I’ve had the chickens for about a fortnight now, and I’ve been the eggs right along. You just can’t beat rooster enhanced free-range chicken eggs. They’ve been molting. They’ve had the trauma of moving. I’ve been feeding them laying mash and thowing them some fresh chickweed and some leftovers from the soup kitchen, not to mention three-eyed salamanders as I find them:
Actually, that’s two salmanders! I’m surprised that one has been laying since day one. Another started yesterday. These two use the boxes pictured here:
Another one, sporadically, will lay an egg in the dirt, so that all sorts of things get attached to the egg. Compare the one from the nest and the one from the dirt:
Is there any way to stop them from laying in the dirt? At any rate, I’m told that washing an egg is out of the question when they are so dirty, as eggs are totally porous. So, how does get them a bit cleaner? Is there a trick to this? I just took a stick and scraped this off and then just cracked it open over the frying pan. Probably not a good idea.
I’ve only gotten one egg that was laid in the dirt to the frying pan, as the shells of the eggs from that chicken are very, very fragile. I do have some oyster shells, but I don’t know how to feed this to them. I suppose I mix it with thier normal feed? Is there a ratio for this?
Anyway, look at these two, who dig relatively deep holes:
What in the world!? One digs fiendishly, while the other digs her face in the flying dirt under the other chicken, I suppose to look for any stray bugs. And yet, that’s where I also found an egg! I wish there was a way to get them all to lay in the nests and not in the dirt…
It’s a guess, but probably the other hens will start laying any day. I might just have enough to give away to the soup kitchen, though I’ll also be able to use the eggs in bread and all sorts of things once I get to know how to cook more than hot water!
UPDATE: From an email:
I’ll preface this by saying I’ve zero actual experience in raising chickens. However, my older brother (who is actually an economist working in Washington DC) lives on a small suburban farm-ette. They have a few chickens out in the barn, and a couple of yrs ago they had a problem with black snakes. The snakes would crawl quite slowly into the nest, so as not to disturb the chickens, and then would just as quietly eat an egg or two while nice and warm under the hen. Amazing ingenuity on the part of the snake! (Kinda reminds me of how Satan stealths into our lives and does quiet damage in our souls when we’re least aware of it, don’t you think?)
Anyway, watch out for snakes when you’re reaching in for the eggs. My brother always lifts the hen up off the nest so he can see if anything other than eggs is there. And I don’t know whether chicken poop on an egg is that big a problem, when you consider the part of the chicken the egg is coming out of anyway. But I’d probably wash the egg off with some cold water at least. Can’t hurt.
God bless, and know you’ve been added to my prayers daily along with my prayers for a few other priests I pray for.
From another email, from a non-native-English speaker:
I grew up among the chicken, pigs and horses so I do know about the chicken when they lay eggs. You need to prepare boxes big enough that the creatures can get inside and lay eggs. Each one of them who lays egg has its own box and amazingly they know exactly which one belongs to who. In this way they will not go and dig the ground to lay the egg. Also as you need knew creatures you leave some of them so they will hatch and have new generation once they quite big you can eat the mother and in this way you continue to have chicken and they multiply. Of cause you have to make sure the knew generation has a roster or more before you enjoy the big one you have as to have more chics. We normally when new chics were born put them in the box where they hatched and keep them in a high shelves in the kitchen so that no animals will eat them at night but when they were a little bit bigger we have a ladder standing undernearth a cocoa tree so we put them on just before the night set in for the night. But I think you have a hen house with shelves so that I am sure they can sleep undisturb on them at night and if you do have shelves them the boxes for them to lay eggs can seat on them. I am happy if you feed them with any scraps from the kitchen as that will be good and you do not need to buy food unless the remains are not enough. We used to feed them from anything from the kitchen grinding them up. rice and coconut were the most use until today. We fed them twice a day. RIce is good. Well when I was young sometimes we found eggs in a bush and the shelves were dirty we simply have a piece of cloth wet them squeeze it them use it to wrap the dirt off.