Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Eggs

Last year we put quite a lot of money and time into building a chicken coop.  Knowing basically nothing about chickens we ventured out to a place we found on Craigslist and got ourselves some hens.  They were young but the guy who owned the place assured us they were all female and that they would be laying in a few weeks.

The summer waned and so did the daylight.  No eggs at all.  We figured they weren't getting enough light but didn't want to force them to lay by putting them on lights over the winter.  The fall was here and we were determined to get a few eggs for breakfast before winter.  I went to another place and bought 3 hens that I was told were already, currently, laying eggs.  Nothing.  One morning I woke up to a "Cock-a-doodle-do!"  Turns out one of our "hens" was a rooster.  In the end it turned out four of them were roosters.  A few succumbed to some strange changes in weather over the winter and what I thought must have been a respiratory ailment.

The lack of eggs was seriously upsetting to my omelet-loving husband, so he was tearing his hair out when a friend of our's chickens started laying in the dead of winter, no lights, nothing.  He made a half hearted attempt at putting a leftover bit of rope lighting in the hen house, but I don't think it was bright enough.  Kind of made the coop festive looking though!  One night we ordered in Chinese food and my husband, who had just been bemoaning the lack of eggs, opened his fortune cookie to read "A hen today is better than an egg tomorrow."  I hung his mis-fortune on the fridge.

Finally spring arrived.  Friday morning I was going about my outdoor chores.  I cleaned the rabbit cages, and fed, watered and exercised our three netherland dwarf rabbits.  I brought out some lettuce and green waste to scatter in the chicken run and let the chickens graze in the yard a bit while the dogs were kenneled.  I assessed the vegetable garden and what I needed to get started fixing up our soil so my seedlings can be transplanted.  Finally, I put the chickens back in the coop, turned and started towards the house.  But something stopped me and I thought, what the heck, I'll take a peek in the nest box and maybe today will be the day.  At the very least I can make sure they have fresh bedding.  I opened the lid and my heart stopped.  There was a huge, brown egg.  It was perfect.  I ran into the house for my camera and yelled to the kids that we had an egg!  We all marveled at the perfect egg laying on the straw and took about a hundred photos.  I immediately posted our announcement on Facebook and emailed my husband.  It was a monumental day for us, we were not failures at keeping chickens after all!

I was completely in love with my chickens again!  The next morning I practically ran to the coop, took a deep breath, lifted the lid of the nesting box, YES, another egg!  Now I was feeling more confident.

I sold the last rooster and went out to get a few more young, but laying, hens.  Having had this experience and being disappointed before I was crossing my fingers that firstly, these actually were hens and not roosters, and secondly, that they actually were laying.  Once they were all happily introduced into their new home I left them overnight.  This morning I fed and watered them and took the kids to a friend's house for Easter lunch.

Upon returning from lunch I discovered, not one, but FIVE beautiful eggs in the nest box.  WOW.  In three days we went from no eggs to seven eggs!  Now we're talking!  We now have the following chicken breeds in our coop: 1 black sex-link (so called because unlike most chicks these can be sexed at birth), 2 black Australorps, 2 Barred Rocks, and one Silver Laced Wyandotte (pictured).  The Wyandotte is one of the neatest looking hens I have ever seen, and will be real fun to take photos of in the yard!   The Wyandotte is an American heritage breed of chicken so I'm also feeling pretty dang patriotic as well!  Can you tell she's my favorite?  I still want to raise Ameracaunas someday (when we own our dream farm) and sell blue eggs, but I'm thinking we should also raise Silver Laced Wyandottes.  Both of those breeds are so interesting to look at and are good layers.  I think we could easily sell them and get people excited about having backyard chickens!

I don't know why more people don't own chickens actually, I mean I love my dogs but they don't make me breakfast!

1 comment:

Sharon said...

that is awesome since we were just talking about it at lunch and you went home to find a bunch:) now what are you going to make?!