Category / Eggs

Chickens Eggs Stories from Our Nest

Eggs

One of the fantastic things about keeping backyard chickens is creating your own eggs.   Yes, by keeping backyard chickens, you are able to influence what goes into those eggs that your family consumes.  Backyard chickens’ eggs are known to healthier than those available in your local supermarket in a number of ways.  The cholesterol is lower and the eggs are higher in Omega-3s, Vitamin A and beta-carotene.

We are able to feed our chickens organic feed that truthfully is only about $3 more per 50-pound bag.  We are also able to control the treats that the flock eats and where they free range.  To me, this is truly knowing where your food comes from.  If you ask my kids, it comes “fresh from the butt”.  Today, my daughter told me that quiche was her favorite food.  I might just have to agree, especially when I know those eggs are made with love on both my end and the chickens’.

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Eggs Stories from Our Nest

Clean Eggs

Clean unwashed eggs from the girls

I never wash my eggs.  When chickens create the egg, the shell is “wrapped” in an antimicrobial coating.  This coating, serves a few purposes.  First, it keeps bacteria, viruses and the like from entering the egg.  It also helps maintain the egg’s moisture content, extending the egg’s shelf life.  Some say this protective coating also allows individuals to keep eggs unrefrigerated for a few weeks.  However, I would never endorse this.  It is important given technology, to refrigerate eggs immediately upon harvesting to ensure the safety of your family.

Eggs available for purchase in the grocery store have been washed.  As the protective coating is washed away, so is the shelf life.  When the coating is removed, the egg’s shell becomes permeable, allowing air and microbes to enter through microscopic pores on the surface of the egg.

This comes around to a question that I get asked frequently, “How do you keep your unwashed eggs so clean?”  I like to keep the protective coating on my eggs, for the reasons listed above. So I am diligent with hygiene in the coop and nesting boxes.  Everyday, I clean the nesting boxes of feathers and poop.   This only takes a few minutes. On a weekly basis, the entire coop is cleaned out.  I have this luxury, because my coop is small.  I also keep my chickens clean.  For some reason, only Oyster Cracker’s backside needs tending to now and then.

Do I ever wash my eggs?  Well, yes, sometimes a little blob of poop gets stuck to the shell.  Those I wash and consume first, even before previously harvested eggs.  I don’t mind a tiny little smear of dirt, as you can see on the third egg from the left in the front row.  Once I am ready to use the eggs, I typically wash the ones with visible soiling.  I do not wash the “clean” ones.

To me it comes down to the simple fact.  I would rather nurture nature than interfere with it.  However, that being said, I have been known to wash a chicken now and then.

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Eggs Health Issues Stories from Our Nest

Egg Drought

The girls have slowed down laying eggs.  In the early Spring and Summer, we were enjoying six eggs per day.  However, lately this has changed.  I was lucky to get one egg yesterday and two the day before.  I knew that the Silkies would not lay while broody.  Yet, I had grown accustomed to seeing three large eggs per day while the Silkies sat on their imaginary eggs.   It could only mean one thing, the heat is taking it’s toll on the girls.

Despite my best efforts to keep them cool, they must be stressed from the heat.  Poor girls.  Other than not laying eggs, they feel fine.  They still enjoy frolicking in the run and yard.  They enjoy treats from the kitchen and water cooled with blocks of ice.  They still enjoy their mid afternoon nap and Dottie Speckles still enjoys living with gusto!

I know that once this heat and humidity will break and the eggs will return.  The Silkies are finally done with being broody except for Feathers and next week Fifi will turn 20 weeks, which means her first egg will be laid any day now.  I miss those eggs, and hate to think about having to go back to the “dark side” and purchase eggs from the local grocer.  Maybe, I will have to make a trip to Wingscorton Farm, pick up eggs and see how their girls are dealing with the heat.

