The reason for all of the madness? Eggs.

Yummy fresh eggs for my family and friends. The entertainment value is good, but the eggs – that is where it is at. We have been getting eggs for several weeks now. First little starter eggs and then normal looking eggs. The only problem I am having is that the nesting box does not appear to be inviting enough to many of my hens.

Willy nilly is how the eggs are laid. At least they stick to laying them in the coop as opposed to under it, or beside it. But mostly I am just happy they are laying. And today I am super excited! Today one of my Easter Eggers actually earned her name.

A fresh green egg

Isn't she a beaut?

Not that I caught the chicken in question in flagrante delicto. If this hadn’t have been such a beautiful minty green color one might have thought it was laid by one of my cochins. Why you might ask? Because she was sitting on it. Would you believe that one of the cochins is already trying to go broody? At some point every day I open up the nesting box and there she is, sitting all fluffed up in the center nest. She turns her little beady eye on me and gives me the deep down warning growl cluuuuuuuuk and fluffs up at me. I say nice things to her, pat her a bit, and then eject her gently from her diligence.

Maybe one day I will get some fertile eggs for her.

Also in the news, I have been letting the flock out for a little free-range time in the back yard. Supervised of course. Last time I managed to remember the camera so there is a picture heavy post in the near future. I know you can’t wait. ;) Here is a bit of a teaser:

Little boy carrying chicken

The less widely known "Chicken Relocation Program"

He is such a help.

The coop and run are finished – almost. There are little details that need to get worked out (like a sunshade) but they are pretty much finished. I don’t really see a point of putting up another picture until it is well and truly done – so you’ll have to wait. In other news Found My First Egg Today!!!!! It was a small, light brown egg that was laid underneath the coop. I had to crawl under there to get it and it is about the length of my thumb. We are going to have to work on egg laying locations with these girls. I can see it.

I am pretty sure it was Large Marge that laid this first egg, she is the biggest, red-est and alpha-est of the bunch. If it is indeed her then I pretty much have the confirmation I need that she is an Iowa Blue. Light brown egg. It tool all of my willpower, but instead of running it inside and cooking it up – I placed it in the nesting boxes. Hopefully they will get the clue.

We also need to continue our introductions. I managed to take some time and get some pictures today. Everyone has their beak hanging open because it is soooo damn hot but I managed to snap a couple worth posting. As I get better pictures of the individuals in my flock I will post them.

Dramatis Personae

Chicken itching

She is a bit camera shy

My original naming theme was going to be women of Science Fiction Movies – Princess Layea, Diva Plava Lagoona etc … but with the christening of the first girl that was pretty much shot – and I decided to wait and see what the chickens thought their names were. Luckily one of my original names stuck – because I think it is quite funny.

A Blue Laced Red Wyandotte

Say hello to Dr. Beverly Crusher

The Blue Laced Gold Wyandotte seems to be a pushy red-head. But she is gorgeous and is still the queen of stink-eye. It looked like she was shaping up to be the beta hen, but alas she has been usurped. More on those pushy pullets later, because we have to meet the Admiral.

Easter Egger Chicken

Can a chicken look dignified?

The smaller of the two Easter Eggers has turned out to have the most luxurious muff. It makes her look so haughty, like she is wearing a cravat. One day I was looking at her sauntering around and realized that she just had to be an Admiral. So I went online and determined who was the first female Admiral in the Navy.

Easter Egger Pullet

Admiral Grace Hopper

Apparently there is a bit of debate as to whom exactly the first female Admiral was, but I felt Grace Hopper was an excellent chicken name. Of course we mostly call her The Admiral. I originally thought her sister was going to be the prettiest of the two, but her markings have turned out stunning.

Easter Egger pullet stretching a wing.

Dignified?

3 down, 7 to go. I will work on getting photos for you. Also a photo of the alpha egg, it is so cute.

And also a great thing! Today I managed to get rid of my final rooster. WOO HOOOOOO! This makes S-I-X roosters that I have managed to re-home. Which means to get a final total of eight hens I had to acquire 14 chicks. A slightly better than 50% performance. But I had a little more than luck on my side – two of these were given to me a pre-sexed pullets.

