Category Archives: Chickens

Adding To The Flock

This year I’ve decided to raise some chicks into egg layers. I let three hens hatch last year and out of nine hatched (30 set) we got five hens and four roosters. This is not a good plan!

I went to Rural King with hubby last week and picked up six Barred Rock chicks (hopefully hens) and six Black Sex Link chicks (also hopefully hens). I have them in a tote in our family room for the moment and they’re growing like weeds!

The day we brought them home I placed them in their first home which is the largest tote I had. I scrubbed the tote, placed newspaper in the bottom (easier to clean), and filled their one quart feeder and water bottle. As I placed each chick in the tote I held their beaks in the water for their first drink and boy were they thirsty!!!

Here it is a week later and they’ve been introduced to a new feed trough.  The little buggers were scratching the feed out of those feeder holes and wasting more than they ate.  The feeder below doesn’t allow that as much and the quart water bottle was replaced with a half-gallon jar so they don’t run out of water during the night.

New feeder holds the same amount of feed but the holes are smaller so they can’t dig the food out into the floor.  I feed them medicated feed to begin their life to boost their immune system.  I lost one chick the second night and not sure why but the others seem to be doing quite well.

A half-gallon glass jar is heavier and the water will last through the night. The old one had to be refilled and clean three times a day.

They have almost doubled their size from last week and they can actually fly up to the top of the water bottle.  I will upgrade to a taller tote over the weekend instead of putting them in the brooder box because of the cold temps and their size.

This hutch is being used for my rabbit does. I have taken Marigold from her side of the hutch and placed her somewhere else (post to come later) and put this chicks in her side of the hutch.

The interior of the hutch is divided into two sections. Cleome is in the other section. Both sections have a light fixture in the top for using heat bulbs. I will have to enclose the bottom of the cage to keep the chicks warmer but have access for cleaning underneath. All of my animals are taken care of in all aspects of their growth and life.

The interior will be cleaned/scrubbed in the next few days and before Cleome has her litter later this month. I’m expecting the chicks will be moved into the hutch by the second week of April if not sooner, depending on the weather.

When these chicks are 6-8 weeks old, I plan to start another clutch of them so that next winter we won’t have a few weeks without eggs.  These chicks should start laying at 6-7 months of age and lay for 190-220 days before they molt and take a egg-laying-break for a month or so.

Love my chickens!!!

The brownish-red hens with white tail feathers are my babies from last year. Great brown egg layers!

You just can’t beat fresh farm eggs that come from free range chickens!

 

Preparing for Spring

We’ve had some glorious three weeks of spring-like weather and now the cold and wind is back!!

Crocus are blooming and the jonquils and daffodils are up.

Crocus are blooming and the jonquils and daffodils are up.

Along with building a new cattle holding pen, hubby and I have been cleaning up around the farm while waiting on our lumber.   We had lots of trees come down during the fall and winter and we’ve been cutting them up for firewood and piling the brush to be burnt (if the wind ever quits blowing).  Hubby plowed the garden this week so if we had any cold weather (which we are experiencing now) the freeze and thaw would be great for the disking when we get ready to start the garden.

Starting to plow the garden.

Starting to plow the garden.

Dark rich soil for a promising 2017 garden crop.

Dark rich soil for a promising 2017 garden crop.

While he was plowing I started cleaning up the yard.  We have beautiful maple trees on three corners of the yard which provide us maple syrup in the spring and wonderous shade in the summer but in the fall and winter they shed their beautiful coats into our yard.  It takes lots of time and strong arms to rake it all up and pile on the compost pile.

Before the cleanup my yard and flower/rose beds are covered with leaves which protect them from the freezing cold.

Before the cleanup my yard and flower/rose beds are covered with leaves which protect them from the freezing cold.

 

 

 

After the cleanup, the yard starts looking like this before the  grass greens, the roses sprout leaves and the perennials show their pretty faces:

In front of the front porch after cleanup

In front of the front porch after cleanup

East backyard after cleanup

East backyard after cleanup

Front yard after cleanup

Front yard after cleanup

 

 

 

 

 

Now, all I have to do is the rose garden and the new perennial bed we made last spring.

We just have to wait for another warmup which we hope is on the way next week.  We’re also hoping that the warmup we had and this freezing weather doesn’t have any adverse effect on the honeybees because they sure were working hard to find food last week.

