Chickens in the Winter

My family and I really enjoy our chickens, OK, really I enjoy keeping chicken and having children around to do all the chicken chores.  Oh, and I need to mention Dadzoo, who does his share of chicken chores.  What are my chicken chores?   I wash eggs, and cook eggs, and take pictures of eggs, and trouble shoot chicken problems from inside the house.
Hmmm, the chicken chores are starting to look a little heavy on the children/husband side and light on my side.
I blame the pregnancy.
One of the major benefits of keeping your own chickens is the nutritional quality of the eggs, depending on what you feel the chickens.  Chickens are natural foragers, they will eat everything from bugs, to vegetation, to seeds, and while keeping chickens on a store bought feed is adequate, it isn’t optimal.  During the warm months our chickens eat a lot of forage, we feed them weeds, bugs, snails,grass clippings, vegetable trimming and table scraps.  (I have even seen my chicken kill and eat a mouse…who needs cats!)  The eggs produced during these warms months are wonderful in taste and color, the yolks being dark orange, and indication of  a lot of vitamin A and D. 
In the winter, as you can see from the pictures below, there is little to no opportunity for forage items out of our yard, we do still feed them some table scraps, but not as much.  Durring this time of year the quality of our eggs goes down, indicated by the yellow yolks as opposed to the dark orange found in the summer time.

I think I found a solution this year.

The yard is frozen solid, and covered in snow, what happens to not be covered is very much dead.
Last years cabbage patch…
This past summer I planted all sorts of squash and pumpkins in any little nook or cranny I could find.  In some places the vines took over everything, but that is OK, they were beautiful and green, and I harvested a lot of squash. 

Here in lies a little problem, my family doesn’t like squash.  I know, weird!  I love squash baked, buttered and sprinkled with brown sugar, but the other guys that live in my house will have nothing to do with it.  So I was left with a lot of uneaten squash tucked in my root cellar (basement).  That is when I got the idea to cut those babies in half and feed them a little at a time to my chickens.

It was a hit with my ladies!

They love picking at the squash, eating the whole thing, from seeds to rind,
and my eggs
dark orange yolks.

(for a great article with lots of information on the value of egg yolks go here, and you will see why I am so weird about my eggs!)

This coming summer, I will be planting squash again, if only for the chickens and their wonderful eggs.

When a Chicken Gets Out

A few days ago while my girls were doing their chores, feeding the chickens and gathering eggs, one of my little hens got out.  We tried to catch the darn thing, but she was too quick and hid herself really well.  I told my girls not to worry, we would just leave her alone and since chickens are a homing bird (they like to roost in the same spot every night) she would come back to the coop, find a place to roost and sleep.  Once she was asleep we could pick her up easily and put her back in the coop.
I kinda forgot she was out there.

The next evening, when my girls went to do their chores they found our little run away hen clucking around.  She must have really missed her friends, when Punk #1 opened the door to the coop she shuffled right in, happy to cluck away with the other hens.

Then we found this:


After being a very consistent blogger during the month of March it seems like I have fallen off the face of the earth in April! I am still here, although this last week has been very busy with no time to sit and blog.

One of my favorite things about spring, besides the flowers, are eggs.

I know, eggs sounds a little weird. However during the long, cold winter my hens don’t lay very much. I have 7 hens right now and I would get about 1-2 eggs a day. A far cry from last summer when every lady would lay every day! It has to do with the lack of lighting, and while I can keep my hens laying well by giving them artificial light through out the winter, I choose not to, I would rather they had their rest, the way nature intended.

So when spring rolls around and the hens start laying more and more I get excited.

We are up to about 4 a day now, and I am hoping we will soon get to 7. Although, my hens are two years old now and they egg production will naturally go down. Now once the chicks start laying in July we will really have eggs coming out our ears. I hope that once that happens, eggs will be our primary source of protein in the summertime.

Chicks, Two Weeks Old

For all of you that wanted updates on my baby chicks, here they are two weeks old.

The adult feathers on their neck and back are starting to come in and they are loosing their cute fluffy chick look and moving into the ugly teenage years! LOL!

Recycling Eggs?

Recycling eggs?



Egg shells are very recyclable (is that a word?).
In fact if you are wanting to adopt a simpler life, reducing the amount of waste you produce, recycling egg shells is a very easy way to start.

Instead of cracking open eggs and tossing them in the garbage or disposal, just set them to the side. When you have time give the eggs a good rinsing and set them on a kitchen towel to dry. Once they are dry I give them a quick spin in my blender. A blender isn’t absolutely necessary, a good crushing with a rolling pin, or meat mallet will work, I just happen to like the shells ground small.

I feed my eggs shell dust to my chickens. They get a lot of kitchen scraps, I just sprinkle the dust on top of those before I take them to the chickens. This helps give them the minerals, especially calcium, that they need for shell formation. It saves me money, otherwise I would have to buy oyster shell from the feed store.

I also sprinkle the egg shell dust in my compost pit. I have put whole shells in my pile and they will break down, it just takes longer, the dust is quick and easy. This will help add minerals to the soil, if you want your broccoli to have calcium in it, it needs to be in the soil. This an easy, cheap and semi organic way to do so.
If you don’t have chickens and aren’t a gardener, sprinkle your eggs shell dust among your decorative plants and bushes, they will be healthier.

There you go, recycled egg shells, what simple ways do you recycle and reuse?

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