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!

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

 

 

Easter Eggs!

 

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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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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 !

Fun Fact Friday – “Chicken Regulations”

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Our next reader question is… “Are there regulations in your area for how many you can own in proportion to the size of the property you own?”

Yes, there are regulations for those that live inside the city limits of Goldsboro, NC.  The restrictions are as follows:

“The chickens must be kept in a well-ventilated enclosure large enough to give 10 square feet of space for each chicken and at least 15 feet from all property lines and roosters are not permitted unless the property is a bona fide farm or at least 200 yards away from any dwelling, hospital, school, church or eating establishment.”

Source:  Goldsboro News Argus (http://www.newsargus.com/news/archives/2012/10/21/chickens_allowed_within_city_limits/ )

Residents that live outside the city limits (that’s us!) but inside Wayne County (the county we reside in), have no restrictions other than moral/neighborly ones!   We {thankfully} live in the county, we do not own our land, we rent the land our mobile home in on, but since we are not in the city limits, we have no restrictions.  We do, however, consider our neighbors and do not have any roosters – we like our neighbors and don’t want to infringe on their peace and quiet…and we don’t want chicks !!!

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Because our chickens are more like pets that feed us breakfast, we also follow the recommended guidelines for the amount of space that a chicken needs individually – at least 10 square feet per chicken.  Since we have 12 hens, we would need 120 square feet of space for them, and we provide them with 300 square feet of run space – along with daily “yard time” with us and our dog, Mike.

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So there you have it…the “chicken rules” for our neck of the woods ! Very simple regulations, but they were very difficult to find!  I called our animal control department, searched the web and the only thing I came up with was the news article!

Next week we will be covering selling chicks and/or eggs !!! Stay tuned !

Just for giggles….here are  a few fun facts for this Friday –

  • A female chicken is a “pullet” until she is old enough to lay eggs, when she becomes a “hen”
  • Male chickens are called “roosters”
  • Most eggs are laid between 9 and 11 am
  • You can tell if an egg is fresh or stale by dropping it in water…fresh ones will sink
  • Chickens have full-color vision
  • Chickens establish a “pecking order” in social situations
  • Chickens can run at a speed of 9 mph {I’ve seen ours run…and this is TRUE!}