Saturday, December 21, 2013

Grandma's Bowl

There are so many things I love about having chickens.

Little Things

And I think that until you have chickens you can't really understand all those little things completely.

Today was a very special day, a day I get to enjoy one of my favorite "little things".  For the first time in about 12 years I got to put my own fresh eggs in my Grandma's Bowl.  Silly right?  Maybe.  But for me, so much love, and so many memories are brought back in that one simple action.

My Grandma Cox passed away many years ago, when my oldest daughter Meghann was just a baby.  My Grandparents always had chickens.  And maybe my love for having my own eggs comes from those memories.  When she passed away I got many of her wonderful bowls.  And I do very much treasure them.  

Since I have such a love for cooking I have always loved beautiful dishes.  And Grandma's bowls were so wonderful.  I remember exclaiming how beautiful her bowls were one day and she laughed.  She told me that that silly bowl came free in a box of oatmeal.  Nothing special about it at all.  
Nothing special!?!!!  
Was she serious? 
 But my grandparents were very simple people.  She didn't have beautiful china or expensive things.  I think she found it hard to understand how I could think that something so simple would be incredible.

For years I filled this beautiful green bowl with my fresh eggs.  And every time I pull it out of the refrigerator I think of my wonderful Grandma.  
Oh how I wish I could talk to her again and have her tell me stories about her childhood and her parents.  
After I moved from the farm and no longer had fresh eggs I continued to use this special bowl for my store bought eggs.  And although I still always thought of Grandma when I got eggs out, it never held the "magic" that it always seemed to hold with my own eggs.  Today the "magic" returns.  It gives me so much joy to put my own eggs in this amazing bowl again.  
All of our eggs to date. 

And I hope Grandma is looking down and smiling to see that this "silly" bowl brings me such joy.
Sure, I know that using the bowl every day could mean that someday it gets broken.  And I have often thought about retiring it to the china hutch for "safe keeping".  Somehow in my heart I feel like using the bowl is what I should be doing.  What joy does it bring locked away in a cabinet?  And even if it someday does get broken I will have all the memories of using it for years and years.
So, should my children or grandchildren ever have any of my dishes or anything else, I hope they will use those items every day.  I hope they will remember me with happy wonderful memories that make them smile the way I smile and think of my Grandma Cox when I use her special bowls.
The top two eggs are today's eggs.  The one toward the back is from Oprah Orpington.  The one in the front is from Martha our Cuckoo Marans.  The picture doesn't totally capture how amazingly pretty this egg is.  

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Interesting Egg Day

I am having so much fun going out to the hen house throughout the day to see if there are any new eggs.
This morning when I took breakfast out and went into the coop for the "Morning Maid Service" I was surprised to find this soft shell egg.
I brought it up to the house right away to show my husband.  Since he is a self professed "city boy" he hasn't ever seen anything like this before.  I found the egg on the poop board under the roost which is why you can see sand on it in the picture.  My guess is that this egg belongs to Gilda since I caught Oprah in the nest box later in the day with her own egg.  And the egg is light enough that I am assuming it doesn't belong to one of the Cuckoo Marans girls.  Gilda's comb and wattles have been getting redder and redder every day so I have been anticipating her first egg.  It is SO exciting to have a new layer!

What egg oddities have you found in your hen house?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pullet or Hen?

Technology is certainly an amazing thing!  16 years ago when I had my first chicken coop the internet was in it's infancy.  Certainly there wasn't anywhere near the information we have available to us today.

Now, after reading and researching and learning it is almost like experiencing everything with my new girls all over again.  For instance, with my very first chickens I had no idea what to look for in the way of visible changes when chickens go from being a pullet to being a hen.

Once again I have to thank Kathy The Chicken Chick for all of her information and for teaching me so much.  Kathy has a wonderful post at her blog about chickens combs and wattles becoming more red as they near laying age.  Since we have our first two layers I thought I would share a few pictures to show you the difference between our hens and pullets.

Oprah Orpington and one of our Cuckoo Marans are our current two layers.  Notice how nice and red their combs and wattles are.

This picture of three of our "Cuckoo Girls" really shows the difference between the pullets and the layer.
Can you guess which one of these girls is giving me beautiful brown eggs?

I am sure you guessed right.  The big girl in the back is our Hen and the two in front are pullets.  Isn't it amazing how starkly different they look? 

This is a picture of our two Buff Orpington girls.  Gilda on the left is not yet laying.  But Oprah is laying very well.  As of today we have collected a total of 8 eggs from our hen house!  I am so excited to make a very special breakfast very soon.

Another picture of Oprah Orpington and Gilda.  Just too pretty not to share.  I love how big and fluffy and beautiful the Orpingtons are.
I thought I would share one more picture from today.  This is Gwhen enjoying the new treat baskets I hung.  The temperature is about 63 outside so it is a GORGEOUS day!  The only thing that would make it a bit better would be if it was a little less windy.  But a 60 degree day in late December is a wonderful treat!

