Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Girls

My previous chicken post was on November 5th when the girls were just a few months old, and still pretty small.  Our coop was still coming together, and it is now mostly done, but we have a few more finishing touches that we're waiting for warmer weather to do.

This is from December, but looks pretty much the same now.

Happy Holidays!

It has not been a fun winter to raise young chickens.  Whenever the temps would drop below zero, we'd bring them into the garage.  This last time we decided they were big enough to handle the cold, so they have now spent one night outside when it dropped to -12, and they seemed to handle it just fine.   Next time we're getting baby chicks in the spring!

The girls are now about 5 and a half months old and as of last week they are all laying eggs!  When we first got them we read that it's usually at 6 months when they start, but ours are a bit advanced with the first one (our Rode Island Red) laying at less than 5 months.  Unfortunately we weren't expecting it, so didn't notice it until the following very cold morning when it was frozen solid and cracked.   But, I was so excited to see it!  I went out for a run, came back, and it was replaced with a nice, warm egg which we scrambled for dinner that night.  Yummy!

Our first egg!

A week and a half later, the Australorp laid her first.  Another week and a half later the Black Star got into the action.  Two days after that I watched the Red Star lay her first egg.  I just happened to be checking the coop for an egg before leaving for work, saw her in the nesting box sitting with her butt in the air, and I wondered if she was about to pop out an egg.  I waited a few minutes and out it fell.  Pretty cool!

We now get 3-4 eggs/day.  Frequently I'm asked what we're going to do with so many eggs.  I eat one egg a day, and when Wes has eggs for breakfast he eats 4, so Wes is rationed to 2 breakfasts of eggs during the week (plus a few eggs on the weekends) otherwise we would run out!

Our Egg Skelter for storing the eggs on the counter.
If you're curious about storing eggs outside of the fridge, read this article.

From what I've read, the breeds we have will lay 5-6 eggs per week their first year, then decrease by 1 egg per week each year. So, by the time they are 6 years old they will stop laying, but they can live to be 12 years old.  If you're thinking of raising chickens, it's something to think about and discuss, especially if you have kids that become attached to the chickens.  One day you have 4 chickens, and the next day you have 3 and a chicken cooking in the oven.  I have an idea of the timeframe for cycling out our chickens, but we'll see if I'm able to follow through...

Once they started laying we opened up the entrance to the nesting box.  We didn't want them getting comfy in there before they could use them for the intended use.  I read online about hanging curtains to keep in the warmth and to discourage the other chickens from picking on the girl laying.  So, Wes used his fancy new sewing machine and made some.  The coop just keeps getting cuter and cuter!

Coop  Curtains
I'm grateful we live in a time where I can get so much information online to learn more about raising chickens.  Our yard isn't fenced in, so we can't just let the girls roam all over.  Other than the coop, they have an 4'x12' run, and we have a 4'x4' movable 'playpen' that we'll place in our garden where we want them scavenge when we're home.  I read a blog post about a very cheap toy to make, so I gave it a try.  Today was there first day playing with it, and it went over well.  Every time I checked on them at least one was playing with it.

During the summer I love to walk outside and harvest something for the meal.  I  miss that, and this is just a little bit of a replacement which makes me happy in this long, cold winter.

The girls enjoying the sun


  1. I like your writing style. Also enjoyed the article on not refrigerating eggs.

  2. I really liked the article as well. Made me even more happy about raising our own chickens.