So this is how it broke down. Of my original seven chicks – two were girls. Then I went and bought 6 and managed to get away with four girls (but I was sneaky and researched sexing Barred Rocks before I went to buy them – of the 4 I picked randomly 50% were boys). And the final two were pre-sexed.

To finally find a home for my final roo, who had been pitifully languishing alone in my basement, I went to a Chicken Swap about 1 1/2 hours away. I put a sign on him that said “FREE or OBO”. Typing that out just now I realize how stupid it was. I effectively put Free or or best offer – durh! Someone asked me what best offer would be better than free – I said “I pay you a dollar.” We laughed but she didn’t take him. Eventually someone wandered in who had a flock of hens in need of a bossy boy. So Henry Cabot Henhouse III got packed up in his Pampers box and sent upon his way.

Now I know you are a little confused and wondering what the “bad thing” is. Well, if you read back a little this function I went to was  Chicken Swap.

swap
v. swapped, swap·ping, swaps
v.intr. - To trade one thing for another.
v.tr. – To exchange (one thing) for another.
n. An exchange of one thing for another.

4 wk old Blue Orpingtons

Blue Orpingtons!

4 week Blue Orpingtons

These little guys have been on my "too cool to even wish for list"

4 week old Blue Orpingtons

In a fit of reverse psychology I have named them Jake and Elwood.

I am really, really done now.

Of course no one was crazy enough to swap me these beauties for a mutt roo. I swapped for these the old fashioned way, with greenbacks.

I have been debating where to put this post. Should I put it here – because … well … eggs! Or should I put it on Robbing Peter because eggs are food? But the project did not produce anything particularly edible. Edible by me that is. The chickens, they ate the eggs.

Did you know chickens love hard boiled eggs? It isn’t totally creepy when you think about it. Egg yolks are a chicken’s first food. Otherwise I don’t want to think about it. But then again – chickens apparently go nuts over cooked chicken too – so they are little cannibals. Of course, all of this is beside the point. The point is that I did a cool crafty type project for Easter and I am just now getting around to sharing it with this here intarweb. Enough chit chat – make with the pretties.

Silk Dyed Egg in Blue

I never thought I would love paisley.

This really isn’t anything new. If you search for “Silk Tie Dyed Easter Eggs” you will find plenty of instructions on how to do this. As with all things like this – it originated with The Martha. You need pure silk – most easily obtainable from your local thrift store in the form of ties. Look inside the tie for a label that says 100% silk. Apparently silk blouses, scarves and boxer shorts work also – I did not test them. I used ties. Really ugly ties. Avoid ties that have really thick fabric or any kind of texture – even if they are silk.

Easter Egg in red and black

The uglier the tie - the prettier the egg

Cut the silk into pieces big enough to completely wrap around the egg with enough left over to tie off. Also you will need pieces of white cloth (cotton preferably) the same size as the silk pieces. In keeping with the reusing men’s stuff theme I cut up one of my hubby’s old t-shirts that I was sick of seeing. Place the egg on the silk with the “right side” of the silk against the egg. Gather the fabric around the egg and get as much fabric/shell contact as you can manage. Twist the fabric at the top to make a little package and then do the same with the cotton fabric. Tie off somehow. I used bits of leftover cotton knitting yarn – The Martha used twistie ties.

Silk Dyed Easter Egg

Not my fave - but nice for pastels

Fill a pot with enough water to cover your egg packages and add 1/4 C of white vinegar. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Remove and “allow to dry”. At least that is what the original instructions said. I let mine sit overnight and the next morning they were still wet. I went about my day and came back around lunch – still damp. At this point I lost my patience and unwrapped them. None the worse for wear. So I would let them sit at least a couple of hours – but they don’t have to be dry.

Silk Dyed Easter Egg

The crispness of the transfer amazes me

I had a fifth tie – but it didn’t work for crap. That is where I learned the no textures tip that I thoughtfully provided above. I took the two eggs came out poorly and re-wrapped them in prints that did well then repeated the process. Again they came out nicely. I just lurve the way they look and cannot wait to try this again. I am considering blowing some eggs and seeing if it will work on blown eggs – I have my doubts.

