OUCH!

There comes a time in (nearly) every girl’s life when she just has to drop everything and blog.

This is one of those moments.

That, people, is a BIG egg.

How big, ask you? (I knew you would, so I hauled out the kitchen scale.)

THAT big:

Yes, that says 4 ounces.

FOUR stinking ounces.

Poor little hen. Hope she’s okay… Didn’t see anyone having keeled over or limping along or anything….

Owie mama!

Okay – back to the many other things I ought to be doing…

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free range eggs | Cage-Free? Free-Range? How Egg Carton Claims Relate to Salmonella Risks | Rodale News

free range eggs | Cage-Free? Free-Range? How Egg Carton Claims Relate to Salmonella Risks | Rodale News

Does the whole egg label thing confuse you?

It should.

What one thing seems to mean may not – at all – have anything to do with the generally accepted understanding.

Read this article!  It will help make sense of the whole mess.

If you buy eggs from us – you know without a doubt that our girls are pastured and allowed to be chickens!

Not only that – because our eggs are so popular – when you buy eggs here the eggs you receive are rarely more than 24 to 48 hours since being laid.  That’s fresh!

So…  pay attention to where your eggs came from.  Just because they’re cheap doesn’t neccessarily mean they’re good for you!

85, People! 85!!

We have chickens.

Yeah – I know. You know.

We have a lot of chickens.

More than the average, most likely.

Particularly when you consider that we’re just a stone’s throw from downtown Portland.

As you may recall, we also have a bit of an egg business going on here, as well. Our son BiL was the catalyst for that, and the need to increase our chicken population – oh, about a year ago.

So, increase the size of the flock we did.

Funny thing, though, even with 32 regularly laying hens, the most we’ve ever collected in a day is 24.

Wierd.

It didn’t take long to come to a conclusion…

The Ameracaunas are horrible layers!

We have FIVE Ameracaunas. We know three of them are green egg layers, one an almost pinkish-beige color, and the last a cream with beigeish dots.

On average, we get a green egg every other day.

ONE.

Crappy layers.

It was disappointing, really, because we like them so much – they are really personable hens. But dang – that makes them the least consistent layers of the flock… or so we thought.

Remember these little girls?

The newest chicks?

Well, the other night – the first night they were allowed to go outside and explore the great big world that is our yard – several of them did NOT come home to roost at the appropriate time.

Being the paranoid Mom type girl that I am, I had a little bit of a freak out. I called out the troops – we searched high and low – and lo and behold! – we found they’d gone UNDER the coop and had holed up there. NOT okay. NOT warm enough. And well – hello – racoon food in no time at all! So we got flashlights, formed a battle plan, and eventually got them all rounded up.

It was during that rescue mission that I had occasion to get down nearly to the ground (which is no small feat given I still have an open surgical incision!), shone the flashlight under the coop – and what did I see?

EGGS.

A lot of eggs.

Like more than just a couple.

Good grief!

Well – I reported my findings to John, and so we decided that today – Saturday – would be the day to deal with the stash of eggs under the coop.

So that’s how our day started…

You must have the correct tools.

A bucket. I love that grabber – I got it when I had my hip replaced a few years ago – awesome thing to have around! And gloves – very, very important to wear gloves on this type of endeavor.

Here’s what we found:

Can you see them?

I told you there were more than just a few.

Lord have mercy!

Any guesses on how many eggs of questionable age and quality were under that there coop?

EIGHTY-FIVE, PEOPLE!

EIGHTY-STINKING-FIVE!

About 80% of them were green, by the way.

Guess where my Ameracaunas have been laying!

My first question for these hens is this: How the heck can you lay in that small a space? Good grief!

My second is: What were you thinking?!

So – that, of course, meant it was time to make sure there was NO way possible to get back under the coop. My husband IS amazing.

In no time he had just the right solution in place.

SO!

Should be interesting, shouldn’t it?

Will they start using the nest boxes to lay their eggs in? (Please, Lord!)

What will our egg count be?

Will we finally not run out of eggs and have to stop turning people away eggless?!

And – because I can – here’s a gratuitous picture of cute baby chicks playing in the coop!

I really do owe them thanks – if they hadn’t gotten stuck underneath the coop we might never have found that stash of eggs! YUCK!

