So…here we are three years later into starting our chicken flock. My, how times have changed! Let me tell you, if you’ve heard chickens are addicting? True story!
We started with seven sweeties. We made a huge mistake naming them as babies with no feathers because, these birds are hard to tell apart once their feathers come in! (We now use different colored leg bands to help us determine age and dates of introduction)
I can’t believe it’s been 2 1/2 years since I purchased a single egg from the grocery store. This is my favorite investment so far. We started with seven and are now up to almost 30! Most of our hens are in a coop with two roosters. New roosters get “booted” out of the coop and are left to free range. Don’t worry, they aren’t without their own hens. We decided to incubate some eggs twice and let them free range with the roosters after the attempt to integrate them into the flock didn’t go so well.
Now, I’m going to tell you some things most chicken experts would probably cringe about. After two rounds of incubating, my husband decided to “help” the baby chicks get out of the egg a little quicker. I’m on the fence about this one but, he swears he’s helping them survive. If he thinks they are taking too long to get out of the shell (after we see it start to peck its way out) he will gently tap the shell with my tweezers and pull some shell off. He delivered this fine hen and she’s now starting to lay.
The trouble with helping chickens is some of those he saved aren’t exactly the strongest or very large. I’m sure natural selection would have taken a few from the start but, with a little patience and perseverance, we’ve had more of a success rate with incubating than when we left the chicks on their own to break free and hatch.
Isn’t she cute? This is about an hour or two after the shell was off and she’s starting to dry out. Did I say she? I meant HE. It’s funny, we struggled after we had our first seven hens begin to lay and we really wanted a rooster. We bought a few more which all turned out female and we eventually broke down and purchased a year old rooster. We wanted more eggs and the capability of replenishing our layers when necessary without the need of chicken days at Tractor Supply. We’ve produced about 5 roosters from incubating and only 3 hens. The last round we went for, we ended up with three roosters and two hens.
The breeds we chose were Rhode Island Reds and Americauna’s (The ducks aren’t with the chickens anymore). We chose them for their egg production and to be honest, I see on average more green eggs than brown. I still love the brown eggs so, we’ve introduced more Rhode Islands this past year. (We tried Cornish Rocks last year but, they got so big so fast, most of them died of heart attacks before we could get them in the pot! They seemed so unnatural because of their size, we chose not to proceed with this breed.) I also love the Our daily average with 25+ hens is about 2 dozen a day during peak months and 1 dozen a day during the winter months. I’m totally OK with this yield! It makes getting creative with eggs a mission rather than an option. Here’s where we are going to learn something together! Salt curing egg yolks! YES!!!!
My gift to us? Valerie’s salt cured egg yolks! Believe me, you’ll burn out on scrambled, fried, omelettes, pickled eggs, hard boiled, deviled, quiche, etc… Let’s try this together. Our challenge to you? Try her recipe and comment below. If you’re really smart, you’ll follow her blog too because, she’s just that awesome!
Above photos are courtesy LivingMyDreamLifeOnTheFarm
I am making these Sunday and plan on another post about the results later. I always give credit where it is due and Valerie deserves all the credit for this one. I love egg on salad but, I’m thinking how much better this will taste than the standard hard boiled. The entire point here is, buy your own chickens! Even if you have two, you’ll be amazed at the egg quality difference between store bought and fresh.