Tag Archives: Eggs

Lesson 651 – Comparing a store bought egg to a free range egg – Part 2

The scientist in me (microbiologist) is cringing slightly at this post. There’s no double blind study, no accurate measurements, no blah, blah, blah. But then the real person who also lives inside me is saying – sometimes you just have to accept things for what they are.

One of the comments on yesterday’s post suggested that I show the difference between a store-bought egg and a free-range egg cracked and in a pan. The white of the free range egg is thicker and more firm, she wrote. Those of use who have chickens already know this, but I know that those who do not have chickens may  not really *get* this point.

I thought it was a good idea, so that is exactly what I did this morning. I took one of the remaining 11 eggs and one of our eggs that was roughly the same size and I cracked them one at a time into a pan.

Disclaimer – I hadn’t realized out pan was so warped. Guess it’s time to buy a new pan. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Eggs, Everything Eggs

Lesson 650 – Comparing a store bought egg to a free range egg

As many of you know, I am a storyteller (and if you doubt me, ask to see my tattoo sometime.)

Sometimes stories end the way you want them to end, sometimes they don’t, but they still must be told.

Last week on my Facebook page I shared a photo of a cooked store-bought egg compared to a free range egg. “This is yet another reason for having your own chickens.” I wrote.

Someone asked me if the photo was real in portraying the difference between the two eggs (the store bought egg had a light yellow yolk, the free range a golden orange one. ) I had assumed it was but sometimes assumptions can steer you away from the truth.

I decided to do a comparison at home and to show everyone my results. Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Eggs, Everything Eggs

Lesson 632 – Houston, we have some Maran eggs

We have been waiting and waiting (and waiting) for our Black Copper Maran chicken; Charlie to lay an egg. She was born in early January and that makes her 10 months old. That’s certainly old enough to be laying eggs. Marans lay dark brown eggs that look like they are made of chocolate. But even though we’ve looked and looked, we’ve found nothing.

Maybe she’s hiding them I thought, and I inspected all corners and rafters in our henhouse.

Still nothing.

But then I took a look at our egg collection and something caught my attention.

Do you see what I see?

Some of our eggs are darker. When you look at them alone, they just look like rich brown eggs, but when you compare them to our other brown eggs then you’ll see that something is clearly different. Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, Charlie, chicken care, Eggs

Lesson 575 – Eggs baskets and graveyards

It is difficult to get rid of things that have served us well.

Oh sure, after awhile they start getting rough around the edges, they may even start sporting some holes here and there, but the memory of what they once did, how they served us lives on.

Which is why we are starting to get a bit of an egg basket graveyard in our backyard.

The kids tend to leave our egg baskets outside and between the weather and the weight of summertime abundance, the baskets start showing their age.

A fray here, the beginning of an unravel there, and soon what was handy and sturdy has become unreliable and obsolete. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, Eggs

Lesson 560 – When you wish upon a star

This is the back of our henhouse. Notice the trees. Our property is surrounded by lots of woods.

Which makes me a little concerned because in our town we have daily sightings of a mama bear and her two cubs.

When I teach chicken workshops, I tell people that the best way they can spend their money is to get a secure henhouse. Don’t fool yourself into thinking those little prefab ones at the Tractor Supply (I like to call them “Tinker-toy coops”) are going to protect your flock.

They aren’t. Your chickens would be gone in a heartbeat.

Our coop is built to housing standards and all three doors close with a lock.

Here is nesting box door. Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Personal, Resources

Lesson 549 – The joy of chicken stories

People who have chickens are people who have stories.

Seriously, if you know anyone who has chickens, take them out for a cup of coffee and just start off with the question – “What’s one of the most memorable things your chickens have done?”

Oh, the stories this little guy could tell.

That’s it. That’s all it takes. You wont’ be sorry. (By the way, we also make great party guests.)

Some of the favorite chickens stories I’ve heard from others involve roosters. When roosters are young they can be docile, often misleading you into believing that they will not become the devilish roosters of other people’s stories.

Not true.

When roosters mature he becomes mean. It’s his job, it’s how he protects the flock.

One woman once told me that her parents had chickens and there was one rooster in particular who was very aggressive. Every afternoon, he’d know when it was time for her to come home from school and he’d be ready at the bus stop to attack her. Every. Single. Day.

She told me that for much of her childhood, every afternoon became a life or death race from the school bus to the front door trying to outrun that killer rooster in order to reach the safety of the house.

It probably would have been easier to get rid of the rooster but chicken owners tend to live and let live. An aggressive rooster? Not his fault, that’s how he was meant to be. Just make sure you know how to run.

And besides, if her parents had gotten rid of the rooster, she’d never have that wonderful story.

Last night I met a gentleman who used to have chickens on his property in town. He told me that in the wintertime, it was his young daughter’s responsibility to go out and gather the eggs.