Photo Credit:  Rodale Institute

Chickens Eggs Stories from Our Nest

Sleep on Roosts, Lay in Boxes

Dottie Speckles 11 weeks

Now that Dottie Speckles is 11 weeks old and Fifi is 14 weeks, I have been trying to get these two to sleep on the roosts at night.  Since the beginning of being transitioned into the large coop, they have been sleeping in the nesting boxes with Feathers and Dolly.  Two nights ago, I realized that this needed to change.

It needed to change for a few reasons but the one that was most important to me was keeping the nesting boxes free from chicken poop.  Okay, I know this is weird, but all my “grown up” chickens hold their poop until the morning.  Once outside, they all seem to pass their evening’s accumulations.  Yes, gross, to talk about, but could it be that my chickens are potty trained?  If only it were so easy with little kids.  Does this ever happen to you?

Anyway, for the last two nights, when it was almost dark, I have opened the nesting boxes to find all the Silkies and Dottie Speckles snuggled together.  In fact, last night Feathers, Fifi, and Dolly were all in the same box!  Each night it is the same.  I gently lift all of them from the boxes and place them on the roosts.  They fuss all the while but I have yet to see them return to the boxes.  The best part is that this morning the nesting boxes were unsoiled.

I am trying to avoid placing any sorts of cones or blockades in the nesting boxes for now.  I hope that they get the hint.  They say it takes 3 days/nights to change a behavior with children.  I wonder if the same thing goes for chickens?

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Eggs

Handcrafted Egg Carrier

Yesterday was my birthday.  We spent Saturday with friends and they surprised me with wonderful presents.  One of those happened to be this awesome wooden egg carrier handcrafted by their friend!  It is so unique and versatile.  You can use it to carry eggs as you collect them from the nesting boxes or place it on a shelf in the fridge to hold your eggs, keeping them safe until ready for use.  I am so lucky to have such thoughtful friends that know how much I adore my chickens.

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Eggs Stories from Our Nest

Broody Strategies

We are in this together!

Just another Saturday in the life of these two broody girls.

Here are the facts:

These two have been broody since the beginning of March.

They are sitting on invisible eggs.

I found these two together in the center nesting box.  They are smart that they sit in opposite directions, that way, they can attack any hands that comes to check for eggs.

We miss their eggs.

Yesterday they both took a dust bath together.  It had been a long time since I last saw them take one.

I think that they are in cahoots with one another.

Often I catch them in the act of rolling another gal’s freshly laid egg into their nesting box.

I think these two are going to be broody forever.

Chickens DIY Projects Eggs

So You Want To Raise Backyard Chickens: 5 of a 5 Part Series

Well the flock will be one year old in June.  We have survived our first Northeast Winter and we just just hatched our own eggs.  I think it is now time that I write the final chapter in my guide to raising chickens. I’ve touched upon these topics now and then with some of the blogs over the past few months.  For some of these topics, I am going to refer to previous posts as added references for you.  I am by no means an expert in keeping chickens.  I am also positive that I am not going to cover all the ins and outs of keeping backyard chickens.  However, I do know what I have discovered along our journeys and I am happy to share them with you.

Chickens Eggs Stories from Our Nest

Candling the Eggs

A new life in the making

Yesterday, the kids and I candled the eggs for the first time. We did not entirely know what we were doing, but thought that all good farmers candle their eggs for viability, so we should probably do the same.

I went in to the garage and found a small hand held flashlight with an old fashioned bulb; none of this LED stuff. I cut a piece of cardboard into a 3″x3″ square. Then I cut into the middle of the square, a hole the size of a quarter. Next I took an empty toilet paper roll and cut it down to a 2″ tube. As the Silkie eggs are much smaller than standard eggs, I had to adjust the diameter of the toilet paper roll. I cut the tube down the side and curled it into itself until it was the diameter of a quarter. Once satisfied, I taped it into place. Finally, I taped the toilet paper tube onto the cardboard square. My contraption was built.

Quickly, I grabbed egg number one from underneath Dolly. I turned on the flashlight, placed my cardboard contraption on top, then placed the egg on top of the light. Then I saw it. The most spectacular sight of early life. A beautiful intricate spiderweb of veins spiraling outward from a dark center spot. As, I turned the egg, it all seemed to float in space, gliding along the egg’s shell. Magical.