Spring means new life on the farm and we’re expecting 20+ cows to start calving in the next two weeks.  My hens have picked up on their production and I’m getting a dozen eggs a day now.

You just can't beat fresh farm eggs that come from free range chickens!

You just can’t beat fresh farm eggs that come from free range chickens!

The brownish-red hens with white tail feathers are my babies from last year.  Great brown egg layers!

The brownish-red hens with white tail feathers are my babies from last year. Great brown egg layers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My rabbit does were bred this week and we should have kits around the 30th of March.  They’re all lops and last years babes were a huge assortment of colors.  I think the first batches this spring will go to new homes and the second mating will be meat rabbits.

Marigold visits Sebastian.

Marigold visits Sebastian.

Sebastian was glad to see his ladies.

Sebastian was glad to see his ladies.

 

 

 

 

 

Cleome waiting her turn.

Cleome waiting her turn.

Baby chicks and ducks will probably join us in April and our next big project is to get rid of the old chicken house which is in bad need of repair.

Chicken house is ancient and chickens should love their new abode which is a cinder block building that way back in the day was a hog house.

Chicken house is ancient and chickens should love their new abode which is a cinder block building that way back in the day was a hog house.

The hog house is bigger, has electricity and will be warmer for the chickens. We have lots of cleanup to do to the outside because the wild blackberries are surrounding it.  There's a no-freeze water spigot beside it and there's storage for feed on the inside.

The hog house is bigger, has electricity and will be warmer for the chickens. We have lots of cleanup to do to the outside because the wild blackberries are surrounding it. There’s a no-freeze water spigot beside it and there’s storage for feed on the inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Varmints on the Farm

GRAPHIC NATURE!!  I went to gather the eggs yesterday afternoon and found one of my last year ISA Brown hens behind the feed barrel dead.  Her head was missing and something had eaten all of the meat from her neck.

The brownish-red hens with white tail feathers are my babies from last year.  Great brown egg layers!

The brownish-red hens with white tail feathers are my babies from last year. Great brown egg layers!

We are having a spring full of varmints.  Hubby has set live traps and caught several huge opossums, three or four skunks and a bunch of feral cats.  We don’t have any cats and we think someone is dropping them on our road because they’re everywhere!  At night he has seen red foxes and a pair of gray foxes circling the pond.  We have a bald eagle, golden eagle and a numerous bunch of red-tail and chicken hawks.  I saw a young bobcat my last week of hunting season!  We are surrounded by the varmints and my egg production suffers from it!!!  I have two young roosters that warn of danger flying overhead but I think they’re too busy being the men of the henhouse to keep close watch on the ground danger!

Egg production has gained strength with the longer and warmer days and I’m getting 10-12 eggs per day out of 24 (23 now) hens.  The “eggs for sale” sign is back out at the end of the driveway and neighbors are starting to come looking for fresh, large eggs of many colors.

You just can't beat fresh farm eggs that come from free range chickens!

You just can’t beat fresh farm eggs that come from free range chickens!

 

Culling Chickens

Our chicken population exploded over the summer with chicks I hatched, chickens given to us by friends that decided they shouldn’t have them and chicks my hens hatched.  My last total was 52 which included three roosters and the hen-house had to be cleaned out weekly instead of monthly because of the ammonia smell.  I had about 20 hens that have quit laying eggs but stayed in the hen-house all day on the roost.

This is a 2013 photo but I have some chickens that are over seven years old.

This is a 2013 photo but I have some chickens that are over seven years old.

Last week we chose a new location for a chicken house that won’t be too expensive to remodel and we’ll burn down the old chicken house once the chickens are moved.  This is the new location:

Tractor shed attached to smokehouse.

Tractor shed attached to smokehouse.

Future home of new chicken house

Future home of new chicken house

This building is not any closer to the house but I won’t have to climb an icy hill now in the winter time.  I had one too many falls on the ice last winter.  The tractor will be moved to the stable which has been cleaned out and has more room for equipment now and most of the equipment will be stored in the same location instead of all over the farm.  This is a large building and the back 1/3 will be blocked off for a storage room for feed, garden tools and maybe our tillers.  The garden is on the back side of this building. More about this later.

To prepare for this move I have culled 18 of my old hens and gave them to a family in the county that can use the hens for meat or for “setting hens” in the spring.  My bantam rooster Barney went with this group because I don’t especially want small eggs and I’m trying to bring in hens that will lay larger eggs.  I lost a few chickens to hawks and old age during the early fall.