How are your girls doing?  Do you have some pullets that you are anxious to get eggs from?  I am so excited to get our first Easter Egger eggs!!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A two egg day!

I was so surprised to find a second egg in the nest box this evening.  

Evidently the egg I found this morning was from Gilda.  I owe her a huge apology because I gave Oprah a big "thank you" for the egg this morning.  The 2nd egg I found this evening was quite a bit larger and therefore most likely from Oprah.  (**hmmm - I think I owe another apology.  After finding our Cuckoo Marans in the nest box, I now think that our first two egg day was actually a Buff Orpington egg from Oprah and a Cuckoo Marans egg from #90)

We will be having a delicious breakfast very soon with these wonderful eggs.  :)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Caught in the act

Caught ya!  Doesn't Oprah look beautiful in the nest?
She skipped Friday but gave us our 2nd tiny egg today.  This one is just slightly larger than the first egg on Thursday.  My husband is already asking when we can make breakfast.  :)

All of my friends and family know that I am a list keeper.  Unfortunately my daughters have inherited this curse too.  So I am going to start off keeping a list of the eggs we get each day.  The list will include what type of eggs are collected.  I am not sure if this is a list I will continue permanently, but it seems like it might be an interesting list to refer back to.  You can find our list in the top tabs under "Egg Count".  In the future I may use the list as a way of letting neighbors and family of when I have extra eggs.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Our first EGG!!!!

I was beginning to think it was never going to happen.  Maybe it was just a myth.  I mean, I have had chickens before, years ago.  I vividly remember those chickens laying eggs.  :)  Is it possible that all 12 of the chickens I got were just the "non-egg laying" kind?  My husband even started to joke around that I had deceived him about the "delicious breakfasts" we would have and that in truth these chickens were only here to be my fun pets.

It really happened!  And it is hard to put into words the pure joy I felt in finding this tiny beauty in the nest box.
I am pretty sure this special gift was laid by Oprah Orpington.  Her comb and wattle are more red than Gilda's.  And I am so happy that our first egg is from this special girl.  She has been the "first" for many things in our new hen house including the first to eat treats out of my hand.

I always thought our first egg might come from one of the Orpingtons.  And I had a hunch that the far North nest box would be the "favorite" nest box.  I am just so happy that she used the nest box with our pretty Christmas nest box curtains and didn't hide this beauty under the coop.
The size of our first egg was a little surprising to me.  It is truly the size of a small bantam egg.  I guess it has been too many years ago that I got our first egg from our first set of chickens.  Such a cute little thing.  Of course I know that the eggs will get bigger as she lays more and I am happy that they gradually work up to full size eggs.

So Hummingbird Hollow is truly now a Hen House.

Thank you Oprah for this amazing gift.  My mind is racing with recipes I can make and things I can bake. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Augh! The white stuff!!!

First I have to apologize for being so quiet here on the blog for the last month.  It has been super busy between decorating the house for Christmas, making a delicious Thanksgiving Dinner for my family, and making lots and lots of Christmas presents.

And there hasn't been much happening in the hen house.  STILL no eggs.  :( 

I have however been super worried about the girls during this arctic cold snap we have had over the last 5 days or so.  We have had lows in the single digits and highs in the teens.  I don't think it got this cold all Winter last year.  

This is the first Winter with our girls.  And the first Winter that I have ever used sand in my coop for my chickens.  I love the sand in my coop!  It is truly so easy to keep clean.  But I worried that the coop would be colder with no straw.  But I have continued with my original plan and the girls seem to be doing GREAT!  The coop is very well built and certainly draft free.  But it has great ventilation with two roof vents and a vent on the north and south walls, as well as vents in the soffits.  We have NO heat lamps.  The only additional light we supply is a rope light that is on early in the morning and in the evening.  It is on a timer to go off and give the girls 8 full hours of darkness.  The girls all come running out in the morning when I open the run door and seem completely unfazed by the cold temperatures.
**Edit** - I almost forgot to tell you that the one other thing I am doing for the chickens now that we are having below freezing temperatures is that I give them a "late evening" snack every night.  At about 4:30 I take the girls either some stale bread, dry oats, cracked corn, or left over tortillas. (we always seem to have lots of these)  The girls are generally all in the coop by 5:30 each evening so a snack at this time catches them before they are roosted and ready for bed.  The idea behind the late snack is that the girls will have food in them that they are digesting through the night.  Just that act of digestion creates some warmth for them.  

The only thing they seem to absolutely NOT like is snow.  They try very hard to avoid the white stuff!
They go to great lengths to try to fly around the corner of the coop and over to the covered area of the run where there is generally no snow.  

I am afraid the girls are in for a big surprise if we ever get a true measurable snow.  So far this year we have had just a dusting.

How are your chickens doing with the cold Winter temperatures?