Chickens, Eggs, Our Animals, Uncategorized

Sadly, we are now chicken-less

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Even though we were blessed with no damage from Hurricane Florence, when we thought that NC was going to be hit with a Cat 5 (ish) hurricane, things got real and my life perspective changed immediately.

When you have to decide what to take with you and you can ONLY take what will fit in your vehicles, it really makes you think. It was a short list…

Dogs (and everything they need)
Cat (and everything she needs)
Phone and charger
Ipad
Camera
Things hubby and I need (clothes, water, food etc.)

And then there were the chickens. 12 of them. We couldn’t just leave them. Graciously, my oldest daughter said we could bring them with us to her house and keep them in the garage in kennels. That’s alot to deal with. Thinking about all of that stressed me like you can’t imagine.

I realized quickly that we were NOT prepared for emergencies/disasters where our chicken were concerned. We had made them makeshift “balconies” to keep them out of any rising water, but to actually keep them safe by taking them somewhere?

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We had no barn or out building to put them in. I feared their coops were not strong enough. So many more thoughts and emotions those few days before Flo hit. I can’t do that again. I’m too old for all that and they deserve a safe haven if this happens again.

So…we made the decision the weekend before last to at least downsize and we rehomed 7 hens to a friend.

This past weekend we rehomed the remaining 5 girls to another good friend of mine. I just can’t do it any more. I obviously was not meant to be a chicken mom…they aren’t just chickens to me, they are pets (not anything like our “real” pets, but I am still very attached to them). I would never have been able to “cull” any of them, and if one had died – it would have been extremely hard to bury her. I’m just not a “chicken Mom” I guess.

With all that said…even though we are now chicken-less, we are still a homestead and we are still living the healthier life! Our posts may be of a different nature but we are still Our Healthy Homestead!

Thanks to everyone that follows us…we appreciate you so much!

Chickens, Eggs

Is that egg fresh?

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If you have ever cracked a rotten egg unexpectedly, you know how important it is to have an idea if the egg you are about to crack is good or not!  YUCK!!!!!  That happened to me one morning and let’s just say, I didn’t eat breakfast that day!

Here are a few tips from Countryside Daily that will help save you from experiencing a rotten egg…

Float Test

I used the float test. While the float test is not 100 percent accurate, it has proven accurate enough for me. I use a 1-gallon bucket to do my float test. I fill the bucket 3/4 of the way full with water then add the egg(s) in question. Fresh eggs will lie on their sides on the bottom of the bucket. When an egg is a few days old, it will have one end that tips upward at a slant; if the egg is stale, it will stand on its end; and if the egg is rotten, it will float to the top. Any egg that floats in any way, shape, or form, I call it rotten. The way this works is that the air space at the large end of the egg enlarges as the egg ages and that airspace causes it to float.

Bowl Test

The bowl test is considered to be the simplest way to perform an egg freshness test. Usually, a bad egg can be determined without completely breaking the shell. It’s harder to crack because the membrane has become tough. It will smell bad even from the outside and just as you barely crack it, stinky thick rottenness will ooze out. Some eggs are harder to determine by examining them and you just have to use the bowl test. You’re bound to get surprised from time to time. An egg that looks dirty and old will turn out to be fresh and one that looks fresh will turn out to be old. If the egg I crack open doesn’t have a funny smell, has good color, and the egg white is clear, I go ahead and use it.

But always use the mantra, “If in doubt, throw it out.” If you’re checking more than one egg at a time, be sure to rinse the bowl really well if a rotten one is found. One time my grandmother was cracking eggs and an undeveloped chick plopped out into the skillet. It was gross and smelled horrible. She said, “Well, that’s why I should be using a bowl.”

