The Hens are a Layin’

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I’m happy to report all three ladies are finally laying! I was starting to have my doubts about if they ever were going to get started again. One thing about relying on your own chicken’s eggs for all your eggy needs is that they tend to stop laying during the winter. They stopped in November and the last of the girls, Bea (the cuckoo in the back), just laid her first spring egg yesterday. It seems like December is when I use the most eggs for baking Christmas cookies and of course that is the only time of year that I need to buy them. Come summertime when the kitchen is much to hot to bake, we have three eggs per day coming from our ladies.

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Our three year old loves the chickens. He helps out in any way he can, feeding them, collecting eggs, corraling them in at the end of the day…(ahem) chasing them with a lightsaber. Boys will be boys. Here he is holding one of Mabel’s eggs (the buff) with a filaree leaf – his favorite weed to munch on.

While three hens is a perfect amount to keep us in eggs, we miss having extra eggs to give away to friend and family so we hope to add a few chicks to our coop this spring. Do you have chickens? What breeds are your favorite?

24 Comments

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24 responses to “The Hens are a Layin’

  1. We eat a lot of eggs, and love having chickens, so I think about 6 works well for us. We also supply friends and neighbors with eggs.

    As to the molting dearth problem, you know eggs freeze beautifully, right? You can have your own eggs year-round.

  2. carolinemack

    that’s one HUGE egg in the first photo!😉
    I would love to have hens, they are such funny little things. But I don’t have the room, nor if I’m honest, the inclination for the work involved. And I’d hate them to die on me. Lovely though.

  3. carolinemack

    you can freeze eggs? Did NOT know that! Do they no expand out of the shell?

  4. Ben

    I have 7 Barred Rocks. This is my first time raising chickens. They are almost 9 weeks old so I have a long way to for eggs!

    I didn’t realize you could freeze eggs!

  5. I’d love to have chickens *sigh*. Someday. Beautiful chooks and eggs!

  6. Hi Sonoma just thought I’d send a couple of ideas along. First, you could do your christmas baking right before the hens quit laying. If it’s Fall it might not be so hot. Then freeze the baked goods until you want them for the holidays. They thaw out just fine and taste like fresh baked. Also I did some on-line research and found out you can freeze them and you can store them in parrifin and other stuff.

    HOW TO FREEZE EGGS:

    freeze them now, while they are fresh. Just as you would not freeze older fruits or vegetables, you should not freeze aged eggs.
    But you cannot freeze eggs in their shells – they will break as the egg expands. You can either separate the whites and yolks and freeze the whites as they are, in an airtight container with a little room for expansion. Then freeze the yolk on its own which could be hard and pasty after it is thawed, however, if you add a teaspoon of salt, honey or sugar to each cup of yolks being frozen it will help. (There are approximately a dozen yolks in a cup, and they need to be broken up and mixed thoroughly with the salt, honey, or sugar.)
    If you want to keep the yolk and white together, just scramble the eggs and add the salt or sweetener. There are about five whole eggs in a cup. You can store them in bulk, or put 3 tablespoons in each compartment of an ice-cube tray, freeze them, then collect them in a freezer bag.
    Each egg cube is approximately one whole egg. If you freeze whites and yolks separately, use 1 tablespoon of yolk and 2 tablespoons of white to reconstitute one whole egg.

    The eggs will need to be defrosted before you use them, and the time will vary depending on the quantity you are defrosting. Count on a good 9 hours in the refrigerator. You should use the frozen eggs within six months.

    label the containers of yolks or blended eggs as being salty or sweet, so that you don’t have a huge disappointment when you get around to using your bounty of eggs.

    ANOTHER WAY…

    To preserve eggs it is only necessary to close the pores of the shells. This may be done by dipping them in melted paraffine, or packing them in salt, small ends down; or pack them in a keg and cover them with brine; or pack them in a keg, small ends down and cover them with lime water; this not only protects them from the air, but acts as a germicide.
    Eggs should not be packed for winter use later than the middle of May
    or earlier than the first of April. Where large quantities of the yolks are used, the whites may be evaporated and kept in glass bottles or jars. Spread them out on a stoneware or granite plate and allow them to evaporate at the mouth of a cool oven. When the mixture is perfectly dry, put it away. This powder is capable of taking up the same amount of water that has been evaporated from it, and may then be used the same as fresh whites.