Barney is a bantam cross rooster and very small but thinks he's a giant!

Barney is a bantam cross rooster and very small but thinks he’s a giant!

Since I have three hens that like to go broody in the spring this should provide me with some new hens next summer that lay large brown eggs.  I really like my Red River roosters  and Red River’s produce the eggs we want.

This is one of my Red River roosters named Fred.  Fred had some red and brown mottled through his feathers.

This is one of my Red River roosters named Fred. Fred had some red and brown mottled through his feathers.

My Red River rooster named "Rooster".  He is white with just a hint of yellow through his feathers.

My Red River rooster named “Rooster”. He is white with just a hint of yellow through his feathers.

With my new hens and some of my older large hens I should have lots of brown, pink, green and blue eggs to sale next summer.

Fresh eggs (1)

The hens have all got their feathers back from molting just in time for the cold weather and some have started laying again.  I’m now getting 8-10 eggs instead of the 20-30 and my buyers are screaming for eggs.  The molting and colder weather will keep production down because I don’t keep lights in the hen-house and most of my hens are cold hardy including the Americaunas.

The red with white tell feathers are the new hens and they're laying now.

The red with white tail feathers are the new hens and they’re laying now.  They started laying at six months and these are my youngest hens.

We now have 31 total and that’s a plenty for what we need.  I just need to cull more often to keep good egg production.  This woman tends to get attached to all the animals on the farm no matter their age or productivity.

 

Roosters

I just went to feed the chickens and collect the eggs and laughed until I cried watching my crazy roosters.  Barney is the oldest but smallest of my rooster flock and each morning when we open the hen-house, he flies up on the brooder box outside of the henhouse and crows to prove he is master of the flock.  We’re not sure what breed he is but he runs off the other two roosters as soon as he’s out of the hen-house.

Bantam Barney was given to us by a friend along with about 15 hens.Bantam Barney was given to us by a friend along with about 15 hens.

This is "Rooster" and raised this summer.

This is “Rooster” and raised this summer.

This is Fred and also raised this summer.  Fred has a little more color in his feathers.

This is Fred and raised this summer. Fred has a little more color in his feathers.

Rooster and Fred were purchased and raised from chicks in the spring and their breed is new and called Red Rivers.  They’re really big chickens and I’m hoping to have some new chicks brooded from them in the spring.

Barney is half the size of the new roosters.

Barney is half the size of the new roosters.

Barney proves on a daily basis that he is king of the flock which includes about 47 hens.

Barney proves on a daily basis that he is king of the flock which includes about 47 hens.

Time for New Stock

I had about 30 chickens over the winter and most of the thirty are only laying eggs a couple times a week if that often. I have at least three or four that don’t lay eggs at all now. I know I should cull and do something with them but I’ve had them for AT LEAST six years if not longer and have gotten attached to them. I don’t get all weepy if one dies of old age or gets snatched up by a fox or hawk but I just can’t seem to let them go into a pot!! Hubby says they’re too old to eat but I think maybe he thinks we just don’t have the strength to chew that long! 😉

Old girls are the pick of the crop!!

Old girls are the pick of the crop!!

Anyway, a neighbor gave us around 12-15 young hens a few months back and my pullets raised from old hens last summer are now laying. We’re getting 24-31 eggs a day.

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New chooks from Tucker (3)

BUT, I don’t want to go through another winter without fresh eggs again. Store bought eggs just don’t have any “umph”!! In April I took little brother to Tractor Supply and we both fell in love with the tiny fluffs of yellow fuzz and I bought home 12 of them.

DSCN6562 DSCN6563 DSCN6561Now, they’re half grown pullets and I wanted to get at least 12-15 more to grow up with the ones I have. Hubby built me a wonderful brooder box that holds 12-15 quite nicely and then built a run on stilts for the month old chicks.

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He did such a wonderful job and after the babes are out running the farm with the old girls, we can raise some nice rabbits in that run. I love fresh rabbit!! Just don’t tell my future daughter in law!!!!

He made a brooder box as well which we’ve stored away and it’ll be used each year as well.

Brooder box holds 12-15 chicks until they're about 6-8 weeks old.  Then they're moved to  the big crate on stilts.

Brooder box holds 12-15 chicks until they’re about 6-8 weeks old. Then they’re moved to the big crate on stilts.