Candle Test

According to the old-timers, candling chicken eggs is the most reliable way to perform an egg freshness test. They tested the egg with a candle, that’s how the test got its name. The same effect is achieved by shining a powerful light through the egg while in a dark room. You can buy a candling station, but a good flashlight or even a candle will work in a dark room. Remember that the darker the egg shell, the harder it is to see. There is no way to tell if an egg is fertile or not without candling it. If the egg is fertile, you will see a spider like formation which is really just blood vessels forming. Personally, I don’t candle to determine fertility, I leave that up to nature. To perform the candle test, shine the light source next to the large end of the egg and you will see the inside of the shell illuminated. If the contents do not fill the shell, the egg is not exactly fresh. The larger the air pocket, the older the egg. In a fresh egg, the yolk doesn’t move about freely because the air space is small. In an older egg, the yolk will move around more freely.

 

Needless to say…I ALWAYS use the bowl test when I am cooking eggs!!!  I’ve only had that one rotten egg, but believe me, that’s enough !!!!

Smiles and Blessings ~

Heather

 

 

Chickens, Eggs, Homestead

Easter Eggs!

 

Easter Eggers

Finally !!! One of our Ameraucana pullets is a big girl now !! A hen!

We found our very first “easter egger” bluish-green egg yesterday !  Our six EE girls were born last February – we got them in mid-April – and we have been waiting for this day since then!!  I was soooo surprised when I went to collect our 5 eggs yesterday (our 5 laying hens are usually on it daily…sometimes we only get 4 though if one is taking a rest day!)  and there were 6 eggs – a smaller bluish green egg along with the normal 3 white, 1 brown, and 1 light brown collection.

Pullets (“baby” hens) typically start laying eggs around 6 months old, but that depends on the breed.  Larger breed like Wyandottes, Plymouth Rocks and Orpingtons will start laying a little later, but smaller breeds such as the Leghorns, Stars, and Australorps will start laying sooner.

We got all of our laying hens when they were already laying, so this is a learning experience for us!!!  We are excited that our other 5 Ameraucana (Easter Eggers) will start laying soon, and we also have a Barred Rock and a Blue Andalusian that are the same age, so they will be getting ready to put their eggs into the mix too!

Here is one of our Easter Eggers…maybe this “big” girl is the layer of our first blue/green egg yesterday!

 

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Chickens, Essential Oil - Recipes, Essential Oils

Cleaning the Coop Naturally

 

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Since we are new to chicken “farming”, we wanted to incorporate our love of essential oils in our poultry care! We knew that Lemon Essential Oil is awesome for its cleaning properties and it is all natural, so we decided to use it to deodorize our chicken coop!

This spray works great, is safe for our chickens, and best of all it is  100% chemical free!

  • Using a 16 ounce spray bottle – glass is best – fill 1/2 way with white vinegar
  • add 25 drops of Lemon Essential Oil – you can buy it here – swirling the bottle to mix
  • Fill the rest of the bottle with water

We clean our nesting boxes, roosting bars, and for general coop clean up !

*If you would like more information on how to get your hands on essential oils or how to use them, you can contact me here !

Chickens

Fun Fact Friday – “Are there any common chicken practices that you believe to be harmful or just less-than-ideal? Certain coop setups, feed, nesting materials, etc.”

This week’s read question is “Are there any common chicken practices that you believe to be harmful or just less-than-ideal? Certain coop setups, feed, nesting materials, etc.”

As far as “chicken practices”, I am only assuming that the reader means commercial practices in hatcheries and chicken processing plants.  Since we are small backyard chicken parents, I will be the first to admit that I know nothing about the practices in commercial facilities, so I really can’t speak to that.  I have seen articles on Facebook about overcrowding, feeding them steroids for bigger chickens (meaning bigger chicken pieces to sell to consumers), etc. and I don’t agree with any of those things at all! I realize that we eat these little guys and gals and that we, as consumers, contribute to the demand for chicken to eat, but I believe there are farms that are more caring and I am going to make it a point to find some local organic chicken farms to purchase my chickens for eating!  Thanks for that question, it has really made me more aware of what I am eating and where and how the chickens were raised!

Now, coop setup.  This totally depends on how much room and money you have!  Just my opinion.  We have 2 chain link fence dog kennels configured into a 10’x30’ are for our chickens.