As I said, I have been feeding these eggs to my chickies and they can’t get enough! Hard boiled eggs are a great treat for chickens – very nutritious. One tip I have read and plan on sticking to is that you can feed eggs cooked about any way to chickens – but don’t give them raw eggs. If your chickens get a taste for raw eggs – you are pretty much up a creek.

BOCK – hmmm what’s this that just came out of my butt? ….. ooooooooh it looks tasty!!!!! = empty nest box for the peoples.

Bit the bullet yesterday and moved the girls (and the little boy) into the coop, which I believe makes the coop officially finished!

Finished Coop

The rope over the top? A "Feature"

Of course this means that the weather decided to drop down to 42 degrees last night. So at about 11 pm the hubbster ran out and installed a heat lamp, just in case. This morning all was well and I got the stink eye when I went and checked on them. Status quo I guess.

My nefarious plan appears to have worked. Both sets of chicks (big and little ) were kept in the basement for 2 weeks, side by side. They could see each other through the baby gates by they could not get to each other.  Theory behind this what that when I put them all into the coop it would be neutral territory and they would all be so scared they would forget to try and kill each other. Yay for chicken mind games.

In the coop!

That and the fact that the little chickens out number the big girls big time. And there is enough room for them to get away from each other. They will stay in the coop for a week (or two) until we get the run finished. Once it is complete they will be released into their run on a daily basis. I am still up in the air as to whether or not I am going to keep the food and water in the coop or in the run – both have their pros and cons.

I think that the other big chick has acquired her name – but I have to stew on it a bit. We will do an intro piece (dare I say a fluff piece) if the name sticks. Now to go bribe them with some hard boiled eggs.

First off I must apologize – the chick cam is no more. Those crazy EEggers got all crazy and wandered up onto the windowsill after tormenting the big chicks. And then, well – I shudder to relate the news, one of them had the audacity to poop on my hubby’s laptop.

Which means that the cam goes bye-bye.

In happier news – I am about 95% positive that the big black chick is a girl! So high is my confidence that she is the first of the bunch to actually receive a name. And it is the best kind of name. One where you are searching to refer to someone and the name just slips out. And that name simply sticks. The aforementioned hubby actually christened this little girl.

World - Large Marge, Large Marge - World.

I am pretty sure she will shape up to be the Alpha Hen in my little flock. She is substantially larger than any of the other chicks and routinely puts the so called Rooster in his place. Up until recently it has been a significant question exactly what breed of chicken Large Marge here happens to be.

And I am happy to say I believe that mystery has also been solved. Large Marge is actually a fairly rare breed of chicken. How she came to be mine I have no idea – but the general consensus on the BYC forums is that she is an Iowa Blue!

Also not a fan of having photo taken

You can see my grubby little mitt in there to get some idea of how big she is. She pretty much matches the breed description right down to the eye color – but I haven’t been able to find any good pictures online to really compare her to.

Despite their colored name, the Iowa blue has a silvery white head. The neck and breast area of the body has white feathers with a thin black stripe down the middle that alternate to black feathers with white lacing. The lower portion of the breast, body, legs, wings, and tail are black with a bluish tint to gray tone with penciling. The neck of the roosters will resemble their back and saddle portion while hens will have a bluish to gray with penciling on their backs. Beaks of the Iowa Blue are horn, their eyes are dark brown, and the shanks and toes are slate in color.

The breed is listed as study by the chicken conservation people – meaning that they don’t even know enough about them to know how many there are.

The final kicker will be when she lays, if she lays a light brown egg then she will have met all of the descriptors for the breed. Whatever the breed – I think she is beautiful. The penciling on her chest is amazing and the soft blackness of the tail end just begs to be petted (not that that sort of behavior is tolerated by her).

So intricate

One down – at least 7 or 8 to go!

Getting chicks that is.

A final two chicks have been added to the party and they are super cute. These little buggers will jump up to the edge of the brooder when you walk up. They positively beg to get out and play with you. It is awesome.

They are what is known as Easter Eggers, meaning that they will have a chance at laying a differently colored egg. There is always a chance they will lay brown eggs, but there are also possibilities for blue, green and pink! Without further ado …

The darker one

and the lighter one.

They look awfully similar right now – but I have a feeling they will feather out to be quite different. We will see.

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