Here’s the little balls of yellow fluff almost fully grown.  All I have to do is do our chicken song and they come running.  We only have eight left, two roosters and six hens.  Three of the twelve were Cornish Game Hens and they’re in the freezer and last week I lost one of my little hens.

Three little hens.

Three little hens.

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These little ladies should start laying big brown eggs in late October or early November.

My chicks from last year turned out to be most Americauna and lay beautiful green and blue eggs and we get 9-12 of their eggs a day.

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More baby chicks

I sure have lots of broody hens this year.  We just had another small hatch and I’m convinced “Elvis” is not spreading the love around and it’s time to add another rooster to the flock or two.  This hen was set with 11 eggs (not all hers) and she started hatching on Sunday and finished yesterday with only four little chicks.

Due to hatch on June 8th.  Set with 11 eggs.

Due to hatch on June 8th. Set with 11 eggs.

Yellow chick will be white when full grown.

Yellow chick peeping out from under mom will be white when full grown.

Four little ones make it out of the shells.

Four little ones make it out of the shells.

Yellow, black, dark brown, cream.  Truly Easter chicks!

Yellow, black, dark brown, cream. Truly Easter chicks!

 

This red hen is due to hatch on the 26th.

Little red hen; she's really not so little and lays beautiful brown eggs.

Little red hen; she’s really not so little and lays beautiful brown eggs.

These two ladies are wanting to set as well and I have to lift them off eggs that other hens are laying every day.  Wish I could find some good fertile eggs!!

White speckled hen

White speckled hen

Americana hen

Americana hen

I have noticed that none of my green eggs are hatching so it will be interesting to see what kind of egg layers these turn out to be.  I’ve set almost forty eggs this spring and only have eight chicks make it though 10 hatched.  I’m hoping red hen will do better!  Updates later.

Hens and chicks and chicks and hens

My egg crop is dwindling these days because someone or should I say several of my ladies have decided to be “mommies” too!!  This lady hatched two little ones about two weeks ago.

Black Americana cross with two little chicks.

Black Americana cross with two little chicks.

Then this lady fought me tooth and nail everyday when I tried to stop her broody situation and alas, she won out!  She’ll hatch next Monday if all goes well.

My white hen-broodiest of them all!

My white hen-broodiest of them all!

Ten days later little red hen got real grouchy and tried to peck me every time I caught her on the nest.  I decided there was room enough for a few more chicks in the hen-house so I set her too.

Little red hen; she's really not so little and lays beautiful brown eggs.

Little red hen; she’s really not so little and lays beautiful brown eggs.

Elvis

Elvis

Daddy to all!

Daddy to all!

This may be his last year with the harem if we don’t get better hatches than the previous two were.  Two out of nine eggs hatching is not great odds. He dpes have his own special ladies but you’d think he could spread the love around.   Plus, there’s no eggs coming from these ladies while they’re setting and raising their young.   We’ll see how things go and give progress reports as the summer rolls on.  Now I have to figure out how to stop two more hens that have decided they like this kind of life as well!!

Bitties are growing

Our first chicks of the year are growing fast and their fuzz has turned to pin feathers.  Of the three, two are alive and well.  The little white one got under the grit pan when mom was scratching in the floor material and then he couldn’t get out.  By the time I found her she was gone.  😦   The other two are growing fast and forage all over the farm just like Mom.DSCN5117

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Crow and her month old bitties.

Crow and her month old bitties.

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Free ranging with mom.

Free ranging with mom.

 

In about 10 more days, we’ll have another hatch by this lady.

Black Americana hen that was born last year.  She has 10 eggs under her and we're hoping for a larger hatch than Crow had.

Black Americana hen that was born last year. She has 10 eggs under her and we’re hoping for a larger hatch than Crow had.

Updates later and watching for the next broody mother.

First broody hen of 2014

This is “Crow”.  She is a bantam which means she about half the size of a normal farm hen.  She came to live with me about two years ago after her old family had to move and couldn’t take their chickens with them.  I inherited her and seven or eight more chickens.  Her eggs are about 1/2 the size of a normal chicken but she is a good layer.

CROW-my only bantam hen.  Most bantams are broody and Crow tops the list.

CROW-my only bantam hen. Most bantams are broody and Crow tops the list.

 

Crow has beautiful feathers of black and blue-black that glisten when the sun hits her.

