Look at that face! Is that the face of a baby? No, sirree Bob! Our little One-Three went from baby to lady in four days flat. My friends, you are looking at an official egg-laying member of our society here at Lisa Has Chickens!
My parents and brother came up to visit for the weekend of the 4th, and after a day of wine tasting in the Willamette Valley on the 3rd, we got back home in the evening and my mom and I went out to gather the day’s eggs. As we were peering into the nests, I said absentmindedly, “We’re particularly looking… for any little… tiny… baby eggs… because… ohmigosh! SHE DID IT!! SHE LAID AN EGG!!!” I reached into one of the lower nests and pulled out a perfect, tiny, dark olive-green baby egg! I had been keeping an eye out in the baby coop for weeks because her comb has been so big and red and she’s been squatting for the roosters for so long already. But, no eggs. Maybe she was waiting until she could hang with the big girls and use the real nests. She laid on her fourth day in the big coop… which is going just fine, by the way. They pick on her a little, and she’s not enjoying the attention from the roosters, but she’s still in one piece, and eating and laying and healthy, and that’s way more than I expected.
That was the best of the pictures I took on the day the egg was laid. It was late and the sun was low, and you have to excuse the dirty eggs… someone must have broken an egg in one of the nests while we were gone because those eggs had dried yolk on them, and so straw and feathers stuck to them. Normally our eggs are clean and beautiful right out of the nest like the six in the foreground.
This is a better shot I took the next day in proper sunlight so you can see the color. It had just a faint speckling and the brown wash scrapes off with a fingernail, so that means she got the Marans gene for the dark wash over the shell color (remember that Marans lay double brown eggs (2 copies of the brown shell gene) plus they have a dark wash over the shells that make them even darker, but it can be washed or scraped off as it is not actually part of the shell… it’s like paint), and she got a blue egg gene from her mama and a brown egg gene from her daddy… which makes green. The Marans wash makes it darker and more olive-y.
She’s 22 weeks today, and she laid her second egg yesterday – equally lovely and perfect and dark olive, and just slightly bigger than the first one. So, she laid her first egg officially at 21 1/2 weeks, in case you’re keeping track of these things. YAY BABY!
Score One for the Chickens!!
*sorry if anyone is squeamish – hopefully you’re used to this sort of thing from me by now*
I was in the coop this evening, gathering eggs, when something in the shavings caught my eye. I looked again and thought it was just a dirt clod at first, but something about the shape made me look closer. I bent down and realized it was a mummified rat! Looks like the chickens finally got sick of sharing their food and water and did something about it! I knew they had it in ’em! Go, chickens, it’s your birthday! Go, chickens, it’s your birthday!!
By the way… check the lower jaw on that thing… it looks like something from Jurassic Park. Those two lower teeth run the whole length of its head! No wonder they can chew through things like lead pipes. Anyway. Here’s hoping the chickens keep up the offensive since my rat traps never did work and every time I think they’ve left, I find a new tunnel into the run again. I never see any other evidence or damage from them, but I just KNOW they’re there. I’m hoping they’re gone for the summer at least, since there’s no need for that kind of shelter and wild food is abundant.
Anyway, Back to the Egg
*If you click on the above photo for the enlargement, you’ll have a great view of the speckling and also the spots where the dark wash scraped off, so you can see what I’m talking about.*
Though I irrationally had an urge to “save” the baby egg, I did decide that perhaps that’s not really a reasonable thing to do, and so I decided to put it to good use – as an egg wash on our 4th of July peach and blueberry pie. It’s always annoying to use a whole large egg for an egg wash because you never use the whole thing, and then you either end up throwing some away (blasphemy) or you save half a beaten egg mixed with heavy cream for some future scrambling or other use, which is an annoying thing to have in the fridge and to remember to use. So, this tiny egg was perfect.
I guess the theme this year is weather. Somehow it always seems strange this year. Today got up to at least 85 and tomorrow is supposed to be 95. I have been hemming and hawing about picking my sour cherries because I’m just not sure when they’re ripe. I think Montmorencies are lighter, brighter red when they are ripe than seems right to me. They are very soft and juicy-feeling and birds tore into two of them today, and the heat really kicked them into gear so I picked them. I left the English Morellos until at least tomorrow because I think they are supposed to be dark red. I don’t really have a clue, though.
I picked the handful of Morellos last year and they were incredibly awesome, so I guess I picked them at the right time. Anyway, I’ll let you know how they are. This is my first year with Montmorencies and I only got a couple of handfuls, but pie cherries are my favorite things on earth and so I am super excited. I take what I can get.
Speaking of weather, this was the weather on the 4th (see photo). Dark clouds, cold breeze, a few raindrops, and I’m not sure it hit 60 degrees. We all wore jackets (Brian took this photo and then we all immediately went in and got our warm clothes) while eating our awesome dinner of local, 100% pastured, grass-fed-and-finished beef tri-tip(no feedlot no grain, ever. only grass. period.), local, 100% pastured chicken, lamb from next door, salad with roasted beets, lettuce, and fresh herbs from our garden, sauteed chard and beet greens with garlic, all from our garden, and potato and green bean salad with potatoes grown next door, green beans from the farmers’ market, and herbs from our garden, Argyle sparkling rose from the Willamette Valley, and Frog Hollow peach and Willamette blueberry pie (holy moly I love eating in the summertime)… and then we shivered through fireworks that night. Yesterday was sunny but cool… even at the warmest time yesterday, I wore a sweater. And then today we almost used the air conditioning, and tomorrow we have a warning for “extreme heat” from accuweather. What a weird year.
And because of the coming heat and our, ahem, learning experience from last summer… we have decided to be proactive and add some more ventilation to the coop. It is already open around the three sides under the edge of the roof, plus the window opens and the three chicken doors are open at all times. But, taking a cue from a cool old book Brian bought me last year, Fresh-Air Poultry Houses, I’ve decided more open is better. And so this evening, I added a window. The chickens were highly concerned about the remodel – the roosters sounded the alarm and the ladies followed suit and the whole lot of them “bawk bawk buhGAWK”ed at me the entire time as I ripped siding panels off the door and then covered it with hardware cloth. But, I believe this will help create a cross-draft that will keep the air moving and the temperature down inside the coop. Tomorrow will find shallow tubs of ice water in the coop and run for them to drink and cool their feet.