Did you know that chickens have earlobes? Well they do and some are very colorful! You might also find it interesting that chickens will lay a certain color egg based on the color of their earlobes. This is one of the most remarkable facts about chickens that I know. Chickens have tiny holes in the side of their head covered by feathers. Below, dangle their earlobes.
No two eggs are ever alike. I now appreciate the beauty of each and every egg produced by our flock. The eggs themselves are all unique. Even eggs laid by the same breed have variations.
Since raising backyard chickens, I have paid closer attention to what we are eating. I carefully inspect each egg that is laid, guaranteeing that it is not cracked or pecked. I notice tiny little bumps encased in the egg’s shell, like a grain of sand from the beach. Some brown eggs are lightly speckled with flecks of white. Some eggs are rough and some are smooth like glass. Some are pointy and some are very round. I find beauty in their creations.
We still supplement our egg supply with ones from the store. I have noticed that if I look closely enough at those eggs, I can tell that they are from different chickens. Society has trained us that eggs should look a certain way, all uniform in size, shape and color. In fact, society goes much more beyond eggs. (That subject is another blog in itself.) Supermarket eggs appear to all be identical. However, everyday I am reminded that nature celebrates uniqueness in all of it’s creations. I have found no matter what the size, color, or shape of our eggs, they are all equally delicious!
|Our 3 year old holds our first big egg next to a silkie egg|
“Thank you Tilly, Thank you Dolly.” I heard as I was cracking the eggs into the dish. My daughter was at the front door staring out over the blanket of white at the coop. Today I was so surprised when I was out clearing snow and attending to the chickens. I did not think that I would find any eggs today.
It was cold last night. It snowed like crazy and there was about a foot of snow blanketing the coop and run. I cleared off the run and coop, changed the water, gave the flock scratch and then opened up the nesting boxes. There it was; the most gorgeous large brown egg. I’m not sure if she laid it in a nesting box or on the edge. When I discovered it, it was in the shavings close to the nesting box. I guess another chicken could have pushed it out due to curiosity. Maybe she even pushed it out. It was her first egg.
Truthfully, I am not sure which chicken it came from, but my kids were thrilled to see it and told me Tilly laid it. As the eggs cooked in the pan, the kids were jumping up and down, dancing and singing about the eggs they were about to eat. Fresh food is really something to get excited about. There is something to be said about having fresh eggs delivered in the morning despite the weather outside.
|Our first egg|
I went out to the coop this morning and this is what I found, a small Silkie Bantam egg! I think that Dolly laid it because I saw her sitting in the nesting box this morning. I am very excited! The egg is absolutely adorable and about half the size of a regular egg. I can’t wait to check for more tomorrow.
THE FIRST SIX WEEKS
I think that you will be utterly amazed at the pace in which these adorable little chickens grow! Don’t blink because you will miss it! Take the time to enjoy them. They should start to develop a pecking order. Every flock has one. By watching your flock, you will be able to determine things such as; Who eats first? Who eats last? Who seems like an outsider? Who sleeps next to whom? Who plays together? Who is the smartest one? Who is the fastest? Your answers will help to determine their pecking order. The idea of a pecking order is hardwired into every chicken from days when they had to survive in the wild. Each chicken will have a role. These roles are fought for or settled on depending on how the chickens jockey for position. There is not much you can do to change it. Once a true order is established, it should not change. The only exception to this is if you add or subtract anyone from the flock. Of note, roosters are not part of the pecking order. Roosters are separate from the hens in this manner. If you have more than one rooster, there will be an alpha rooster and the other will be submissive to him. They may fight now and then and sometimes it is deadly. The rooster’s role is to be a protector of the flock and to fertilize eggs. If a predator attacks, it is the rooster that will sacrifice himself for the sake of the girls.
THE ART OF CHICKEN HOMEMAKING/ CREATING A BROODER
As the arrival of your chicks quickly approaches, you will need to create a brooder. This will be their home for about the next 6 weeks. For their first week of life, the chicks will need the brooder temperature to be about 95 degrees F. This is maintained by your heat lamp. As each week passes, the temperature is lowered by 5 degrees until you reach the outdoor equivalent or they are fully feathered. When we had our chicks delivered in June, temperatures were already in the 70s outside. At six weeks of age, they transitioned outside. Our mid-July temperatures were in the mid-eighties at that point. We only used the heat lamp with the 250 watt bulb for about 2 weeks. After that, I used a regular household light bulb of various wattages in the heat lamp. Some people create brooders in their bathtubs, living space, or sheds. Just remember that chickens are messy, sometimes stinky and produce dust in this stage. Thus, we set our brooder up in the garage.
So, how do I go about this, you ask? Well if you’re like me you read everything you can get your hands on, check the internet and dive head first into something figuring you’ll just troubleshoot along the way. However, there is some planning to optimize your chicken experiences that will make life easier. So, lets start at the beginning. How do I get the chickens?