Like Eggs? This Will Change Your Life.

You think I’m being dramatic? I’m not. You see, ever since getting the chickens, I’ve suffered a terrible problem – I can’t boil them in a way that allows me to peel them neatly. I had visions of taking deviled eggs to potluck, but alas, I’ve had to make egg salad to serve on melba toasts. I had tried all the things – letting them sit for a couple weeks (not long enough), boiling with salt, boiling with vinegar, cracking before plunging them in cold water. A dear friend finally turned me on to THIS method, and I can tell it is going to save me from endless frustration.

This will allow you to cook your fresh eggs to your desired doneness (I like soft-medium for toast, hard boiled for any other number of things) and peel them in a tidy fashion. Deviled eggs, here I come.

Here are your instructions. Feel free to memorize them:

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add some salt.

2. Gentle place your eggs in the pot. Return to a boil, and then start your timer. For our large eggs, 7 minutes gave me the perfect medium boil for toast, and I do 10-12 for a hard boil. Our backyard chicken eggs are a little larger than the ones I used to get at the grocery store, so you may need to adjust. My FlyLady timer has to get used somewhere:

FlyLady Timer

3. While your eggs are boiling, get a bowl ready with ice (I used a full tray for 6 eggs), cold water, and a good splash of white vinegar. I got too excited and forgot to take a photo of this step, but you know what a bowl of ice water looks like.

4. When your timer goes off, scoop the eggs from the pot and plunge (gently!) into the ice water. Allow them to sit there until they’re cool enough to handle.

Egg Scoop

5. Rinse, dry with a towel, crack, and peel. See these clean shells? That half that just slipped right off, taking the membrane with it but leaving the egg intact? I’m impressed.

Egg Shells

6. Rejoice in your perfect, whole, tidy eggs.

Hard Boiled Egg

Will you try this technique? Do you like your eggs boiled, or do you prefer them prepared some other way?

Most Amazing Egg

I’ve seen some large eggs, but this one takes the cake. I had to share the video of course… make sure to watch all the way to end, you might just be surprised.

If you are on your iPhone, click this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSHCBspYnAI

And lesson learned: always have the camera ready if we’re cracking open an unusual egg.

Chicken News, and Lots of Photos

Man, is there every a lot going on with the chickens. We’ve got two little coops going at the moment… and it’s busy. First, Peaches became broody and so we decided to let her hatch. We’re still hoping for a few new hens, and unfortunately we had to “off” the bully hen (Xena the warrior chicken), and Lucky turned out to be a rooster (more on that in a minute). So here’s Peaches protecting her little clutch. I think this was just pre-hatch.

Image

We successfully ended up with 6 little chicks this time around. They all look different which is nice, except 2 identical little yellow ones. They’re all adorable of course, but this one is particular photogenic:

Image

You know, it’s hard to get all 6 chicks in one photo! This was the best I could do, and was taken today. A week old and their feathers are coming in:

Image

And here’s the proud mama hen, wondering why on Earth I would open the door to the coop today. I thought it was time for the babies to go out, but she doesn’t yet agree with my suggestion. One DID go out – I went to investigate when I heard the chirping. She was at the bottom of the ramp not sure what to do, and Peaches was up top not willing to leave the rest of her brood but keeping a watchful eye. She did hop down and take on the dog when she got too close, though, there’s a fine mesh fence between, so the chick was in no danger, but I was impressed to see her puff up and give Cora a firm peck on the nose.

Image

And here’s our not-so-little Lucky, last weekend, just before he was taken away. We’re not keeping roosters here. Isn’t he handsome? Lucky turned out to be very lucky indeed – as a purebred araucana, we had no trouble finding a home for him down at my uncle’s farm. Much nicer than the alternative. Thanks Lucky – you were a great first hatch!

Image

We traded Lucky for a couple little bantams. They’ve been sweetly named Marigold and Buttercup, though we can’t tell them apart. I’ll try to get some pictures soon, but they like to roost and aren’t so keen on leaving the coop yet. Hopefully we’ll see them soon!

One Lucky Chick

A while ago (four weeks or so) we decided to let our broody hen, Xena, sit on a clutch of Araucana eggs.  Out of the 12 eggs we started with, we ended up with a lone chick – and have appropriately named her Lucky! Can you imagine how excited we were to see her hatching? Araucanas are a breed of chicken from Chile. They lay beautiful bluish-green eggs, and I’m excited to have added one to our coop! Okay, I’d like a couple more, but Lucky is a nice start. She’s a gorgeous little thing:

Image

Image

It definitely would have been nice to end up with a couple more chicks, but we’re both doting on Lucky for now and hope to get some more for hatching in the near future. Cora seemed to like her, too. They’ve met twice. Cora sniffs carefully, and Lucky peeps – but we’re not letting go of her just yet!

We have a broody hen. Not Peaches this time, but Xena. The old “cure” of stringing her up on a clothesline in a sugar sack isn’t going to do fly at our house, so we’ve gone with another sure bet – we’re letting her be a surrogate mama.

