The daylight is shortening yet we’re getting lots more eggs. Magic? Nope! Young chickens.
Since we have kept chickens, I have always known who laid what. This was not rocket science, as it’s rather easy to tell a white egg from a light or dark brown one, a spotted from a blue. This has been a rather convenient ability, as we can tell who’s ailing and who’s well, plus, it makes breakfast choices more easy: “Whose eggs do you want today,” I ask the girl, “Pauline’s? Letha’s? You haven’t had Maggie’s in a while.”
But now, I find I am rather stymied at egg harvest time. Lined up on their towel, newly washed and wet, I turn them over with my fingers. It’s like we have chicken company or something, and the feeling is quite surprising. Whose are YOU, little speckled one, little pointy brown one. And new eggs from new chickens are indeed surprising. Often, they don’t have the kinks worked out in the system, so double yolks are quite common, as is the somewhat gross jelly egg (soft, unformed shell) and–once–the egg-within-the-egg total freakout.
I am glad we like eggs. With the wee bantam eggs, hard-shelled guinea eggs (guineas are stalwart daily layers in warm months, feedburners the cold months, so I guess it averages out), and now eggs from both laying hens AND meat chickens…we had better like them!
So funny about having ‘company’ chickens. But I guess that really is what it feels like – having to adapt to the new layers and their habits/eggs. Do they lay happily in company of the ‘familar’ chickens?
Cool! I’ve never seen the egg-within-an-egg, but the others, yes. Also, I’ve never had that sort of variety; we’ve always had hens all of the same breed at any given time.
We too are about to get some new young hens. The White Marans were never good producers (unsurprising for older, dual-purpose birds), and the breed was problematic in other ways. So they went “to a better zipcode” as Ali says, on Friday. By Saturday we had a few more jars of homemade chicken stock in the basement. We’re going back to the Red Stars, which we’ll fetch later this week. Not a heritage breed, unfortunately, but I really liked their habits and personalities.
I love fresh, free-range eggs. I eat two every morning. Some time back, I wrote about collecting eggs from the henhouse at a local farm and washing them and got all kinds of responses from readers saying there are good reasons not to wash eggs. What are your thoughts on that?
Ed, we sell some of our eggs, so I guess I don’t wish to give over a poop/mud colored product, thus, I wash them, at least on the spots they’re dirty. I try just with a damp washcloth and put them under water only when it’s dire. If they’re fine, they’re fine.
Washing eggs supposedly washes off the natural coating that keeps the eggs fresh, for those of you who don’t know. I have had friends that dip their (selling) eggs in a light oil after washing them to keep some kind of coat on them.
Frankly, if you use the eggs up, as you should, you shouldn’t be trying to keep them around forever. The one thing I NEVER do is refrigerate them. I find it’s easiest for me to just grab them out of the basket. And, for what it’s worth, I have never encountered a “bad” egg after nearly 4 years of raising them.
Yep, our new girls are now laying too, and I have been getting back in the habit of consuming so many eggs! We were gifted with an ice cream maker recently so (unfortunately?) that has been using up a lot of them. Also quiche and pasta. Yum.
As yet I can only identify my older hen’s eggs (gigantic) and have been guessing on the rest, but it’s a merry-go-round of using the next box (and TALKING about it endlessly) so it’s hard to tell. And what’s up with the midwifing? I keep finding my old hen in the nest box with the young girls, either well after she lays or on her days off… is she harassing them or coaching them?
Yes, our girls are laying some “interesting” eggs. I need to freeze another couple dozen, or I really will snap and make a custard or something, and I don’t need to eat that!
We had eggs and mushrooms with grilled tomatoes from the garden this morning. Yum.
I have no idea who is laying what any more. I’ve sort of given up that level of involvement, perhaps to my detriment. Something had to go!
My girls, three each of seven different types were born in June and just started laying last week. We watched two of them laying on Saturday. That’s the only reason I know from whence they came, but it was quite interesting.
When you say you never refrigerate, how long do you use them out of the basket without refrigerating?
We’ve only had one rubbery one and already we’ve had two normal sized. It’s eggciting for true.
Tee hee! “chicken company”! Yes, I’m there with you. We’ve only got two new pullets, but we’re experiencing the same phenom! It’s the little details in life, like new wonky eggs, that remind me how amazing things are!