Catching up…

What a couple of weeks it’s been!

First – my desktop computer – it croaked. No warning whatsoever. One minute it was working beautifully – the next, dead as a doornail. Thankfully I have a rocking warranty on it, and so I called the Dell folks, spent copious amounts of time on the phone with tech support, they had me try pretty much everything short of standing on my head and juggling oranges – and deduced they needed to send out replacement parts and a tech. They overnighted parts, the tech arrived with the parts – I held my breath in anticipation – would it work?!

NO.

So… the tech calls tech support, reports the outcomes, they decide to send MORE parts. But, of course, it’s the weekend before a major holiday, and so a WHOLE WEEK goes by before said tech calls again and reports he’s got the parts and wants to come by. I said, “By all means!” I mean HELLO! I’m addicted to my computer. May as well cut off my left foot without it! So he comes by, he replaces said parts – I held my breath in anticipation – would it work?

NO!

EGAD! So then they say – “Um… well… We’re basically gonna have to replace your computer!” Which, in theory, sounds great – right? New computer, 2 years into the rocking warranty. (Thank you Jesus that the hard drive is in good order!) Right?! But get this: 2 to 3 weeks to receive said replacement computer.

UGH!

So, I’m pretty much just limping along on the laptop. THANK YOU LORD JESUS for the laptop! Oh, and the wireless network! BUT – all of my files – everything – are on the hard drive of that desktop, and well, yeah – it’s been a little bit traumatic.

So forgive me for my absence – not having the desktop has sent me for more than one loop! (Okay – yeah, I get it! I’m an addict – a computer addict! I know! I just don’t see anything to do other than embrace it!)

THEN…

The laundry room sink – original to the house (aka VERY old) – you know, the old cement kind? Cracked. Big time. And then a bit of a flood ensued. And the landlord had to be called, and stuff had to be replaced. Praise the Lord for good landlords!

THEN….

The washing machine broke. Had to get that fixed. Praise the Lord that happened on a pay day – and while it hurt to pay the $163 to fix it – it got fixed. Cause, honestly, I’m about as addicted to my washing machine as I am my computer! Thank you Jesus!

THEN…

Brace yourself…


(John visiting me in the hospital this summer.)

Remember how I was pretty much sick all summer long? (Well, honestly, it was since April 24th, to be specific.) And how I was in and out of the hospital May to September? And how the last time I was discharged from the hospital they had me go NPO (nothing by mouth) and sent me home with IV antibiotic infusions five times a day and TPN (IV nutrition) for 16 hours each day?

Yeah, I remember, too.

Well, on the 18th of November (the day the computer crashed) I went for a follow-up Upper GI. Guess what we learned!!

ALL.

HEALED.

UP.

THANK YOU JESUS!!!

So, 9 weeks to the day from the time I went NPO (September 19th, 2009) I took my first sips.

It was soup broth – nothing earth shaking – unless, of course, you’ve just spent 9 weeks ingesting NOTHING! I spent that Friday through Tuesday doing liquids, and then on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, the wonderful Dr. Zelko (my amazing surgeon here in town who takes such great care of me) called and gave me the go ahead to eat whatever the heck I wanted to! I like Dr. Zelko so much! J

Great timing, huh?

Needless to say, Thanksgiving was full of lots of reasons to give thanks!


(Great-Grandma’s Toffee Cookies – for Thanksgiving, of course! Famiily tradition lives on!)

We had a great get together with family early in the day, and had the great privilege of getting to have a second Thanksgiving celebration in the evening with our very dear friends.

I got off easy – I brought the dinner rolls! I will concede they were pretty darn yummy.

Oh! And my African violet – which I’ve never had success keeping alive in the past – did this:

THEN…

In the midst of all of this – life has continued to go on.

Like…

Jonathan (the goofy kid on the right)… drum roll, please…

MADE THE JV2 BASKETBALL TEAM!

Woo Hoo!

We are SO proud of him!

His first game was Tuesday night – they creamed the opposition – 68 to 30-something. Go team!