We’ve got 11 eggs here which were collected at a friend’s farm, since we don’t have a rooster. We introduced them to her at night. I think she was a little confused as to why we were putting eggs under her, not taking them away.

But she seemed so happy, clucking away and tucking them underneath her, and she’s been a great egg-warmer so far.

If all goes well, we should have a few little chicks by mid-April.

And we’re pretty excited about it.

One Picture of Tuesday Night

The coolest thing about this photo? I didn’t have to set it up at all. This is exactly the scene in our kitchen last night, and I just had to capture it.

Our lamp in action! It is so, so cool. The Mr. came up with the idea of putting it on a lazy susan so we can swivel it around from it’s central spot on our table, giving us light where we need it. It’s good enough to read by. I have a feeling we’re going to be spending a lot of time at this table.

Do you like our “fireplace” in the background? It was my husband’s birthday gift from me. He really wanted it (it’s a small electric heater), and now that the lights are off, I love it, too.

Can you tell what he’s reading? Nothing like sitting around in the dark reading about chickens! The name of the chapter, by the way, is “Suitable Breeding Stock.” It’s going to be a fun Spring.

The Broody Hen, Some Excuses, and a Great Song

It’s been over a month since I’ve posted. I had a great birthday party and a visit from a dear friend. I got the worst flu I can remember, and I’m finally almost over it. I read The Help and loved it. I’m trying to keep up on the house, and I’ve spent an obscene amount of time working on a semi-secret project, which I look forward to sharing with you in December. Yes, I’ve started counting down to Christmas.

Despite all these things, I’m going to outright lie and tell you that I was just wondering how long it would take before somebody mentioned that I hadn’t worked on my blog. Since three people called me on my laziness this week, I thought it was time to get myself back here. So there’s the mini update, but what this post is really going to be about is… the Broody Hen.

Peaches is broody. Broody hens, of course, will stop laying eggs. They can also be a bit nasty to the others who want a turn in the nesting boxes – luckily, our coop was built with extras (though I have heard her sqwauking at them). The Internet, as usual, has been a wealth of information, much of it hilarious.

Did you know that an old solution for a broody hen was to put them in a sugar sack and hang them from the clothesline? Don’t worry, we won’t… sugar sacks are hard to come by, of course. 😉 The idea behind it is sound, though, which is to reduce the “brooding temperature” by removing the comfy nesting materials and allowing the cooler air to circulate around a hen. Another “trick” is to dunk the chicken in cool water. I also understand that isolating the chicken away from her usual nesting box can break the habit, and this is a solution we’re willing to try.

We have, on dry days, kicked her out of the coop and closed the door for a few hours. It’s good in that she eats while she’s out. It’s ridiculous in that she is LOUD in her displeasure. One of the funniest things we’ve seen yet is all four hens lined up on their ramp to get in the coop. The first chicken realizes the door is closed and there’s nowhere to go, but the last chicken isn’t receiving the memo to back it up.

In good news, our younger hens have started laying, which is a source of great excitement. So we’re getting somewhere.

And on that note, you deserve a cute video for your patience. I warn you that it’s a catchy tune. We’ve been known to wander around on Saturday mornings humming it. Enjoy!

One New Hen, and an Exciting Discovery

This is our beautiful new girl, Reba. She’s quite a lot darker (more red) than Peaches is. We are back up to four, and we now have a very colourful chicken yard.

She’s another that’s old enough to lay already, and on that note…

Our first egg! Yes, I was excited enough that I ran into the house to grab my camera. Awesome, right?

And there’s just nothing more that needs to be said about that. 🙂

Chicken Run!

The first morning after I was home from the cruise, I was greeted by the sound of… a rooster.

The Mr. had figured out that one of our chickens was male while I was away. I admit it was a pathetic sort of crow, but it was unmistakable. Luckily, we had an agreement that if we ended up with a rooster, we could trade it back for a hen. We identified Camilla as the culprit, but were both suspicious that Marta may be a rooster as well, and as it turns out, we were right.

Our friend came by today with our new hen, Peaches. She was the lone hen that came for the trade (because we were only certain of one rooster), but since we sent both of them away, we’ll be getting another replacement in a day or two. She’s actually the mama to the two roosters, who will be processed as meat birds. Such is the way of these things. I should mention that I find it endlessly amusing that Peaches arrived in a crockpot box!

The Mr. and I went out for a little dinner tonight, and Peaches made a run for it! We were just arriving home when we received the following text message from my cousin:

We spotted a hen making a run for freedom. By the time the tractor was parked, she was out of sight. You may want to watch Chicken Run!

Very funny indeed. To be fair, I looked for it on Netflix, but no such luck. Searching for a hen in the dark isn’t a favourable task, but she was found huddled up on our front porch and promptly returned to the coop. We think it’s time to put a roof on the run.

Isn’t she lovely? She’s older than the others, so she is laying already! Stay tuned for the excitement that is sure to ensue…