all of the other girls from our new flock of backyard chickens have been laying for weeks, but no blue eggs from the ameraucanas. we were beginning to think they might be roosters ( though they were lacking other very obvious rooster traits ) or they were doing a good job of hiding or eating their eggs.
but, whoohoo, today we had a surprise in the nesting box!
they don’t taste different but for some reason having blue eggs in the fridge adds a little more fun to the cooking routine.
it’s been a fun week of collecting eggs from The Girls. whichever one of them started laying has learned to lay in the nesting box instead of randomly around the coop and odin has been super excited to get up in the morning & grab fresh (& warm) eggs from the boxes.
so far we’ve been getting an egg a day from the eight birds which for some reason made me think that only one of the girls has been laying, but it’s hard to know for sure since all the eggs are brown. there’s less and less daylight every day which lowers production, so for all we know three or four of The Girls could be laying every few days instead of one hen laying every day.
today was extra exciting because we found not one but three eggs! so, more than one of The Girls has started laying. and we know for certain the source of one the eggs since it was a pretty pastel blue-green color.
a colored egg can only mean our ameraucana has started leaving us little tasty treasures.
so fun to watch odin grab the eggs, without forgetting to say “thanks!”, and race back up to the house to excitedly show his mother the latest gifts from The Girls.
when i asked whether i should light the chicken coop to maintain egg production in the winter, i received quite a range of answers. some folks said they didn’t get any eggs in the winter without supplemental lighting, others said their birds kept laying at about 30% of their summer production and still others said their birds kept laying at 70% of summer production without light. i should add that several folks responded that i shouldn’t light the coop in the winter since there is no reason to “burn out” backyard birds since we’re obviously doing this for love and not money.
i certainly have no interest in burning out the birds and even though i’m guessing that we’ll still get enough production in the winter to yield a few dozen eggs a week without supplemental lighting, i decided to run dedicated electrical to the coop for a variety of reasons. regarding supplemental lighting, i think we’ll turn on a light in the morning for a few hours, not so much to drive production as to try and get them all to lay before we leave for work in the morning so we can collect eggs before they freeze ( supposedly most of The Girls will lay within a few hours of “daybreak” ). and even if we weren’t turning a light on, we’ll still want electric service to power a warmer to keep their water from freezing and for running a heat lamp on the coldest days of winter. and, of course, it will always be nice to be able to turn on a light when i’m shoveling out a path to the coop in the dark after the inevitable snowstorms that will come this winter.
in keeping with their new interest in me and my activities since The Dude Who Looked Like A Lady left, The Girls were more than happy to inspect my work and cluck approvingly from the compost bin while i dug the trench for the electrical line.
now that they have electrical service and a strong wifi signal from the house, i wonder if i should put a laptop in the coop so they can send me a tweet when they lay an egg.
about 6 weeks after bringing The Girls Home we already began to suspect that one of our ameraucana hens was, in fact, a rooster as it was developing a comb and plucking feathers off hens necks. but it’s not unusual for a hen to develop rooster characteristics in a flock without male so we held out hope that She was not a He since neighbors might not be too keen on waking up to a cock-a-doodle-doo! at the crack of dawn.
about a month later “She” started attempting to crow but it was a mangled, pitiful attempt at a cock-a-doodle-doo! but we still held out hope that She was not a He since it’s not entirely unusual for a dominant hen to try to get her crow on.
at that point whether She was a He was a bit of an academic point in terms of of annoying neighbors but we still thought perhaps she was just testing her vocal chords and would eventually chill out.
but alas, two weeks later, The Dude Who Looked Like a Lady started unmistakably announcing the appearand of the morning sun with a full-blown-the-sun-is-rising-and-i-want-the-to-let-the-world-know-COCK-A-DOODLE-DOOOOOOOO!
so, with a touch of sadness, in the interest of maintaining good neighborly relations, we arranged to have him sent to a caring home in the country.
turns out, The Girls, love, love, love the strawberry patch. it’s pretty darned cute to watch them race – and i do mean race – over to the patch when we let them roam free in the yard.
unfortunately they’re going to be pretty bummed when we mow over the strawberries this weekend.
it’s hard to believe the harvest is done and it’s already time to prep for next year.
over the next few weeks we’ll take a little time to get our new baby chicks used to us. odin has been feeding them a lot so they like him best
this is a black australorp.
and this is an ameraucana, known for laying colorful bluish green shelled eggs.
this is a fine, fluffy light brahma.
and a shot of our other ameraucana.
no shots of our buff orpingtons this time around, but i’m sure you’ll see them in the future
we’ve been talking about getting chickens for quite some time, partly for fresh eggs ( although there is certainly no shortage of farm-fresh organic eggs in the area ) and partly to have fun with odin learning about where food comes from – know your farmer, know your food! caring for chickens and collecting eggs is nothing new to odin since he’s lucky enough to go to a school that has a couple of birds right on the school grounds.
so after years of talking, we finally went out to chett’s feed and seed and bought some chicks! two ameraucanas ( they lay blue-green shelled eggs ), two australorps, two orpingtons and one light brahma. if all goes as planned we’ll pick up a couple of barred rocks soon.
for the next 5 weeks or so, they’ll stay in a brooder under a heat lamp as slowly ween them from a toasty 95F to ambient temperature.
odin quickly took to letting the chicks smell his hands and soon they were eating away from them.
he’s going to make a fine egg farmer.