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PICTURE HERE

 

We live in a neighborhood, so they can’t free range all over the place, but we do let them in our fences in back yard to semi free range in the evenings while we are outside cleaning coops, tending to the plants, and letting our little dog Mike run around.

 

Ideally, when we have our own property, I plan to purchase a small, pre-built shed to turn into a “chicken house” with a large totally enclosed run for them with a door in the shed to go in and out.  To me, this is the ideal coop set up!  With a walk in door in the shed it makes it much easier to clean, gather eggs, and I will use the front end of the shed to store feed/cleaning items.  Sort of like these (on a smaller scale)…

Photos found on Pinterest

 

Some coop/bedding choices are:

  • Straw and Hay – a very popular choice, soft for the hens and eggs, inexpensive, and durable.
  • Pine Shavings – readily available and very affordable, this is what we use. They dry very quickly, and can be scooped out easily.  They are also great for the compost pile after cleaning out the coop!
  • Cedar Shavings – they work much like pine shavings, except for the scent and chickens respiratory systems. There are differing opinions on whether cedar is safe for chickens,  therefore, not an option for us.
  • Sand – a great choice as nesting box bedding if you are committed to spend time sifting it! I have a cat and I detest the litter box, so this is not an option for me as we have to sift litter inside already!  As a ground layer for the outside run, I would LOVE to have sand, when we own the property where our chickens live 😉   It dries super fast and the hens would love it for dust bathing!
  • Grass Clippings – they could be free but clippings tend to stay more moist. This will make them smell more.  Also, if you don’t know where the clippings came from, they may be full of pesticides or chemicals!  The chickens will pick at it and that could be dangerous!
  • Recycled Paper – again, not a favorite option of mine since there is ink in the paper and can also be slippery when wet. The main drawback is that when a hen lays, the egg is wet and the paper will stick and dry to the egg!

For the Nest Box – pine shavings are our choice.  One nesting box for 3-4 chickens is ideal.

Some ideas for nesting boxes are:

  • Covered or uncovered cat litter boxes
  • Pet carriers (you can find these at yard sales or thrift stores)
  • 5-gallon buckets obtained from restaurants or other sources, on its side
  • Plastic dish tubs
  • Plastic milk and soda crates
  • Wooden crate (harder to clean than plastic)
  • Old drawers from a dresser or desk
  • Plastic storage tub – cut a hole in the lid and lay on its side

Chicken Feed:  totally a personal choice as to what you think is best for your flock.  We chose Nutrena Layer Feed from Tractor Supply.  It has all the nutrients and egg hardening properties for “adult” (over 16 weeks) hen!   We do have 2 that are just under 16 weeks and have also been eating this feed.  I’m thinking now I should go buy this. I just realized they are NOT 16 weeks old yet  – still a few weeks to go!  We tried the pellets first, but our flock seems to like the crumbles better!

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So, I think this week’s Fun Fact Friday is a wrap!  I hope I answered the questions of “Are there any common chicken practices that you believe to be harmful or just less-than-ideal? Certain coop setups, feed, nesting materials, etc.”!!

Next Friday we will be looking into our final reader question…”What would be your number one tip for new chicken owners?” – please come back next week and join us!

 

 

Chickens, Eggs, Homestead

Fun Fact Friday – Do you ever sell chicks or eggs? Is that regulated at all?

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Our next reader question is – Do you ever sell chicks or eggs? Is that regulated at all?   Great questions!!

We don’t raise chickens, so as far as selling chicks, I had to research that and here  is the North Carolina Statutes on Chick Dealers and Hatcheries.  I learned a lot reading through this…thank goodness we never intended, nor had a desire, to hatch or sell chicks!

So, yes, there are laws governing selling chicks and hatching eggs (eggs that have been fertilized and are being sold for hatching purposes).

Selling eggs for eating (unfertilized eggs) we do!  North Carolina law – the “Egg Law” – can be found here.  The short version of the Egg Law is “a producer marketing eggs of his own production shall be exempt from this section when such marketing occurs on the premises where the eggs are produced, processed, or when ungraded sales do not exceed 30 dozen per week.”