Crow has beautiful feathers of black and blue-black that glisten when the sun hits her.

 

Crow usually gets broody for me about three times a year. Because she is so small, I can only set six to seven regular eggs under her at a time. She is an excellent mother and very, very protective of her new babies.  Generally, fertile chicken eggs which are hatched out by a hen will take 21 days before you see little faces staring at you from underneath their mamma’s wings.  She is the main producer of my replacement hens using the large brown eggs or the blue/green eggs depending on what I have when she decides to “set”.

This is Crow with her first 2013 clutch of bitties!

This is Crow with her first 2013 spring clutch of bitties!  Later in the summer of 2013 she hatched seven more.

The babies she hatched in 2013 are now producing beautiful brown, blue and green eggs for our breakfast and for several of my friends and egg customers.
I set her with seven eggs on March 30th, 2014 and on April 21st I went to check on her after I got home from work and she was all fluffed up and “growling” at me.  I didn’t want to upset her so I didn’t know how many had hatched but knew from her demeanor that she wasn’t completely done.  I walked away anxiously waiting for my first view of our new chicks.  I’ll see them when Crow is ready for me to see them.

Now we have three little balls of fluff.

Their coloring is beautiful!

Their coloring is beautiful!

They're about the size of a golf ball.

They’re about the size of a golf ball.

light brown, caramel, and black/brown coloring.

light brown, caramel, and black/brown coloring.

I won’t be able to tell what their sex is until they’re about three to five weeks old but I was  hoping for at least six hens out of the bunch but I take what I can get.  I have no doubt at all that by mid-June she will “set” again.
More updates as the summer comes to Virginia!!

My ladies are worth their weight in gold

Blue, green, pink, beige, light brown, dark brown, creme, winter white.

Blue, green, pink, beige, light brown, dark brown, creme, winter white.

18 in one day but maybe only 10 the next day.

18 in one day but maybe only 10 the next day.

Beautiful eggs of all sizes and colors.

Beautiful eggs of all sizes and colors.

17 eggs today

17 eggs today

A whole bucket full.

A whole bucket full.

 

I don’t think any words would explain myself any better than these photos!

The 2013 Chicks are Growing

My chicken yard is growing in leaps and bounds this year.  I lost two old hens and decided to let the broody hens have their way.  The first lady to hatch is a bantam and I took her eggs away from her and replaced them with eggs from my larger hens.  I only put six eggs under her because she was so small and she hatched four of the six.

Miss Black Hen and her little ones

Miss Black Hen and her little ones

 

These little guys grew up fast and there was one hen and three roosters.  I don’t like this ratio!!  Notice the tall combs on the gray and the back red one.  My little hen is on the right of this group.DSCN4186
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The teens are now three months old and pretty much stay to themselves.  They’re usually the first out of the henhouse each morning and the last to go in.    I just wish they were all hens.

On the other hand, my little guys that are three weeks old, are also growing like weeds and the majority of them are hens.  There’s thirteen living out of eighteen and they are ferocious eaters when they free range with mom.  Look at the difference in three weeks.

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One day old chicks sticking close to Mom.IMG_0003

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From little bitties to these youngsters.

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The little girls like to stay close to Mom at night and they gather under and around her in the nesting boxes.

The little girls like to stay close to Mom at night and they gather under and around her in the nesting boxes.

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Mom, it's time to go out!!

This Mom has eight and the other one has five. 

 

These little ladies should begin laying just about the time that my older hens shut down production during the winter.   Don’t you just love the different colors??

On another subject, I experimented with a the eggs I set with the last two hens.  I read a post on the National Poultry Blog that if you want to produce hens instead of roosters, you should make sure the eggs you set are more oval and not pointed.  From what I can tell now, it really works.  I don’t think I have but one or two roosters from the thirteen new babies.  That’s what’s called a great “ratio”!!  We’ll test it again next spring when my broody hens start up again.

Three broody hens

This weekend I have new babies.  Three of the four hens I had setting have hatched or are hatching.  The first one I set with ten eggs revealed to me this morning eight multi-colored babies that are adorable.

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The second hen revealed one last night but Mom won’t move off of them this morning so I can get pictures of them.  She had seven eggs under her and I can’t wait to see how many hatch.  Here she is being very protective.  I’m sure she hasn’t moved off of them because more are trying to hatch.  Hens usually don’t come off the brooding nest until the last one that’s going to hatch comes out of the shell.

