Chicken Troubles

We get 12 to 16 eggs from our 16 chickens every day.  They have been very good and consistent egg layers, so I was very suspicious when we collected only 9 eggs the last 2 days.

A good friend of ours brought us a HUGE pile of straw bales (for free!!!) which Digger shoved off the trailer with his excavator. The result of this expedited removal left quite a mess…

DSCN6685 (640x480)-1I suspected that the chickens found some great hiding places in the straw to deposit their eggs instead of using the nesting boxes.  This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve had to go egg hunting.  This is a down fall of letting the chickens free range; sometimes they decide not to go back to the coop, and around here there are PLENTY of hiding places.  I figured a quick search through the pile would produce several missing eggs, on my way to search in the straw I heard a weird chicken disturbance in the barn.  I took a little detour to check it out and this is what I found:

DSCN6673 (480x640)How she ended up upside down in the wall of the barn I will never know!

I pried her out of her ridiculous predicament and realized it was Ginger (of course).

DSCN6680 (640x480)-1Here she is looking dazed but not hurt.  Ginger is by far the most curious, and I always thought the smartest (but maybe not) of all my chickens.  When I set her down, she ruffled her feathers, glared at me like it was my fault (or maybe she was just mad cause I stopped to take a picture before rescuing her), then went about her business.  I was so glad I went in the barn….I don’t know how long she would have survived squished in there upside down…

I then proceeded to the straw pile to start my egg hunt.

DSCN6687 (640x480)-1Soon I had help…..lots of help!

As you can see we performed a thorough search, but came up with nothing.  There were several holes we couldn’t see into though, and I wasn’t terribly anxious to move the whole dang pile for some missing eggs!

It was time to head back to the house and start school, but I decided to stop by the chicken coop to collect any recent eggs.  When I opened the door our dog “Oddie” was in the coop!  I yelled and she quickly dove for the chicken door.  I had no idea that darn mutt could fit through the chicken door.  I now know where all those eggs went!

Here’s the little egg sucker, still licking her chops and looking shameful.

DSCN6694 (640x480)The only way to solve the problem was to make the door smaller so she couldn’t fit through.  We have called her “Houdini Dog” since she was a pup, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that she found her way into the coop.  She has been known to climb 8′ no climb fence to get out of a pen, and she has managed to get out of every collar we’ve ever put on her (that’s what happens when your neck is bigger than your head).

So the lessons for the day are:  Never underestimate the clumsiness of a curious chicken, and always measure your dog before you build a chicken door!

The Perfect Eggs for Breakfast Sandwiches

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DSCN5058 (578x640)-1I know, I know, you’ve all seen this trick of cooking eggs in muffins tins.  It’s a great idea, don’t you think?  Our family has been enjoying these allot!  The only thing I do differently is cook them in a JUMBO muffin tin.  They are bigger around and fit PERFECTLY on English muffins and biscuits.

DSCN5064 (640x480)-1Crack eggs into jumbo muffin cups (grease them first) add salt and pepper and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes and you have the perfect eggs for those yummy breakfast sandwiches.

Here are some that we’ve been enjoying….the possibilities are endless!!

DSCN5115 (640x480)-1This is a toasted, sour dough English muffin with cheddar cheese, bacon and a perfect egg!

Click here for an easy, mess free way to cook bacon!

 

 

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This is a toasted, whole wheat English muffin with egg and cheese. I had to make my 8 year old stop eating so I could get this picture.  She wasn’t very patient for some reason??

 

 

DSCN6084 (640x480)-1This is a homemade whole wheat biscuit with a sausage patty made with my homemade breakfast sausage seasoning and a perfect egg!

Egg Salad – 3 Ways

If you’re like us, you have a bunch of these in your fridge right now.  😀

DSCN5995 (640x480)-1They are absolutely beautiful, but they can’t stay in the fridge forever!  Here are three delicious ways to use up those Easter eggs that are taking up space in your fridge.

If you don’t already have hard boiled eggs check out this post “How to Cook and EASILY Peel Farm Fresh Hard Boiled Eggs”.  Even if you don’t have farm fresh eggs this is a great method for perfect hard boiled eggs.

#1 –  “Creamy Egg Salad”

Start with 12 hard boiled eggs, peeled and rinsed.  Chop the eggs into little pieces.  I use an egg slicer and slice the egg one way and then turn the egg and slice it the other way.

DSCN5165 (640x480)-1After you have all your eggs chopped up in a bowl add: mayo, mustard, horseradish, and sweet relish.  Mix all together real good and give it a taste.  Now you will know how much seasoning salt and pepper you want to add.  Don’t over do the salt….you can always add more but you can’t take it out!

DSCN5185 (640x480)-1This is Creamy Egg Salad on Sour Dough Bread…..Yummm!

