Some people are allergic to eggs, some downright dislike them and others, like my partner, Jan, have an iffy relationship with them, eating them in limited quantities. I love them: they are delicious and versatile and would be on my list of Top 10 Desert Island Foods.
And, of course, as a poultry breeder I’m totally in awe that something I crack into a frying pan actually has the potential to become a living, breathing creature as cool as a chicken.
For National Egg Day I thought I’d review my year in eggs. There were some highs and lows, some quirks and some successes. So here goes:
I’ve only ever had two ‘fart eggs‘. I found this one buried in the shaving: a perfectly rounded sphere saturated with pigment so the colour was an awesome blue.
I’ve had a few weird eggs: soft or bumpy shelled, ones with wrinkles, bullet shaped, double yolkers, even an egg-within-an-egg, but this was my first egg with a tail.
I had to intervene a couple of times to save viable chicks in order for them to hatch. It’s always a dilemma whether, and when, to help or not but so far I’ve been successful. In each case, the hens, Mercedes and Mango, abandoned the unhatched eggs, but accepted the chicks back post-hatch.
When my friends, Tracy and Keith were on vacation their broody hen, Whitey, died on the nest the night before hatch day. I borrowed an incubator and hatched the eggs in their absence and gave the chicks back on their return.
Most of my hens consistently lay in the nest boxes, but occasionally I find eggs in odd places. Unfortunately this practice led to the demise of Pixie, when unbeknownst to me she had a nest in the storage shed and a raccoon found her on the first night she was incubating her hidden stash. This was my first raccoon fatality in almost a decade of keeping chickens.
I’m always tweaking my flock looking for that perfect combination of funky looking birds who lay spectacular looking eggs. I’ll still fine tuning things, but have been pretty pleased with the eggs they’ve produced.
You can’t expect a species that’s designed to lay so many eggs not to have issues with their reproductive systems. Hens are prone to being egg bound, having egg peritonitis, prolapses and infections. My lovely Corazon had a minor prolapse after straining to lay a soft-shelled egg, which progressed to a series of major prolapses and Salpingitis, otherwise known as ‘Lash Egg‘. The mass is not a true egg, but a collection of pus and bits of unlaid eggs.
Every year I donate hatching eggs to elementary schools and get the chicks back. This year I’ve got 42 eggs split between two schools. I timed it so the eggs all went into the incubators on the same day and I’ll pick up all the chicks on the same day. I’ve learned from experience not to stagger hatches and integrate chicks of different sizes. They’ll all be in one big pen and coop together. I’ve got some Frizzles and Naked Neck x in there so I’m really hoping those ones hatch. Today their incubator goes into lock down gearing up for hatch day later this week.
Dealing with broody hens (last year I had 17!) and their chicks is work, and more work. But when everything goes well it’s rewarding. I love those littles and I’m always curious to see the expression of varied genetics in my birds. Because I breed crosses my flock is always shifting and interesting patterns and features pop up here or there.
I love my birds. Through having them I’ve met all kinds of people: eating and hatching egg customers; people who’ve purchased my birds; folks who’ve donated shavings, wood ashes, egg cartons and egg shells; the people involved in the local food recovery program. I’ve met even more people since starting my blog: chicken keepers and chicken lovers, those who are curious and interested in what I’ve been up to.
I’ve been blogging for eight months and have received all kinds of feedback, comments and support. Thanks for hanging in. I’ll keep posting more egg stories in the coming year.
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