    THE FOLLOWING WEBSITE HAS DOZENS OF SUGGESTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN TRIED AND TESTED FOR STORING EGGS

    http://www.oldandsold.com/articles11/miscellaneous-recipes-13.shtml

    I had a brother who lived in Sonoma for awhile.

    • asonomagarden

      Thanks for the freezing info Patty. I had heard that you can freeze them before, however I haven’t tried it. Maybe this summer when we are full of eggs I’ll give it a shot.

  7. You might also want to go on-line and find out how to test eggs for freshness. I don’t want to be responsible for any of you getting sick. Do you know how to do on-line research? I’m at anebaystore@comcast.net

  8. Jo

    We JUST started with chickens last Saturday. We bought 2 Amerucaunas, a bunch of Barred Plymouth Rocks, Buff Orpingtons, and Rhode Island Reds. They totaled 26. We lost one on Thursday night. Sad, but thankfully not tragic. Daddy and our oldest (9) are outside working on the new coop now. AFTER a decent peanut butter cookie break. We are working towards being self-sufficient and meat and eggs are the next step of that process. We’ll be getting some guineas in a couple of weeks.

    • asonomagarden

      Congratulations Jo on your new chickens. I think an Amerucauna is the kind we want to get next. They lay blue eggs, right? I would like some blue.

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  10. Having chickens seems so quaint. I don’t know that I can validate having them though. The effort and expense may outweigh the benefits.

    What are the 3 best things about having chickens?

    What are the 3 worst things about having chickens?

    • asonomagarden

      Maybelline, the three best things? 1. They are the funniest animals and great pets. 2. They are super easy to take care of. 3. The eggs you get are the healthiest and cheapest eggs around. The worst? 1. You have to clean out their coop every once in a while (makes for great compost though). 2. They eat your seedlings if you let them roam free 3. Sometimes they die on you and that’s tough!

  11. VT Garderner

    Good Morning!
    I can’t wait to have chickens! We will be building a house next year and I really want to ask the builders to make a chicken coop while they’re at it:)
    Is it true that you don’t need a rooster? What happens when you order your chicks and they accidentally send a rooster?
    VT

    • asonomagarden

      VT, you don’t need a rooster. When we originally got ours 2.5 years ago, we picked out five chicks and one of them was a rooster. We lived with him for about nine months and then he got aggressive with our son, so he became dinner.🙂

  12. Here is my post about how my chickens did this winter. They are so much fun! http://www.notthejetset.net/2010/03/eggs-anyone.html

  13. We keep chickens in a cold winter climate and get eggs in spite of the cold. Try adding a little apple cider vinegar to their water. This helps quite a bit with egg production.

  14. We love our chickens and have had chickens most of our 36 years here at Brookfarm on Sonoma Mountain. Right now we have eclectic mix of Rhode Island Red, Barred Plymouth Rock, a big black hen, a silky rooster (a gift from my brother), 2 Auracanas (green eggs!), and another pretty tan and black hen from my brother. You will find that as they get older the molt time when not laying gets longer and longer each winter. When this last batch of hens were younger, they hardly even stopped laying at all.

    We love our eggs and love sharing them with friends, neighbors, and family. With nine hens, we should probably be selling some!

    Debbie

  15. Love the chickens! I don’t have my own, but my close friends do. Fresh eggs from them each week! And every now and then I get to take care of the chickens. Very fun. They’ve got 15 now. Rooster became dinner after becoming aggressive. Another suffered a hawkish death.

  16. I love the picture of the egg in his hand! I also love brown eggs. Now I’m hungry.🙂

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  18. WE have a motley backyard crew as well of six chickens- a barred rock, 2 Americanas, a CocoMoran, a silver-laced Wyandotte, and a Rhode Island red. Some of them layed an egg ever couple days all winter! No artificial lights. I guess some chickens are better at winter laying than others. We have a just turned 6 year old boy and 3 year old boy as well. Our older guy is in 4H in the poultry club. In between chasing each other about with light sabers they learn all about chickens.
    I can’t wait to see how wonderful the chicken manure makes my compost and thus my veggies! I wish my 6 year old was as great a helper as yours but it seems they mostly like taking rides in the wheelbarrow or getting dirty.lol.

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