 

#2 – “Dill Egg Salad”

This one is my favorite! If you don’t like pickles then skip down to the last recipe ‘cuz this is happy pregnant lady with a pickle craving good!!

Chop your 12 hard boiled, peeled, and rinsed eggs into a bowl.  Add: mayo, dijon mustard, dill, pickle juice, and chopped dill pickles (our favorite dill pickle is – Nalley’s Elites Garlic, Dill & Onion Petites – they are little, crunchy, and absolutely DELICIOUS!).

DSCN5394 (640x480)-1My mouth is watering just thinking about those pickles….anyway, mix everything up thoroughly and then take a bite….add salt and pepper if or as needed.

#3 – “Bacon and Egg Salad”

Begin by slicing your 12 hard boiled, peeled, and rinsed eggs into small pieces.  Add mayo, sour cream, green onions, bacon bits, (here is how I easily cook bacon in the oven) salt, and onion powder to the egg pieces.  Stir together well and give it a taste.  Add more salt if needed and pepper to taste.

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Egg Salad - 3 Ways
 
These recipes can easily be cut in half if you don't want this much.
Author:
Ingredients
  • # 1 - Creamy Egg Salad:
  • 12 hard boiled eggs - peeled and rinsed
  • ½ cup mayo
  • 1 tbls mustard
  • 1 tbls horseradish
  • 2 tbls Sweet Relish
  • Seasoning Salt and Pepper to taste
  • _________________________________________________________
  • #2 - Dill Egg Salad:
  • 12 hard boiled eggs, peeled and rinsed
  • ½ cup Mayo
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 1 tbls pickle juice
  • ½ cup chopped dill pickles (your favorite brand)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • _________________________________________________________
  • #3 - Bacon and Egg Salad:
  • 12 hard boiled eggs, peeled and rinsed
  • ¼ cup mayo
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 tbls chopped green onions
  • 8 slices of bacon cooked and crumbled
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • More salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. These instructions work for all 3 recipes.
  2. Take your peeled and rinsed hard boiled eggs and chop them into small pieces.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients except the salt and pepper to your chopped eggs and mix thoroughly.
  4. Taste it, then add salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

How to Cook and EASILY Peel Farm Fresh Hard Boiled Eggs!

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First of all I want to mention that this method is not just for farm fresh eggs.  Store bought or strait from the coop, your end result will be beautiful hard boiled eggs!

Have you ever tried to peel a farm fresh hard boiled egg?  I have, and it’s not a pretty sight. Unlike older, store bought eggs, no matter how hard you try the shell will not let go of the egg, leaving you with a lumpy, broken mess!!  With my new egg laying machines and tons of fresh eggs the only thing I could think to do was hide a dozen eggs in the back of my fridge and wait for them to get old (the older the egg the easier it is to peel).  This works as long as you know two weeks in advance when you are going to want a hard boiled egg.  I don’t know about you, but when I want egg salad, I want it now, not two weeks from now!!

That was not my only problem with hard boiling eggs, I usually over boiled them and ended up with a green ring around the yolk….for some reason greenish colored, lumpy, deviled eggs are not very appetizing.  So I started researching and experimenting, and experimenting, and experimenting…….and this method left me with sun colored yolks and EASILY peel-able eggs!

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Start by placing a pot of water on the stove to boil.  Make sure it’s enough water to cover the eggs.  While your waiting for the water to boil take a (clean) thumb tack and poke a small hole in the fat end of each egg.

DSCN5385 (640x480)-1Be careful, you want to make a hole but not push the tack all the way in.  The goal here is to put a tiny hole in the shell where the air sack is and not poke through the membrane inside.  When the water is at a hard boil, and you have a tiny hole in each egg, gently (VERY gently) place the eggs in the boiling water and set the timer for 15 minutes.DSCN5210 (640x480)-1Keep them at a low boil for the entire time.  If you pushed the tack in to far you will see streams of egg white floating in the water.  It’s no big deal, that egg will just not be as pretty as the rest.  After you do this a few times you will get the hang of it.

While they are boiling prepare a bowl of ice water in your sink.  When the timer goes off immediately remove the pan and drain the boiling water.  Then place the hot eggs into the ice water.

DSCN5612 (640x480)-1Wait about 15-20 minutes and take them out one at a time to peel.

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These are eggs that were laid this morning….see how nicely they peeled.

 

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This is an egg that I poked the tack in to far and some of the the egg white escaped.  Not a good look for deviled eggs, but will still taste great in egg salad. 🙂

 

 DSCN5616 (640x480)-1See how nice and pretty the yolk is!!

