Posts tagged laying hens

A Rose Among Thorns

After waiting and watching for three months, we have discovered that little, blonde Sunnyside is the only hen from our latest clutch of six eggs. Five of those eggs hatched, four of them are dark grey or black males and she is the lone blondie and the only female.

Her lot in life so far has not been an easy one. For starters, she had trouble hatching out of her pretty blue eggshell. Two days after the first chick had hatched, her egg finally had pips around the center but progress was very slow. After the recent issues with the school incubator, we took action.

Here, FM is helping Sunnyside out of her shell. The membrane had adhered to her fluff.

Here, FM is helping Sunnyside out of her shell. The membrane had adhered to her fluff.

Her leg is stretching out.

Her legs are stretching out but she was completely spent with the effort.

After releasing her from her confines, we tucked her under Tweedle Mum and hoped for the best. All has worked out just fine.

After releasing her from her confines, we tucked her under Tweedle Mum and hoped for the best.

She was so tiny even after she had fluffed up!

She was so tiny even after she had fluffed up!

All worked out just fine!

All worked out just fine!

The first family photo

The first family photo (around 3 weeks old)

Around the two month mark, her four brothers began showing signs of Rooster-ness. Their first attempts at crowing was the gender giveaway. Little Sunnyside never joined in with her own party horn and we knew then that she was a hen and therefore a keeper.

She is not a pure breed but a mix of all sorts.

As with our whole new brood, she is a mix of a whole variety of breeds.

Our guess is that she is mostly Ameraucana because her blue eggshell, her ear tufts and her prominent tail. Hopefully she will go on to lay blue eggs of her own. She is cute, tiny and timid but is managing to hold her own among her aggressive, domineering brothers. Tweedle Mum has now kicked all of them out of the nest and out from under her wings. As a result, little Sunnyside spends a lot of time alone since she has not yet been accepted in to flock with the adult hens and she avoids the aggressive hassles from the boys. She is very curious but I haven’t managed to ‘scoop’ her yet. She is as fast as lightning and a talented flyer!

I have already nicknames her "The Lorax" because of her fabulous winged mustache!

I have already nicknamed her “The Lorax” because of her fabulous winged mustache!

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A Dozen or so …

The laying has begun!

Here is the first week's bounty minus the two that we ate and the two that were pecked or broken. 17 eggs in one week?  We better open a market stand!

Here is the first week’s bounty minus the two that we ate and the two that were pecked or broken. 17 eggs in one week? We better open a market stand!

FM and I went away for a week-long backpack trip (more on that later) and, while we were gone, we took our 6 chickens to a friend’s house (more on that later, too).  When we returned to collect them, we found out that two eggs had been laid during our absence – our first two eggs!

We brought our brood home and waited for the next eggs to show up. Sure enough, throughout this past week, the girls have produced more than a dozen eggs. The first few were small, perfectly-shaped and laid in one of the two nesting boxes. I actually watched as little Croque Madame laid hers, with watchful and attentive Roo at hand. Tweedle Dum was also one of the obedient layers who knew exactly where to place her treasure.

Little Croque Madame laid this one.

Little Croque Madame admiring her work.

But now, the egg hunt has become a daily activity. One egg was found on the gravel by the woodpile; three were laid underneath our front porch; one was laid from the height of the night roost; one was found in their dirt bath and another was found crushed in the watering tray.

Almost all the eggs are a pinky-tan colour, with the exception of two. The crushed egg and another one had paper-thin shells which crumpled with even the gentlest touch. It takes a while before newly laying hens master their egg formation so the size, shape and colour may vary.

The egg on the left is a store bought white egg for siz and colour comparison. The top right egg has a paper-thin shell that was pecked. The middle egg is the long, slim white egg (mystery layer) and the bottom egg is super teeny and freckled (I suspect Chip laid this one).

The egg on the left is a store-bought white egg for size and colour comparison. The top right egg has a paper-thin shell that was pecked. The middle egg is the long, slim white egg (mystery layer) and the bottom egg is super teeny and freckled (I suspect Chip laid this one).

We are a bit confused about who is laying and where. Chanteclers lay light brown eggs and Welsummers lay terracotta-coloured eggs with freckles. So who laid the white egg? My bet is that we actually collected an egg laid by one of our migrating Cedar Waxwings!

After reading up on it, I have placed a golf ball in each of the nesting boxes. This is supposed to show the hens that this is where eggs belong. I have also read that hens need a dark, safe place to lay eggs. Unfortunately, one of our nesting boxes gets the full brightness of the coop light so I am working on a way to darken it some more.

This was the first egg laid in our nesting boxes. The two nesting boxes are a recycled kitchen cabinet from above the stove hood fan.

This was the first egg laid in our nesting boxes. The two nesting boxes are a recycled kitchen cabinet from above the stove hood fan.

Do you think I’ll get the title of “Crazy Chicken Lady” if I sew curtains for the nesting box?  Tune in to find out!

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