2nd hen hatching

2nd hen hatching

 

The third hen has 14 eggs under her and I did find one hatched egg shell in front of her this morning but I don’t expect to see the babies until probably tomorrow.

I know one is hatched because I can see the broken shell right in front of her.

I know one is hatched because I can see the broken shell right in front of her.

More updates and pictures will be revealed in the coming days.  Aren’t they adorable!!

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These are their amorous and proud daddie, Elvis and Romeo!!

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Elvis

 

Romeo

Romeo

 

Back in a few days with updates!! 😉

 

 

 

Four broody hens sitting

Our egg count is down to 12-15 per day as of late.  I have four hens sitting and should have a new flock started by the weekend.  Here are three of them and they’re due to hatch somewhere between Wednesday and Saturday. All total they have 31 eggs under them and I set another one last Sunday that eight eggs under her.  I’ll update as they hatch.

Hen #1

Hen #1

Hen #2

Hen #2

 

Broody hen #3

Broody hen #3

This one is number four and she will hatch two weeks later.

Broody hen #4

Broody hen #4

When I went to shut them up last night I found another one which will make five and I haven’t decided what to do with her.

DSCN4019Looks like another post on these ladies soon.  Wish me luck with the new biddies this weekend!

Easy as pie egg-blowing but not for children!!!

DSCN2827Over the last three years, I’ve found all sizes of eggs that the hens have left for me but the little guys in the photo above are real treasures.  I use them throughout the house as decorations.  I use them in my antique egg crate in the kitchen.

Antique egg crate & chickens

Antique egg crate & chickens

I use them in bird nests for decorations and wreaths.  The best part is I found a very easy way to get the whites and, if any, yolks out of the eggs so they won’t rot and become a nasty odor for the room they’re in.  I used to take a large sewing needle and gently drill a hole in the both ends of the egg and blow it out but that took time and a lot more breath than I have nowadays.  You will want to use the following method when there are no children around just to be on the safe side and you’ll understand what I’m talking about once you see the tool I use.

DSCN2831We keep these syringes on hand for giving the animals they’re worm shots and other vaccines when needed.  The tips of those needles are very, very sharp.

DSCN2832The needle point should be small and I can’t remember the gauge we use but if you ask at your local farm store, ask for the gauge to use on small animals such as cats and dogs.

First step is to make sure your eggs are clean and NOT old.  The syringe comes in three parts: needle, syringe base and plunger.  Next push the plunger as far in the base as possible (after you put the needle in the base).  Gentle holding the egg and careful how you place the needle, gently push the needle into the large end of the egg (you will be surprised how easily it goes in the shell, no drilling).  Hold the egg in one hand, positioning  the egg over the hand holding the needle.  I apologize for not having a photo to explain but it’s hard to take a picture and do this at the same time.  Try to picture your fists folded and one fist on top and one fist on the bottom (make sense?).

The next step is to keep the needle in the egg and gently pull the plunger out to the end of the base.  You’ll see the clear white of the egg pull into the syringe. Pull the entire syringe out of the egg and push the plunger back into the base pushing the egg white into a dish or some kind of container.  I usually do this over the kitchen sink and let the running water wash it down the drain.  Do this whole procedure again until you feel you have gotten the white entirely out of the egg.

After emptying the last bit out of the syringe, fill the syringe with water (it’ll suck out of a glass of water w/a touch of dish detergent or bleach really easy).  Put the syringe back in the egg  and fill it with the water (gently) and pull it out and emptying the sink again.  I usually do this four or five times just to make sure it’s clean and make sure you entirely get all the water solution out of the egg.  Repeat the cleaning as many times as you feel it takes to clean the egg.  Set your little egg up to air dry for several days and where it won’t get knocked off and broken.  I store them in an egg carton until I’m ready to use them in my decorations.   This is so much easier but you just have to be careful using the needle.

These are some of the eggs I’ve used with this tool:

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An odd thing happened at the henhouse . . .

I’m so proud of my multi-color, multi-breed flock of chickens.  Some are over seven years old but I just can’t bear to get rid of them and I have several hens that are good brooders and give me fresh stock each year.  This helps keeps eggs coming year round.  I don’t do anything special for them and they are free range chickens.  I do make sure they have plenty of grain year round and lots of water.  I make sure they get at least one gallon of vinegar water a week to keep them clean internally.  For about a month now I’ve been getting between 14 and 22 eggs a day out of 27 chickens, two of which are roosters.