I’m so glad I can make deviled eggs whenever I want instead of having to plan ahead and hide them in the back of the fridge to get old.  I hope this works as well for you as it has for me.  The tack trick takes a little practice, but if all you have is fresh eggs to peel it’s definitely worth the effort.

I found this method at: Paths of Wrighteousness

Avocado Scramble

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This recipe is simple, VERY attractive and tastes every bit as good as it looks!!

Start by whisking together eggs and water.

Pour into a pan drizzled with olive oil on medium-low heat.

                           Stir with spatula until eggs are set up. Add salt and pepper.

Top with salsa, avocado and sour cream!!DSCN4676 (640x385)-1I told you it was attractive!!  Don’t you just love those colors??

Here’s a close up…..DSCN4682 (640x480)Oh yeah!!  That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!! Yummmmmmmmm!

Here’s the printable version of the recipe:

Avocado Scramble
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of your favorite salsa or Pico de Gallo would be yummy too
  • ¼ of a large avocado
  • A dollop of sour cream
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the eggs and water
  2. Pour egg mixture into a pan drizzled with olive oil on medium-low heat
  3. Use a spatula to stir eggs until done
  4. Place eggs on a plate and add salt and pepper
  5. Top with salsa, avocado, and sour cream

 

“Chicken People”

I have a confession to make, I used to think “chicken people” were weird.  What’s all the fuss about?  Aren’t chickens dirty, stinky, noisy and dumb?  Who has the time or money to mess with chickens when you can easily buy all the chicken and poop free eggs in a quick trip to the store?  And all chicken people seem to do is talk and brag about their chickens…

Oooooops!!

I now find myself driving my husband nuts running in and out of his shop showing him eggs and telling him stories about my wonderful, funny hens.  Then I text my family and friends pictures and brag about all the nice big brown eggs they are laying.  Oh, and by the way,  MY hens aren’t dirty, stinky, noisy or dumb; and there is no comparing a farm fresh egg (even with a little poop) to a store bought egg!!

So maybe “chicken people” ARE weird, but what’s wrong with being a little weird if you are having a good time and supplying your family with good wholesome food….Right?

As long as I’m admitting that I’m a “weird chicken person” and my family is sick of hearing about my hens, I guess I have to do all my bragging on my blog.  So here are a few pictures of my girls…and my other girls (wow, I have a lot of girls).  I guess weird chicken people also take TONS of pictures of their chickens (and their kids). 😉

 

9 day old Golden Buff chick.

Look how fast their feathers grow!

 

 

 

 

1 month old chick

 

 

 

 

 

15 weeks old

 

 

 

 

Here they are being very cautious on their first trip into the harvested garden.

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Thanks for letting me share.

 

Chickens in the Snow

When I go out to the chicken coop first thing in the morning I open up their little door and they all rush out.  Usually walking and jumping on each other, trying to cram through the door two or three at a time.

IMGP4301 (1132x1280)-1But the other day when it snowed a couple inches, it took them a few hours to wander out and most of them headed strait for the barn so they could take dust baths, dig around in the fire wood for bugs and harass the barn cats.  That night we had to carry a few back to the coop, they didn’t want to walk back through the snow!

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On Christmas day we received a foot of snow (we blame this on our 9 year old, she was praying for a white Christmas 😉 ) and it’s not melting off very fast.  The chickens now refuse to come out of the coop.  They will step out, look around, fluff up their feathers and jump right back in the door.  You can’t blame them, that white stuff is cold and deep.

With no free ranging going on they have been going through a LOT of feed and water!!  I highly recommend  that if there is any possibility that your chickens can be let out to forage around….let them!!  I’m guessing it cuts the feed costs by half, if not more. (I am keeping track and will let you know exact numbers later). Not to mention it makes for very healthy, happy chickens and more nutritious eggs.   Anyway, I got worried about the hungry little buggers getting bored all cooped up.  Bored chickens are not a good thing, they will start pecking at each other and if it gets to bad the results could be deadly. 🙁  So I cut open an acorn squash and gave that to them, and they spent hours picking at it; the only part left is a thin layer of peel.  The next day we hung up half of a large cabbage in the coop.  They seemed disinterested at first, but when I went out that night to shut the door most of the cabbage was gone.  We hung up the second half of the cabbage the next day.  This one didn’t last long!!  Hanging them up is purely for the entertainment value, (for the chickens, not us….well maybe for us too).  Watching chickens chase a spinning, bouncing cabbage around the coop WAS very entertaining.

IMGP4316-1These little treats seem to be keeping them happy and occupied during these snow bound days.  To my surprise, being stuck indoors has not affected their egg production at all.

This spring I intend to plant tons of cabbage, pumpkins, and squash just for the chickens to have next winter (and maybe enough for us to have some too).