One morning, she collected the eggs and not having any place to out them, she gently placed them in her warm pockets. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, Life Lessons, Personal, Roosters

Lesson 548 – Egg Washing 101

During my chicken workshops I cover how to wash eggs. It’s not really a complicated subject but you might be surprised at how many people are concerned about bacteria on eggs (especially with that big Salmonella scare last year) and want to know specifically how to clean them.

I get it, I get it. Eggs come out where??? Poop is gross. Poops on eggs is even more gross. But let’s talk a little about those eggs.

First of all when eggs are laid, they are covered with a thin oil coating that makes the shell impermeable to water (and therefore bacteria.) Because of this, you don’t need to refrigerate an unwashed egg for up to a few (3 tops) days. (Of course I tell people that they shouldn’t ever leave any eggs in a very hot kitchen or in direct sunlight.)

Most people don’t like any kind of dirt (especially poop) on their eggs. Not a problem, but all you really need is a little water and a soft sponge.

This is how I wash all of our eggs:

I use gloves, but I use thin plastic (reusable gloves) so that I can retain a certain amount of feel for the eggs. If you have any cuts or scraps on your hands, gloves are a requirement. (If you choose not to use gloves then make sure you use lots of soap and hot water afterward to wash your hands.)

I use a soft plastic bucket (I use the bottom of an old salad spinner) and fill it halfway with warm (not hot) water. Each egg gets gently placed in the bottom of the bucket (I only do about 10 eggs at a time to make sure they have room around them.)

Any eggs that float or whose butts tilt upward are discarded because it means that air has entered the shell and you can no longer guarantee that they haven’t been contaminated. Throw those suckers out.

Each remaining egg is then picked up and with a soft sponge (dollar store sponges work great) I gently scrub off any dirt. You’ll soon discover that a light touch is all you need. Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under chicken care, Eggs, Personal, Resources

Lesson 528 – Easter with half the flock

This weekend is Easter weekend. Some of our chicks are returning home to roost if only for a few days for the holiday, while one of our chicks is in North Carolina at a High School FIRST competition (safe travels Logan.)

As the kids get older, celebrations tend to adapt. All the hoopla, all the decorations tend to get a little muted, distilled down to the activities with the most meaning and memories.

When they were younger, the Easter Bunny would leave baskets for the kids that they could only find by following a series of clues hidden in color coded eggs. The non-readers would get picture clues (the stove, the mailbox) while the older ones would get riddles that needed to be solved in order to get to the next clue. Some years it would take a half hour of running around before you got to your reward.

Again, with age, the Easter Bunny started sending the kids outside the house (often in Spring mud) as well as to each floor of our 3 story house. Distance between clues became an important part of the search. Preparation for Easter morning meant always knowing where your boots were. I guess that bunny figured that if you were going to get a boatload of candy you might as well start working it off. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Backyard Chickens, Holidays, Personal, The Family, The kids

Lesson 456 – A whopper of an egg story

One of our chicken friends (Stephan, not Stephen – for those who read the comments) sent me the following photos this past weekend with the subject line of “Over achiever!” It seemed that when he went out to his henhouse, this is what he found:

Here’s another photo showing the size.

That is one big egg!

One of my favorite stories when I was a kid was a book called “The Enormous Egg.” It was the story of a large egg, found in a chicken’s nest that when hatched turned out to be a dinosaur (hey, it could happen.) The story ends happily (if you haven’t read it you should) and my entire life, I’ve been waiting and hoping to find a dinosaur egg in a henhouse.

This weekend I thought that maybe there was a chance with Stephan’s egg.

Wonder what’s in that thing, I told him, holding my breath, not even daring to hope against hope.

Stephan cracked the egg and this is what he found: Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Eggs, New Hampshire

Lesson 453 – The case of the missing eggs

It’s winter here in New Hampshire, it’s dark and it’s cold. I don’t even want to get out of bed some days and I certainly don’t blame our hens for not wanting to go to a cold box in order to lay some eggs. But enough is enough, even with knowing that egg production drastically goes down in the winter months (simply a normal reaction to the lack of sunlight) we shouldn’t be down this low.

Right now we have about 35 laying hens (including 7 chicks that were born this spring.) During the summer we were getting almost 2 dozen eggs a day, now we are lucky if we get 10. That’s quite a decrease and while I know that to increase egg production I can install a light (roughly 16 hours of light is needed a day for maximum egg production) I think that something else might be going on.

This past weekend we did a little investigating. For the most part our girls lay their eggs in or near the nesting boxes. We don’t remove the woodchips during the winter months so some of the girls make their own nests in the deep chips in the corners. Our first clue that something was up was that we were no longer getting our beautiful small bantam eggs in the nest boxes anymore. Where did they go? Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Chicken things, Eggs, Inspiration, Life Lessons, New Hampshire, Personal, Points to ponder, Teaching kids, The Family, The kids