Our Oily Homestead Eggs

 

The way I read that is that if a farm sell eggs that their chickens lay and the sale takes place on the property where the eggs were laid, they are exempt from the grading of eggs, or if they sell less than 30 dozen ungraded eggs a week (that’s a bunch of chickens y’all  – 360 eggs a week – that would be a max of 360 hens!!!)  Also, containers must have the word “Eggs” on the container along with the farm’s name.  We purchase our egg cartons at our local Tractor Supply Store.

We sell eggs to our friends that know the value of fresh eggs!  We only do this when we have an abundance of eggs – our main reason for having our hens is so that we are more self-sustainable – but when we have more than we will eat, we sell a dozen or two!

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That’s pretty much it in an “eggshell” – NC laws for selling chicks and eggs – at least that is what my research turned up!

Fun Fact Friday next week will tackle the question – “Are there any common chicken practices that you believe to be harmful or just less-than-ideal? Certain coop setups, feed, nesting materials, etc.”

See you next week !

Chickens, Homestead

15 Egg Facts You May Not Know

 

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Fry them, poach them, boil or bake them – any way you crack them, eggs are delicious. As much as we rely on them for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and dessert, of course!), there are many interesting facts about eggs that aren’t common knowledge. Enjoy some of these lesser-known tidbits:

1. Chef hats traditionally have pleats equal to the number of ways that you can cook an egg.

2.  Harriet, a hen from the United Kingdom, laid the world’s largest egg in 2010. Her astonishing egg measured 9.1 inches in diameter.

3.  It takes a hen between 24 and 26 hours to develop an egg. Once she lays an egg, the development of a new egg normally starts within 30 minutes.

4.  Chickens don’t produce one egg at a time. Instead, producing hens normally have several eggs in various stages of development.

5.  Eggshell colors have nothing to do with flavor or nutritional value of the egg. Brown, white and even blue and green egg shells are simply indicative of the breed of hen.

6.  The hen’s diet determines the color of the yolk. Some producers feed natural supplements like marigold petals so that their hens lay eggs with brighter yolks.

7.  There are several reasons why we eat chicken eggs instead of duck or turkey eggs. Chickens lay more eggs, they need less nesting space and they don’t have the strong mothering instincts of turkeys and ducks, which makes egg collection easier.

8. White eggs are more popular among commercial producers because chickens that lay white eggs tend to be smaller than their brown egg-laying cousins, therefore needing less food to produce the same number of eggs.

9.  Most of today’s egg-laying hens are White Leghorns (white eggs) or Rhode Island Reds and Barred Plymouth Rocks (brown eggs).

10.  Not all chickens create eggs equally. Some breeds lay eggs almost every day. Other breeds lay eggs every other day or once to twice per week.

11.  When it comes to the number of eggs laid each year, Iowa leads the nation with more than 14.8 billion eggs produced annually. Ohio is the next state in line, producing 7.9 billion eggs each year.

12.  Eating raw eggs won’t help you build muscle. Only 51% of the proteins in raw eggs are digestible, while 91% of the proteins in cooked eggs are digestible.

13.  Can’t tell if that egg in the refrigerator is raw or hardboiled? Try spinning it! Raw eggs wobble as the liquid inside shifts, but hardboiled eggs spin smoothly.

14.  Because older eggs have larger air cells, they’re much easier to peel than fresh eggs.

15.  Cloudy egg whites mean that the eggs are extremely fresh, while clear egg whites are an indicator of older eggs. Cloudiness of raw white is due to the natural presence of carbon dioxide that has not had time to escape through the shell and is an indication of a very fresh egg. As an egg ages, the carbon dioxide escapes and the white becomes more transparent. Other colors in the egg white may be a sign of spoilage, so if it’s not cloudy-white or clear, don’t eat it!

Reposted from –  http://farmersalmanac.com/blog/2015/05/04/15-egg-facts-you-may-not-know/