And like…

Our girl Jessica – who unbelievably enough is a Senior this year (How?! Where did the time go?!) has…

  1. Been accepted to one college.
  2. Gotten her applications, essays, scores, etc. submitted to all of the rest of the colleges she wanted to apply to.
  3. Concluded she will likely go nuts waiting to hear the outcomes of said applications!

I, on the other hand, will try not to freak out about the fact that my BABY is in our home for the last Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years’, etc. as a kid… She will soon be out on her own. Sniff… I miss her already.

And…

William continues to be William – or ahem – BiL, as his friends know and love him – and give us all great cause to smile – and laugh out loud – just being who he is – a really, really cool kid.

In the Hip Chick Chronicles part of life, the 2009 Chicks are growing up!

Our flock has settled right at 30 girls. We were averaging about 10 or 12 eggs a day until we kept them shut in the chicken yard for about a week and taught them WHERE they are supposed to lay their eggs. We had a 20 egg day the other day – amazing!

Crayon has recovered from her molt and is no longer naked! Good thing, too – it’s been downright cold, and is supposed to be bordering on frigid in the coming week!

Scarlet – at the grand old age of 8 months old – has decided she wants to be a Mommy. She’s been broody for nearly a week now. If it were summer I’d buy fertilized eggs and let her set them. But the dead of winter? I think not.

Scarlet, by the way, was once deemed our special needs chick. If I had my desktop here I could upload a photo that showed you how she got her name. As just a wee thing she somehow got the top part of her beak caught somewhere – and it pretty much ripped off – and when we found her – she was all bloody. One of the kids – a boy, I’d venture! – said we should name her Scarlet. Somehow it stuck. At first we worried quite a lot about her – she was underweight compared to the other girls her age. But she’s compensated JUST FINE, thank you very much. She’s actually quite sweet and I believe would be great Mommy material. I keep wondering if we should have her bottom beak trimmed, though – it seems so weird that her beak is so uneven!

She’s a Cuckoo Maran, by the way, who lays the most gorgeous deep chocolate brown eggs – when she’s not broody! The copper coloring along her head and neck is so pretty. There is such a thing as a Copper Cuckoo Maran – I’ve wondered if that’s what she is!

AND, maybe most potentially world-rocking of all…

It has become quite obvious that we need additional income.

We’ve scrimped.

We’ve eliminated perks.

We’ve given stuff up.

And it’s just not enough.

So I’m looking for a job.

I actually got called for an interview. We’ll see what – if anything – comes of it. It was for a wonderful place, with very nice people, doing a job that I believe I would be very good at. I could be quite content with said job!

So lots to thank the Lord for.

As always.

Gosh, it’s good to be His!

Fresh Eggs

John got the sign up today, advertising the fact that we have eggs for sale.

We’ve been selling eggs for quite some time. People stop by all the time and ask if we have any, and if we have enough excess, then we sell them. If you’ll recall, William decided some time ago that he should have an egg business – and so we ordered chicks to augment our flock this spring.

Said chicks have been laying – and getting their “sea legs” so to speak, starting with the cutest little tiny 1 ounce eggs, and most are now up to regular sized eggs. Most days we’re getting a dozen eggs. Today was a 15 egg day. We’ve got five dozen extra eggs in the fridge – and available for sale.

Wow – it’s actually happening!

The morning started off with a lady from the neighborhood stopping by to buy eggs. A good start!

Today as I was washing dishes and looking out onto the chicken yard, I was struck by the fact that our baby chicks are nothing of the sort any longer – in fact, they’ve grown into some really beautiful pullets. So, of course, I had to grab the camera and get a few pictures.

This one I’m excited about. This is the lone black Minorca that we have left. She is SO beautiful. I don’t know if you can tell at all – but she’s so black that she has an amazing green sheen to her feathers. I love the contrast between her feathers, her crazy floppy comb and wattles, and her white ears. Yes, she lays white eggs. It’s very difficult to get a picture of her – she’s pretty skittish. So I was pretty thrilled to get this one!

And I know I’ve said it before, but I just love the Blue Anadalusians. Here’s a not super clear picture of one – but I think this one is really a beautiful bird!

All of the Blues are, really – but the lovely deep hue of her plumage is really stunning.

I realized today that there really is no distinction – size wise, anyway – between the big girls and the 2009 chicks. When they’re out scratching around – you really can’t tell which is which, except for the breed differentials.