From what I understand, most of the world doesn’t refrigerate their eggs. An egg with the bloom (clear coating that washes off with water) still intact will stay fresh for several weeks. However, once washed they must be refrigerated and are only good for a few weeks.
This year’s chicks are beginning to lay here. They get so LOUD while laying (can’t say I blame them though)!
This year we have BLUE eggs. I first time to have the easter-egg laying chickens to add to our RHR
A chicken farmer explained the “no-refrigeration” thing to me: birds lay about an egg a day, but all the chicks hatch on the same day. How does that work? Well, eggs wont’ start to develop until they are warmed by the hen. So she lays an egg a day until she has a nestful, and the eggs are there – alive and waiting for a nice warm hen to bring them up to incubation temperature.
If you take the eggs out of the nest at this point, they will continue to wait in stasis for weeks. However, if those eggs ever get cold enough to truly die, they will go bad. So don’t leave your grocery store eggs out on the counter! (I confess I forget how egg fertility plays into this – if this only works for fertile eggs or if it works for eggs from hens who’ve known no rooster.)
MC, yeah, eventually everyone works things out. There are enough nesting boxes for example and their run and coop are large enough that nobody gets stressed out! But yeah, it’s fun finding these new eggs.
Kate, well, good luck with your new birds too! This is the first time we’ve actually consistently (more than a year) had more than one breed of bird and it’s been interesting to suss out what traits were breed and what were bird. You know, the one thing I have to say about dual purpose birds that’s a good thing is that they DON’T lay every day. I have had problems with birds who do. My dearest bird died of cancer of the oviduct, isn’t that sad, because she was a high-production bird. Granted, her sisters never saw 3 years like she did and I wonder if this is why. So, yeah, I wonder. And: better zip codes, well, maybe for YOU 😉
Ed! Hope I answered your question okay…
Sara, icecream? Egad I would be huge in no time! I do think I could come up with a 2nd career of domestic bird-watching, should someone be dumb enough to pay me to do it, for stories just like your old girl “coaching.” Aren’t they fascinating? And surprisingly NOT stupid. Phyllis found me in the greenhouse yesterday and clucked at me (kid you not) to open up the shed so she could surreptitiously lay her egg in it. And, because she’s trained me well, I opened it!
Stef I hear you on standing back a bit, the whole “something having to go.” With me, it’s usually laundry 🙂 but to each her own. Oh and custards, I hear you there too. Why not get kooky/creative and make a homeschooling project out of studying bubbles, and use a souffle as your model?
Kimberly, well, lemme see (thinking about the age of the unrefrigerated eggs) probably the longest they’ve gone is 2 weeks…mostly because we just eat them right up. The ones for me usually don’t get much of a wash because I can always wash them before opening them. Congratulations on the new eggs though!! How fun.
Oh Amanda it’s true. I know you’ve had luteinizing and lactation hormones on your brain as a career path but really, they ARE rather exciting, these new little developments. And quite fun!!
Hi mradam! Yep indeed the egg-laying whoop has always kind of fascinated me. Why do it? Is it a kind of release “thank goodness that’s over with” or is it kind of a shock “OMGOMGOMG”? All the other girls start going nuts too because these are NEW chickens and new whoops after all so everyone thinks something’s terribly wrong. Quite noisy out here. But yeah, thanks for the “bloom” reference! I just am not so crazed that microbes are going to do me ill. Butter and bread and hard cheese stay out of the fridge too here.
Linda, our two Ameraucanas had the chubby cheeks, do yours? Phyllis (mentioned above) looks like a bearded lady!
Emily, yeah, isn’t it fascinating? That they hatch out at the same time, especially? What I have found is that HAVING that quantity of eggs IS that signal to sit. And what else I have found fascinating is it does indeed work that way, too: our turkey hen Ruby got attacked by a raccoon when she was sitting, it ate all her eggs, but I knew she was still broody and didn’t want to “waste” the experience for her so I grabbed an equal amount of eggs that I could find around. She sat on 11 eggs, of which 2 were goose, one a refrigerated (!!) turkey egg, and the balance (unfertile) guinea and chicken eggs. On Mother’s Day, that refrigerated turkey egg AND one of the goose eggs hatched! Thanksgiving Dinner is doing quite well with his parents, as is Jeffrey the Goose (aka Christmas Dinner).
No, no, no you can’t eat the Mother’s Day babies.