Egg Laying Machines

I was going to title this post “Waiting for Eggs” but in all honesty, we didn’t have to wait!  Everything I’ve read says most chickens will start laying between 5 and 6 months old.  So I was hoping to have some eggs by Christmas, that would be right at 5 months old (and what a great Christmas present).  It was November, cold out and day light hours were getting shorter and shorter.  Hens need 14 to 16 hours of light a day to lay eggs.  So after Thanksgiving I bought a timer so we could plug in a light to increase their hours of light.  I also bought layer feed for them.  Before I could get the light plugged in or change their feed, they started laying!!

Our first 2 eggs!!  A little splotchy, but we were so proud 😉

We quickly got the light put up in the coop and set it to come on at 3am.  I mixed the layer in with the remaining grower feed and HOLEY COW!!  They turned into egg laying machines.  It is now 5 days before Christmas and we are getting 15 or 16 eggs a day from our 17 hens!!  They don’t seem to mind the freezing weather at all.  They have been laying all these eggs by 7:30am and then they get turned out to free range for the rest of the day.

The only problem we had was when they first started laying.  Some of them would peck their egg, (one little hole or even just a crack)….kind of like they were curious.  Then one hen started eating an egg every day.  I would go out to the coop at about 8:30am and find wet straw and little pieces of shell in a nesting box.  I had NO idea which hen was doing it!  This went on for several days and the only thing I could think to do was just get out to the coop earlier before she had a chance to snatch that egg.  So when it was just barely light enough to see I headed out to the coop.  It worked!  No more broken eggs,…not even any cracks!  On most days we even get a double yolker or two.  Now my only problem is what to do with all these eggs!….I love problems like this. 😀

                          Meet Ginger one of our super egg laying machines!

Beware of Barn Cats

I love barn cats!!  We have an old barn that is home to several skittish, fat barn cats.  We feed them some dry cat food everyday but that’s not why they are fat.  They are SUPER mousers!!  I hate mice….I mean really, really, really hate mice.  I would rather be stuck in a hole with a snake than a mouse…I don’t know why?  They just send me into a cold sweat.  So having barn cats is a necessity (as far as I’m concerned).  That being said, little peeps and barn cats are not a good mix.  We knew this could be a problem so we made every precaution (we thought) to make sure the cats couldn’t get to the peeps.

This is not a barn cat, this is “Pumpkin Pie” one of Jo’s pets.  But you get the picture. If this tame, well fed kitten is this interested in little peeps you can imagine the temptation for a large hungry barn cat.

I know; faces that only a mother could love!!  Well, a mother and a barn cat! 🙁  These awkward, month old peeps have little heads that can fit through chicken wire, and they are very curious critters.  So when someone comes up to the screen door made of chicken wire they run over and stick there heads through the wire to check things out.  I thought it was so cute that they would run to greet me when I walked up to the door.  I had no idea they would do the same when a barn cat walked up!!  I went out one night to put them to bed and found a headless peep! 😮 I could only see three others in the coop and I totally freaked!!  Went running to the house and told Digger about the horror show in the chicken coop. He came out and  found the rest of the frightened  peeps  hiding behind the nesting boxes.  The next morning Digger put extra small wire on the bottom of the screen door.  This solved our problem, no more peeking peeps.  A couple months later (after the peeps had done some serious growing!) I decided it was time to let them free range. I was nervous not only about the barn cats but the dogs as well.   I opened the gate and kept my eyes peeled.  To my surprise and delight the cats and the dogs ignored them.  In fact, the only chasing  going on in our barn yard is an occasional chicken chasing a cat or kid!!  The moral of this story is…barn cats + peeps = deadly results.  Barn cats + grown chickens = frightened barn cats.  So keep those peeps in a well protected coop until they can fend for themselves.

Golden Buff Chicks

When we ordered the chicks we chose Golden Buffs, also known as Golden Comet, Golden Sex Link, Cinnamon Queen, and Red Star.  They lay 5 plus big, brown, eggs a week and are small (around 4 lbs.) and docile hens.  The other great thing about Golden Buffs is  the hatchery is able to tell the sex of the chicks when they hatch by their color.  I don’t want a rooster “YET” so this breed seemed to be the best choice for us.  On July 18th, 18 peeping, puff balls arrived!! The play pen with a heat lamp worked great for keeping them nice and warm.

My girls and I were instantly in love!!  We had a hard time leaving the chicken coop, they were just to much fun to sit and watch.  To my pleasant surprise they were very hardy little buggers.  I thought we might lose a few in the mail or shortly after they arrived but they were all healthy, active and surprisingly loud!

In conclusion we were VERY happy with our little peeps!!  The only bad thing was they all looked identical and trying to name 18 chicks that you can’t tell apart was an impossible task. 😉

 

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