And great news! Crayon isn’t quite so naked any more. She’s getting her feathers in! She still looks pretty funky – but she definitely looks better!

And here’s a not very clear picture of Mystery – the black Ameraucana. She’s so pretty – and also very skittish – so it’s hard to get a picture of her.

On a different note – my Aero Garden is growing amazingly! Take a look:

See that? I’m not sure if you can – but those are little buds that are coming out!

It’s been so fun to watch these plants thrive and develop! It’s been nearly a month since they were planted, and they say we should expect tomatoes to eat in another month.

And amazingly – there are still a few flowers blooming in the yard. Not the best picture – but it’s still a beautiful little poppy! I’m definitely going to plant a whole bunch more poppies next year – I’ve loved them!

All in all – I’m adjusting to the fact that fall is here. It really is beautiful – even if it isn’t my favorite time of year! J

Home again!

One has only to spend 17 days in the hospital (two stays) over the course of a month (first admission 7/23/09 – second discharge 8/23/09) to really come to appreciate one simple fact:

Home is precious.

I’m so glad to be home.

I’m about a weak as a kitten, but I truly feel the beginnings of well. I haven’t been there for a while.

I have a lot of work ahead of me- remembering to eat (even though I don’t have much of an appetite), remembering to rest (probably the hardest thing), resigning myself to doing what I CAN, not what I feel I OUGHT to do. Can put a kink in a girl’s preconceived ideas of doing stuff!

And just in case you didn’t know.

I adore my husband.


(John holding William – Oregon Coast, 1997. William was just 6 months old.)

He’s so kind. Patient. Loving. Compassionate. Conscientious. You know – one of those guys who do the right thing – even when it’s not the easy thing to do. A guy who has the character of God deeply ingrained in his heart. His smile and laugh just make my heart glad. I’m just so thankful to God for the great honor of being John’s wife. Something I truly do not deserve. But God…

So – guess what I did when I got home from the hospital yesterday afternoon! (Okay, after I checked email.) I grabbed the camera, headed out to the yard, found a place to plant myself, and I took a few pictures.

Stuff happens when you’re away from home!

The babies stopped looking like babies and look more kinda like awkward teenagers now! At first we thought we had one Dominique and one Silver Laced Wyandotte. Now we don’t know. I’m hoping they are two different breeds – cause one of these might be a roo if not!

Note the differences:

Birdhouse gourds galore have grown!

And so exciting!

Someone has started to lay the cutest little white eggs!

They weigh in right at 1 ounce each.

Kinda piddly compared to BB’s 3 oz eggs!

Here’s my guess as to WHO the layer of said adorable eggs is:

One of the Blue Andalusians. Isn’t she pretty?

So – it’s good to be home.

Happy sigh.

I refuse to think about the fact that it’s only two short weeks before my kids head back to school again. I am SO not ready for that yet. Jessica comes home from camp tomorrow late afternoon – after a summer away. She will be a senior in High School this year. I want every moment with her possible.

Off I go to rest.

My Husband, The Genius

If no one has told you yet, let me be the first.

Chicken keeping is addictive.

When you first start making your plans to add chickens to your world, you might start by saying something like this: “Three, yes. Three chicks would be the perfect place to start.”

Of course, then you go to the local feed store in Springtime and see the beyond adorable chicks. On the way home you find yourself thinking thoughts like, “Eight is probably a better number… Wouldn’t be that much more room to house…”

How you get from eight to twenty-two (including roosters that had to go away) is anyone’s guess!

Sufficeit to say that by the time you settle down to fifteen hens and NO roosters, things seem, well, comfortable.

Here’s the thing, though. When you’re into chicken keeping, you’re pretty much sure everyone else ought to join you in this wonderful pursuit! So, when a friend happens to mention that she’s been dreaming of starting her own flock one day – all she wants is some started pullets… You help!

Over the course of time things happen. Five go to friends. One dies from some mystery malady. Two get eaten by neighbor dogs. One goes broody.

Before you know it, you’re down to just four or five eggs a day.

That, my friends, is just not enough!

Especially not when you’ve got BiL’s Farm Fresh Eggs to supply!