Miss Black Hen

This is my oldest hen Ms. Black and she greets me at the door every afternoon, purring and singing and waiting for a handful of grain.  I just can’t bear getting rid of her!!

Elvis and some of the girlsThis is Elvis and a few of the girls heading to the roost.  He’s such a gorgeous rooster and is constantly foraging and finding fresh worms and bugs for the ladies.

Yesterday afternoon when I took them fresh water and gathered the eggs I found this strange phenomenon:

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                         This not a normal egg gatherind day and the egg at the bottom of the picture is a normal large egg.

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This is a normal size egg.

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This is a very small egg & I’ll blog later the wonderful decorating idea I use them for.  Normally, this small, there will be no yolk, no joke 😉

DSCN3522This beauty is an enormous double yolker and I feel so sorry for the hen that laid it.

 

Little fluffs of down

Almost four weeks ago I had a little black hen get broody on me and she kept filling up nests with her body when I needed hens that were laying eggs in them.  She is a bantam cross that was given to me by a couple that had to move to the city.  She’s a good layer but of small eggs.  I decided to “set” her on six eggs of my choice and size.  I only felt comfortable putting six eggs under her because of her size and the size of the eggs I wanted hatched.  I had no trouble putting her in the “setting room” of the main hen house and she diligently stayed on the nest.

Last Saturday she gave me four new little fluffs of down and she is a very fiesty mother. One egg wasn’t fertile of the six I put under her and the other little one just couldn’t get out of the shell quick enough.  I will leave them in the “setting room” until this next round of cold rain moves through and then let Mom take them into the big girls quarters.  I hope they’re all litle hens and no roosters in the bunch!!

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Hens & Rooster

I think everyone knows I work full time and want so much to be home on the farm full time.  I know my time will come soon and in the meantime I cherish every minute I can get outside.  Since I’ve had the “crud” (what hubby calls congestion), I haven’t been able to go out for fear of getting pneumonia which I’m prone to.  BUT, one afternoon this week I went to the henhouse to talk to the girls and see how everything was going.

Hubby has been taking care of them for me and making sure they have plenty of feed and water and gathering the eggs. He is so good too me!!   Man was I shockedwhen I walked into the henhouse!!  Their roost needs a major cleaning underneath and  someone has been sleeping in the nests at night.  I know now why the eggs needed extra care at cleaning each evening before going in the cartons.

Hens greeting me as I enter the henhouse.

Hens greeting me as I enter the henhouse.

I’m so hoping this weekend proves to be a little warmer and sunny so I can get out for an hour or so.  I have a door under the roost on the back of the henhouse for cleaning and it doesn’t take long to clean it out.  My walnut and pecan trees will get some good fertilizer from that as well as the rhubarb patch.  The nesting material will have to come out and be replaced and I’ll have to time it just right so as not to interrupt any laying that may occur.

Elvis fussing at me for disturbing his time with the girls.

Elvis fussing at me for disturbing his time with the girls.

Nesting boxes that need a good cleaning.

Nesting boxes that need a good cleaning.

My girls have been doing quite well the last two weeks and I’m getting 12-16 eggs a day.  The neighbors are real happy the “Fresh Eggs for Sale” sign is back up and hubby is tickled he’s getting fresh pound cakes again.

Fresh eggs straight from the henhouse but they need cleaning.

Fresh eggs straight from the henhouse but they need cleaning.

      I love my weekends on the farm!!

Finally six months later

Remember back in late June when I had nine of twelve baby chicks hatch from green eggs??

Summer hatch -nine out of twelve and they're adorable.They're hatched from green eggs.

Summer hatch -nine out of twelve and they’re adorable.They’re hatched from green eggs.

Well, I just got back from the henhouse and I am thrilled.  Finally after six months, the little pips have grown into full grown hens and I got my first green egg from one of them.  I can only hope that the other five of the hens will start laying too.  I kept two of their brothers and one brother went in the freezer.  I was really beginning to think there were not going to produce.  Here’s what I got from the nests a few minutes ago.

green, white, brown, pink, we have them all!

green, white, brown, pink, we have them all!

It’s somewhat smaller than the rest but that’s normal for the first few eggs.  They will be larger as time goes on.  I’m one happy farmer today!!  I hope she was as happy as I am.  🙂