Tag Archives: henhouse

Lesson 410 – How to clean a chicken’s egg

Monday night I gave a workshop on backyard poultry owning for our local town’s Adult Education program.

This is the second time I’ve given this workshop and many who attended are also signed up for the advanced class next week on “now that you have a flock, what’s next?”

Monday’s class covered the basics. How to get chicks, what’s the difference between a straight run and sex-linked birds (a very important thing to know), and what to feed your birds as chicks and then as egg-laying hens.

We talked a lot about eggs.

First of all, when the eggs are laid, they are covered with a thin film of oil that acts as a barrier protecting them from bacteria and water loss (the water content of an egg is high, if the water evaporates from inside, you’re going to have a bad egg.) If you don’t wash the egg, it can sit on your counter for a few days un-refridgerated and still be good. Think about it, in colonial times, they didn’t have refrigerators, most often the eggs sat in the kitchen until they were ready to be used.

Once you wash that oil coating off, however, the egg must then be refrigerated. In the refrigerator it can last up to a few months, but a washed egg on the table will only last a few days.

There are a few questions that I always get asked, one of which is how do you clean the eggs? Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under All things chickens, All things local, Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Chicken fun, Eggs, Everything Eggs, New Hampshire, Personal, Project Chickens before the Eggs

Lesson 404 – A count of the birds

Just as it is with children, when you have a slew of chickens sometimes it’s tough to keep track of them.

Oh the distinctive ones are easy enough to keep straight, Simon with her black polka dots, Morganne with her demure beard, and Spencer with his enormous 6 foot 4 inch height. But it’s the ones we purchased in batches, more specifically, the feed store bunch who are the most difficult to tell apart.

One might even be inclined to say that when you’ve seen a Golden Comet, you’ve seen them all. But while they may look very similar, as any chicken owner out there will tell you, each bird is uniquely different.

And when you have a fairly large flock, it can at times, be difficult to keep track of them all. Our birds graze in the enclosed dog/rabbit pen during good weather. We also have hawks, raccoons, and that lousy neighbor’s cat constantly in our yard. For safety’s sake, we need to be able to keep an accurate count of our chickens.

For weeks the kids have all been writing school introductory essays for their teachers claiming that we have forty chickens.

I’d edit each essay to thirty-nine.

Are you sure? They’d ask me.

Yeah, as sure as I can be. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under All things chickens, All things local, Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Chicken fun, Death in the henhouse, New Hampshire, Personal, Project Chickens before the Eggs

Lesson 403 – Frost on the chicken pumpkin

Well there’s frost on the pumpkin (yet another great benefit of living in New Hampshire – we get to legitimately use that phrase) and you know what that means, right?

Besides a mad scramble for gloves, mittens, and hats for the kids to wear to the bus stop, (which will then be removed and forgotten when the sun heats up the afternoon, thus beginning our annual donation of hundreds of winter items to various local Lost and Founds) it also means that we need to get the hen house ready for the winter.

Last winter we figured out that if we kept laying wood shaving in the hen house (as opposed to mucking it out each time) we were able to provide a rather toasty, somewhat insulated roosting place for our chickens. Between the poop and the moisture from the birds, there was also the added goodness of a little bit of fermentation/decomposition going on which then added to the overall temperature. Between that and roughly 16 inches of wood chip insulation, dare I say, the birds were relatively comfortable last winter.

In anticipation of the snow (which no kidding, is just around the corner) Marc and Logan spent Saturday morning mucking out the hen house (a job no one likes, but hey, it’s got to get done.) When they were finished with cleaning it out (which also included checking and rebanding the birds – I’ll talk about that tomorrow) and carting the used bedding off to the woods, they then put two fresh packages of wood shavings inside. Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under All things chickens, All things local, Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Chicken fun, New Hampshire, Personal, Project Chickens before the Eggs

Lesson 370 – The chicks’ first night in the coop

I’m pretty big on letting your chicks try to fly when the time is ready (have I mentioned that Trevor is away at gymnastics camp for 3 weeks?) Which is why when I saw that the chicks had actually survived the day in the henhouse with the larger hens, I figured, hey, why not let them start roosting in the big house.

I also decided to do this because there is very little activity in a henhouse after the sun goes down. Once a chicken is up on a roost, it tends to stay there for the rest of the night (it’s kind of a survival thing), there is no running around and pecking new little ones when darkness comes. The more the chicks stayed in the chicken coop, they more they would be acknowledged as members of the flock. I figured a night in the henhouse would do everyone a world of good (including the fact that we no longer would have to bring the STINKY nursery back into the house.)

I also wasn’t too worried about the chicks keeping warm at night (we were having slightly cool night- time temps but nothing drastic). Baby chicks sleep like baby puppies – in a pile, one big feathered mess ‘o bird. Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Chicks, Life Lessons, New Hampshire, Personal, Project Chickens before the Eggs

Project Chickens before the Eggs – Lesson 132 – There’s a fox in the henhouse

One of my sons is very literal. Don’t tell him you have blood on your hands after having contributed to a fiasco because he will refuse to shake hands with you until you’ve washed them.

I am forever explaining what certain phrases that are common to our language but ridiculous in meaning to him mean. It’s a dog eat dog day, don’t spot the baby, a stitch in time saves nine.

Which brings us to the phrase “fox in the henhouse”. I was talking about a national political situation (remember we live in NH – politics is the state sport up here) and while shaking my head I said something along the line of they’ve got a fox in the henhouse.

What I meant was that a political person of supposed power had been allowed to be where it was stupid to allow them to be.

Why is that a bad thing? Asked my son. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, Crazy Chicken Lady, Project Chickens before the Eggs, The Chicken Challenge, The kids