Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pastry Rooster

Pastry Rooster

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Snake Season

Well it is that time of year again. Snake season.

We had a sudden drop in egg production. The daily take was something like 10, 9, 10, 7, 3, 7, 4, 9.... Very strange. They usually taper off and ramp up.

Fireman Guy was tending the flock when he got a whim to collect the eggs before nightfall. He ran out of the coop screaming "Snaaaaaaake! Snaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaake!"

Doc was able to talk him down from the tree he climbed and eventually determined that there was a snake in a nest box. It looked something like this:

except that it had FOUR egg bulges.

I handled the snake much like the egg-eating snake from last year.

Ugh! Creepy.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Float Test to Check Egg Freshness

How can you be sure an egg is fresh? You can check your eggs for freshness by doing this easy Float Test.

I had to leave the flock in the care of Doctor Dolittle and Fireman Guy. Naturally, the chickens decided to become 100% productive. The kitchen counter had a mountain of eggs!

Float Test to the rescue!

How to Float Test Eggs

  1. Fill a container with more than enough water to completely cover eggs.
  2. Gently place eggs in the water and wait for them to mostly stop moving.
  3. Look at the eggs.
  4. Toss the Floaters!
  5. Floating egg is stale
  6. Save the Sinkers!
Fresh eggs sink

Why does this work? To answer this question you need to understand that eggs have an air cell in the large end and that the egg shell is porous. As an egg ages, the air carries away moisture which causes the fluid part to shrink and the air cell to get bigger. Eventually the egg contains so much air that it floats in water. When an egg reaches that stage, it is no longer good to eat.

Doc used the oldest fresh eggs for Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs. Oh the chickeny joy!

Update: This article explains role of pH as well.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

New coop for the happy couple

Ah chickeny romance!

Once upon a time, Psycho the feather-pecking pullet, was imprisoned in the newly constructed chicken run. There she lived in tragic isolation, waiting for her prince to arrive and sweep her off her feet.

Then one day, out of the blue, a brightly colored cockerel showed up at her gate. He danced his "Hey Baby" dance. He crowed his crackly Junior crow. He even graciously ran away from Mr. Big when he felt the fence might not be strong enough to hold him back.

As soon as Psycho's gate was opened, Junior made himself at home. He showed her where her food dish was. He scratched up bugs and held them up for her. He even verified the comfort and safety of her roost.

The one thing the happy couple lacked was a cozy chicken coop to call their own. Luckily the new farm hand, Fireman Guy Montag, knew how to drill and caulk.

Guy and I start construction on chickeny love shack
Doc just completed a horse fence project, so we had a lot of salvaged wood. I scrounged up hardware cloth, a 3x5 cement board, and some fence pales.
Guy caulked the gaps
I bought a pre-cut 2x2 treated plywood door from Lowes. Smart move! It is actually square!! This made installing hinges and hanging the door soooooo much easier.
Doc and Guy weatherproofed the coop after this pic
Alone at last!
We furnished the coop with a 2x6 roost, a dog bowl of layer crumbles, a water bottle, and a covered cat box for nesting. Junior liked the roost. Psycho liked the crumbles.

Oh the chickeny joy!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Egg Overload -- Making the Quiche of Awesomeness

We are swimming in eggs. Our backlog is up to 16 dozen and the pullets are not slowing down. The Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs made a dent, but we just could not eat them fast enough. Pro Tip: Peel and eat with a few drops of Cholula Hot Sauce.

But Doc is very resourceful and identified a glorious egg recipe. It was so delicious that I believe I have now experienced the human version of Chickeny Joy that comes from yogurt and oats.

Behold the Quiche of Awesomeness!
Too awesome to wait for pictures

How to Make the Quiche of Awesomeness
Thaw out two bricks of frozen spinach.
Microwave a pound of bacon. Blot and crumble.
Mix 6 eggs, 1.5 cups of heavy cream, a pinch of sea salt, and a quarter teaspoon of pepper in a blender.
Put pie crust dough (Doc used Pillsbury pre-made dough sheet) in a stoneware pie plate.
Add spinach, bacon, and a layer of smoked gouda cheese slices.
Pour the egg mix on top.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes at 375 degrees.

Oh the bacony joy!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Chicken Run

My nephews and their friend came down to Texas and  gave me an awesome gift -- a new chicken run!

Doc recently replaced all the horse fences so we had an abundance of used fence posts and wire. Glen chopped down the small forest of weeds in the target location. Russell showed me how to get stubborn staples, nails, and screws out of 15 year old posts. Bon figured out the best way to pull fence wire.

First we set the posts, parallel to the existing pasture fence. I finally got to use my post level. I also learned that very wet cement does not hold posts as firmly as I would like.
Pretty much vertical posts
Then we pulled farm fence wire, stapled it down, and screwed in 2x6 planks to support the top and block the bottom. We tried using a come-along attached to rebar to pull the fence taut, but found that levering it tight with a 2x4 against a post was much more effective.
More important to follow the ground than look pretty
Finally we tied deer netting to the top of the run using baling twine. It was getting late, so we only tied it down in a few places. Another item for my To Do List....
Deer netting to keep hawks out and chickens in
We hazed the flock into the new run. They raced across the open area, full mosey ahead. Once inside, they set to exploring.
Mr. Big leads the inspection crew
They tested the nest box for fit and comfort.
A fine place to lay an egg
And then they settled in for feasting and forage.
A Red, Oreo, and De at dinner
The flock scratched and clucked and ate pellets, crumbles, plants, bugs, and whatever else caught their fancy. Oh the chickeny joy!

UPDATE: The new run has a new coop and a new chicken!