Within a matter of 5 minutes, the kids and I candled eggs 1-6. We decided to wait a couple more days on eggs 7-9 as they are younger by a couple of days. My eight year old son was truly amazed by the experience. He asked a lot of questions about the experience and I answered them as best I could. The children are learning life’s lessons. Thanks to Dolly, patience and dedication are currently the curriculum of the month at Tilly’s Nest.

 

Here I am candling our eggs in the basement

Top Photo Credit: Chickens in the Road, Bottom Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Eggs Stories from Our Nest

Silkie Eggs

 

Assorted Silkie Eggs

Silkie eggs are so wonderfully adorable.  Here are six resting upon a dessert plate.  Two of their eggs equal one regular size eggs.  Thinking ahead to Easter, they are going to make the sweetest colored Easter eggs.   Silkie hens are wonderful additions to your flock, even though they may not lay the largest eggs, they make-up for it with their sweet docile personalities; perfect for families with children.

Caramel colored egg from Tilly

This week our seven girls laid about 3 dozen eggs.  They have been busy.  Even thought Tilly is a larger standard breed, her eggs are not very large.  I would say that they are somewhere between a Silkie and a standard breed eggs.  However, once in a while, she delights us with unique shades of brown.  This one laid yesterday is a rich deep caramel color. It is almost too pretty to eat.

Oh, by the way,  Dolly does not appear to have continued with her broodiness.   Maybe she was just having a Calgon moment!

Chickens Eggs Stories from Our Nest

Yes, There is a Difference

Over the past couple of months, I have been sharing some eggs with the neighbors and today I had my first sale.  People who see the eggs usually tell me that the eggs are beautiful.  I have to agree.  I also find the eggs’ beauty and uniqueness often bring about questions.

Supermarket eggs to the untrained eye all look the same.  They are sized, cleaned and need to pass various inspection points prior to making it into commercial egg cartons.  I can’t help but think about all those poor chickens confined to cramped cage conditions.  On the other hand, when the carton says “free range” it is not entirely what you would think.   Chickens able to roam free are housed in large warehouses with fans.  Instead of sunshine, green grass and rich soil, their feet will only experience the chill of a cement pad.  I will not even get started about their diet.  Lets just say that the chickens are fed ground up dead chickens.  Cannibalism.  They will never live longer than about 2 years.  If they are not laying eggs, then they are seen as no longer valuable.  They are culled.  I was not aware of all of these facts until I started researching chicken keeping.

Our fresh eggs are different.  As I have said before, despite variations, they all taste the same-fabulous!  People are not used to seeing things as nature presents them.  I thought our eggs should come with some basic information for those new to enjoying eggs that come from happy chickens.   Our happy chickens get fresh fruits and vegetables everyday.  Our chickens roam free on occasion and have plenty of stretching room.  They breathe fresh air and build loving relationships with each other.  They live their full natural lives.  They also eat a predominantly organic diet.

As of today, I am attaching an information sheet to all of the eggs that I both share and sell.  I hope that this proves to people that there truly is a difference.  I hope more people will start to think about their food sources and what they are feeding their families.  I know that I have. 

Here is the information we are sharing with our egg lovers:

We hope you enjoy your eggs. Here are a few facts about your  fresh eggs.

Our chickens are fed a 100% organic diet of chicken feed and scratch. They also enjoy fresh
fresh fruits and vegetables everyday.

Each of your eggs was laid by an individual chicken. Unlike store bought eggs, farm fresh eggs are all unique in size, color and shape. They do however, all taste equally delicious!

We do not wash our eggs, nor should you. The chicken laid an the egg with a protective membrane. This membrane prevents harmful bacteria from entering through the shell and also helps keep your eggs fresh by retaining moisture within the shell. Do not worry about any dried matter on the shell of your egg. The chicken has already taken care of it.

www.tillysnest.blogspot.com