the thing that stood out more than the eggs was the appearance of poison ivy leaves around the spot.

That chicken really doesn’t seem to want us to take her eggs.

For that matter, I suddenly have very little interest in handling that hen! Her feathers are probably covered in poison ivy oils. I start to feel phantom itches all over just thinking about it, and I didn’t even touch any of the hens or eggs yesterday.

I touched a lot of cute little “henlets,” though.

Whose idea was it to allow our chickens to free-range around here, anyway? A fenced run off the coop would be a lot simpler than all the risks due to predators and the hens’ creativity with laying locations.

Speaking of predators, I believe there is now one less fox we need to worry about. Yesterday morning, just as I turned off our street on the way to work at the crack of dawn, I saw a roadkill fox in the oncoming lane.

I’m a little surprised no other marauders discovered the pile of eggs free for the taking from the ground in the last week. Maybe that bodes well for the chances of continued good luck for the last three surviving hens from our 2018 batch.

If it weren’t for the occasional random incursions of passing bands of coyotes, our regular number of free-ranging adults might increase from the usual three that we always end up with toward the end of their productive egg-laying years.

When we were in this same situation two years ago, with 3 adults and a new brood of twelve young-uns that we expected would need merging together, the adults all got taken by a fox over a series of a few days. Sad as that was, it saved us the hassle of introducing the different aged birds to each other.

This time, I may need to actually follow through on a plan to remodel the inside of the coop to add a barrier that will provide shared-but-segregated accommodations for some period of introduction.

We never run out of new things to learn around here. Particularly, how to outsmart a hen that decides she’s too good for the silly nest boxes in the coop for laying her precious eggs.

.

.

Alternative Location

with 2 comments

I mowed the paddocks on Sunday. Knowing the kids were coming mid-morning, I headed out to the shop garage to move equipment around for access to the brush mower and watch for their arrival. I didn’t see Elysa’s car drive past, but looked up and noticed it parked by the house all of a sudden. A second later, I looked up to find Julian’s Jeep parked there, too. How they both got past me without my seeing them drive by is a complete mystery.

So much for that plan.

After chasing Julian around on his Onewheel, I left him to do more practice laps and hopped on the tractor. Elysa opened gates for me and stood on the lookout for wandering chickens.

I didn’t realize that Cyndie had reported a headcount of only seven hens located and I sent Elysa off to can pickles after I’d made a few passes around the perimeter. It seemed to me that I would be able to spot chickens if they showed up.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

When I got closer to the middle of the paddock, the grass was so tall and thick that it was impossible to see what I was mowing over. I looked up after navigating a tight circle around one of the high spots and I caught sight of one Golden Laced Wyandotte slowly and calmly walking away from the grass toward the paddock fence.

Had she been hiding in the tall grass, just as I feared possible? I wasn’t entirely sure, but the thought was unsettling.

The paddocks looked pretty good when I was finished. After six years of successful close maneuvering, I finally broke my first fence board when I miscalculated while backing up to turn around. Curses!

Cyndie took Delilah for a walk through the newly mowed grass and the dog sniffed out where the Wyandotte had been.

It looked like my tractor tire rolled over about ten eggs in the hen’s alternative to our nest boxes.

We are hoping the loss of cover will help convince the vagabond bird to return her laying habit to the coop.

Is it possible to teach old hens new tricks?

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 27, 2019 at 6:00 am

Holy Leaves

with 2 comments

When I got home from work yesterday, I discovered a lot of leaves on the ground. Definitely more leaves than branches, although there was an unsurprising number of branches scattered about, too.

I’m guessing that the broad line of thunderstorms that rolled southeast across Minnesota in the middle of the day yesterday dropped some hail over our property. Nobody other than Pequenita and the chickens were here at the time, and they’re not talking.

Cyndie took Delilah up to the lake for a few days, so all I know about what happened here is based on evidence gathered in the aftermath.

The sky in Plymouth became impressively dark as the storm arrived there in the morning, but I didn’t witness any dramatic wind. I did spot two impressive cloud-to-ground lightning strikes. The rain was moderately heavy for a while, but never as epic as what the boss experienced in Bloomington, where he reported roads temporarily flooded over.

From the looks of our yard at home and the meager half-inch of water in our rain gauges, I think a little hail is about the worst we received.

A few of the leaves in the yard have holes in them, providing additional clues to the likelihood of hail.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Happily, I couldn’t find any other signs of damage. Skylights on the house, shingles on the roof, and the plastic corrugated roof panels on the chicken coop show no evidence of the assault.

I didn’t find any stray eggs laying out where they might get damaged, either. Found five in the nest boxes, from the eight birds, so the numbers still lend credence to the possibility one or more of the hens have decided there is a better place to lay than in the coop.

Hopefully, the birds had enough sense to seek shelter when hail started to fall. I didn’t notice any holy chickens, so I think they fared well enough.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 21, 2019 at 6:00 am

Lucky Eight

leave a comment »

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.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

April 17, 2019 at 6:00 am