So – you might start saying things like, “Well… if William is really going to do an egg business this coming year, just how many chicks should we order?”

You, of course, temper those statements with things like, “We probably shouldn’t get chicks – at least not this year. I mean I’m going to have major orthopedic surgery!” (This would be why you’re up to midnight the night before said orthopedic surgery placing your chick order!)

So… somewhere along the line an assumption is made that yes, some chicks should be ordered. Someone might have said ten chicks. Someone else might have said, maybe 12 chicks. And somewhere along the line the order gets morphed into – oh, thirty chicks!

Thirty adorable chicks.

Five Blue Andalusians (one was a rooster).

Five Speckled Sussex.

Five Delawares (two went missing, one came back).

Five Cuckoo Marans.

Five Amaracaunas (one was a rooster).

Five Minorcas – three buff (one’s a rooster, one died), and two black.

See? I NEEDED thirty chicks! J

And, accordingly, we needed a larger coop and run! (Particularly in light of our new neighbor dogs! UGH!)

This is not a job for the faint of heart! It might even require some blood, sweat, and tears! Or at least a blister or two!

John, my genius husband, has designed and drafted plans for the expansion.

Have I mentioned recently what a genius he is? Cause if not – let me just be sure to keep you in the know – he IS! Seriously!

The coop was the first structure he ever built.

It’s been nothing short of amazing and phenomenal. Many people have stopped to remark how nicely it’s built, and what a great design it is.

Yes, like I said – genius!

So, my genius husband has drafted – as in AutoCAD drafted – the plans for the addition. They’re pretty cool looking. But I’m thinking the built-out model will be EVEN cooler still!

This new addition will more than double the space of the coop! This wall will have six new nest boxes.

The new big door will open into the expanded, new, and improved chicken run.

And my brilliant husband even thought to build in a spot for a fan – for the hot days of summer. Last thing we need is a chicken with heat stroke!

I love this door! He built this all by himself! Isn’t it cool?

And here you can see that the cattle fencing has been stretched to it’s new anchor on the corner of the addition. The girls are going to like this so much!

And here’s a peek at the new chicken yard addition – an actual area with grass for them to hang out in! They’ve already tried it out and seem to think it’s a great idea!

So – now we wait. We’ve got 25 chicks who will begin laying sometime around mid-August. John’s got a schedule all worked out to make sure everything is finished up and all of the new nest boxes are in place in plenty of time for that!

In the meantime – we’re on chick hatch watch:

Shelly is on day 20 on Sunday. It takes 21 days of a hen setting consistently on her eggs for them to start hatching out. I’ll be sure to report any signs of progress!

So that’s it from Hip Chick Chronicles central!

They got cold feet!

When I went to check the temperature in the coop this morning it was all the way up to 30 degrees! Woo Hoo! A veritible heat wave!

So I dressed up in my long johns and jeans and warm socks and sweater and coat and hat and scarf and mittens and went out to get them some clean warm water and check the food and gather eggs.

Yesterday when I went out they wanted NOTHING to do with coming outdoors. Today, however, they seemed somewhat interested in doing some exploration. So I decided to let them out.

I got the water out, scattered some corn, and let them out to explore. The California Whites were the most adventurous – they made it all the way to the big run – and then stood there on one foot looking like they didn’t know why the other foot was so stinking cold!

A couple of the Welsumers decided to follow the California Whites on the corp of discovery. They weren’t amused. It didn’t take them long to figure out that they could get a LOT further if they would fly places – keeping their cold little tootsies out of the cold, cold snow!

So, as I went about my business, checking on everyone, bringing out scratch, etc. I failed to realize that the girls were way not amused any longer. In fact, they were shivering like crazy!

So I quickly herded them back up, carried them one by one back into the coop, and then transferred the water to the interior of the coop.

They were so happy to be back in their little warm coop! I’m thinking they won’t be venturing out into the snow again in the near future!

Oh! Interesting note. In all of the days preceding this weather event the 14 girls had been laying between 10 and 13 eggs a day. The day it snowed – 10 eggs. Yesterday – 9 eggs. So far this morning – 6 eggs (and it’s still fairly early). It will be interesting to see if their production is impacted by the weather.